Happy New Year!
Cold, wind, rain, family commitments. All (well family mainly) conspired to rule out any Cat 4 racing over the Christmas and New Year break. Chapeau to all who turned out for the New Years Day racing in what looked like, frankly, atrocious conditions. Well done to James Bradley securing a second place and more points towards his 2nd Cat.
Onto Round six and a cold of my own. Three riders from TCC; myself, Clarry Chung and first time racer Richard Anderson. A larger field than the midweek rainfest with the full complement of 60 keen Cat 4 racers eager to blow off the festive cobwebs. Or just blow nose in my case. Weather was windy but not truly gusting. Temperature mild with rain expected (having driven through it on my drive from Windsor), but initially dry.
Richard and I warm up with chat and a few laps of the circuit. I remove my new race cape (Altura Ergofit, excellent kit, transparent, taped seams, packs to almost nothing), which was of course to be a mistake. A briefing about our fine standard of riding in past races and we set off for 40 minutes plus five laps at a fast pace into the wind. Richard and I assume a mid-peloton position as he adjusts to group riding, Clarry looks comfortable with the pace towards the rear, building her confidence. The peloton strings out as the weather closes in. Rain is stinging the legs and we start lapping groups of riders. Attacks come from Velosport CC, Dulwich Paragon and the numerous Agents from Dynamo (13 in this race). I find myself going for a break with Dulwich, but the sinuses are saying otherwise. The peloton chase us down – clearly we need an Agent in the group to succeed.
Five laps called and I take a tactical gel with added caffeine (also known as placebo). Not wishing to throw litter I attempt to put the empty wrapper back into my rear pocket. How do you feed wearing winter gloves? I ride the end of dual carriageway straight and first bend with one hand stuck in a pocket. All that Masters racing bike handling is put to good use, but I’ll go back and collect litter next week. Richard is well placed with two laps to go, top 10 and still looking very comfortable. Clarry is hanging on to the main group and impressing some spectating friends of mine, and I am only mid-pack. The pace goes up again, the bell goes and everyone is fighting for position. This is where experience meets fitness. I pass a few riders exiting Brian’s Bends as we start the sprint, but I’m boxed in. Not today – 22nd overall, with Richard coming in 33rd and Clarry 47th. A look at the photo finish shows that this was a close race; half a second separate the top eight and I am only another second or so down. Cat 4 is competitive.
Sadly, the E123 race started well with an excellent TCC entry and Chris in his first Cat 3 outing post victory, but a nasty crash meant the race was first neutralized and then abandoned. At least riders got to see the air ambulance land in tricky winds. The injured rider is making a recovery.
Next week’s Cat 4 race is sold out already and we have myself, Steve Morgan and Elwyn Powell making a return, and Tim O’Rourke hungry for the last four points to secure Cat 3 status (12 points needed this season). The week after is sold out too. And the week after that! Forget racing, entry is competitive in Cat 4! (the other categories all have spaces in every race). There are five more races to go and the last two races (Feb 1st and 8th) still have places available in Cat 4. The riding is of a high standard and I would thoroughly recommend that if you would like to try racing, you register for one of these races. At least one new TCC racer has signed on for their first race already, and myself and others will also be there. At TCC you will not be racing alone. There is no better time to start your racing career.
Now as an aside, and a bit of fun, Imperial Racing like to publish all the results. So being a bit of a quant/geek/nerd/… I decided to analyse the data. Does having a bigger team make you more successful? Well it turns out that it does not in this series. TCC have a mean entry of 3.8 riders/race and a mean placing of 25th (mean best is 7.5). The Wheelers are 5.8 for 24th (mean best of 8.0) and London Dynamo 9.5 for 25th (mean best of 5.7). In fact Thames Velo are the over-performers at the moment. We are not the largest team by far, but our results are doing the club proud. If you are interested I’ll show the full analysis at the end of the series, complete with E12 and Cat 3 results.