Race Report: Apres Wacky Races Cat4 Race2
Job done. Sole TCC rider. Fourth place and promotion to Cat3. If you want the details read on…
Availability of the car meant that the clock read seven something (rather than five!), this morning. A welcome lie in, but I’m not feeling great. Bike is prepared with my secret weapon: latex tubes and rollers to warm up.
Forty riders have signed on for the second race of this series. Perfect sun for my perma-white legs to dazzle the opposition. Blazing Saddles have a team of six, and after last week’s 1-2-3 breakaway, they are marked men. I finished seventh last week, so need only two more points for promotion. My plan is therefore to defend top 10 and try and secure eighth or better.
I ask for a start with a neutralized lap, then we are underway. Pace picks up and a few people have a dig. Everything is chased down. There is a wind blowing down and across the slight incline and there is shelter to be had in a mini-echelon. Blazing Saddles put a man on the front and then attack with last weeks heroes from the rear. There are calls to chase and I jump with another of last week’s racers and we bridge. The bunch follow.
Laps pass much the same. A new team of two are working hard and I oblige on the front, an attack and half-lap switches, but nothing is organised. I take a gel at 30 minutes and am feeling better than I have any right to. Lines get a little sketchy and there is a solo breakaway that looks like holding. Forgetting my defensive plan, I bridge but by the time I catch the rider, he’s on the banking and sitting up. Energy wasted.
Recovery time. Sitting top 10, I defend position whilst avoiding the front. Five laps are called and it’s time to assume position again. Being a velodrome, there is a very useful Blue line to sit on and defend. You won’t get boxed inside and can respond to riders attcking on the right.
A rider is off the front with two to go, hoping for heroics, but he’ll be caught. I’m eighth wheel and not moving off that line! The bell rings and the pace is rising. Defend, defend. There are a few “hold your lines” from behind, but we enter the back straight and gaps are opening. I take a wheel and accelerate. Not so early this week. The sprint winds up and I’m fourth in the bunch and pulling away. I pass the solo rider near the line for fourth overall. Cat3. Job done.
One of the riders said to me afterwards “I tried to stay on your wheel, how did you always seem to be in the right place?”. My response; this was my 35th race. With not that many meagre middle-aged watts/kg to play with, racecraft is what I need. This race was my best result in open competition, and I think tactically my best yet. It’s been a while coming, but domestique duties now await in the Surrey League 😉
If I can make it from commuter to Cat3, then there is hope for all! There will be a development Cat4 race this Saturday at Hillingdon that would make a good start, with a Cat234 to follow if the pace appeals. If you want more details, just drop me a line.
Steven Rush getting in the zone for the following Cat3 race