Another week, another race with a last minute change of route thanks to road works! This time I crossed the line in fifth place riding the 14mile circuit in a time of 00:33:54.

My build up to this weeks race was far from ideal. My performance probably reflects that too. Even if I did give it what I felt was a good effort at the time.

First I got lazy with my stretching and core routines, and then I found myself short on time in the preceding days. This on its own probably made little difference. I only do basic maintenance for my core; nothing too stressful. And I won’t have lost any flexibility.

I was unable to do a proper leg opening ride in preparation. Instead I had to make do with some turbo misery the evening before. This left me a bit dehydrated, which I probably carried through to race day. I also didn’t get chance to open the legs up properly to prepare the body for racing. I was done after 40mins on the turbo. I knew I wasn’t enjoying it and didn’t feel as though it was doing me any good. I did one 10 minute effort at 300w as an ‘opener’ and that was that.

I can’t really complain though. The reason I found myself with no time to ride is because I was picking up a new 4×4 to ferry me to and from these events. Ever since I started competing I’ve lusted after something bigger. Something more willing to carry all my gear than the Audi A3 I’ve had for the last 10 years.

I’m extremely happy with my new ride. I can chuck my bike in the boot without even having to remove the wheels. Along with my bag, turbo trainer, and anything else I need. It’s huge! The boot also makes for a nice comfortable place to put my feet up when I’m hanging around before my start time.

Anyway, let’s get on to some bike racing

The route

Thanks to road works there was a lot less climbing in the revised route. Which started a few miles further down the road in Hurst green. Did two laps of the Bashall Road Race circuit, before heading back the same way to finish just outside of Knowle Green village.

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Personally I would’ve preferred the original route. There should have been a nice long undulating descent, into a headwind but fast all the same. Followed by one lap of the Bashall circuit before climbing all the way back to the start with a tailwind. I would’ve benefited nicely from that extra wind-assisted climbing!

My ride

I arrived early, got my kit on and did a recce of the original course as a warm up. I was feeling okay but there was no magic in the legs. It was a bit cold, and despite my efforts I still felt quite unprepared. At this point I was unsure if that was good or bad. Not having given the race much thought could always work in my favour.

Once I was back at HQ, I signed on and sat in my rather spacious boot sipping drink and waiting for my start time of 11:15. It was bloody freezing though. Before I knew it I was back in the Village Hall HQ hugging the radiator with top bloke Ian Sibbert for company.

We rolled to the start together freezing our knackers off in the chilly head wind.

I set out feeling good, spinning at a comfortably difficult pace trying not to get over excited and go too hard. It was the start of a good ride, but all too quickly things started to go wrong. I had no major dramas but more than once I was slowed down by traffic or other riders. The first incident was the worst. A short but sharp dip in the road allows you to pick up a fair bit of speed. Speed which is handy once you cross the narrow bridge over the River, and find yourself on an equally sharp but somewhat longer ramp back up and out towards Bashall Eaves. So it was just my luck that as I came plummeting down towards the narrow bridge I was forced to slam on the brakes while three cars tried to sort out who had right of way. The two on my side of the road in front of me, or the one chap trying to get over the other way. I lost all momentum and it was a bit of a struggle getting up the other side and on top of a decent gear again.

Shortly after this I found myself approach a rather slow moving car with an even slower moving rider just in front of it. As it’s a race I threw caution to the wind and started to overtake. Just as a car came flying towards us on the other side of the road. I was committed to the move now though. I stayed on the white diving line and hoped for the best, sandwiched between the two great lumps of metal moving rather quickly in opposite directions. They were right to beep me, but there was no way I wanted to lose any more time.

My effort remained manageable – too manageable really – as I completed the first loop, and turned into the headwind to face the same again. I was always on top of my gear but it just wasn’t enough to really do the damage I wanted. In hindsight, I should’ve given it more. But did I have more in me? On paper yes, but who knows?

Just I was finishing lap two another slow(er) rider held me up by a good few seconds, also forcing me to take a wide line on a corner. With the circuits now done it was a case of trying to empty the tank to the finish.

I just had no idea where the finish was. I’m quite pleased with how I held on, but as always I should’ve just been screaming trying to hang on. Legs, lungs, everything. Instead it was more “oh, this is uncomfortable”. I’d given it a good go when I crossed the line but in my heart I knew it wasn’t my best performance.

I try not to kick myself when I know I could’ve done better. It seems to be every race to be honest. I think I’ve just forgotten just how hard I can go when I put my mind to it. In the past I’ve done something like 45 minutes at around 190bpm. The legs had probably blown early doors to be fair on that ride, but I was still stubborn enough to keep going until my heart almost exploded. I need to be able to do that in competition too!

I’m not racing next week so am looking forward to doing a big block of training. Lets hope I remember how to suffer properly somewhere between now and the Circuit of the Dales. I wouldn’t mind doing the ride of my life there. It looks like a good course and one I’ve had my eye on for a few years.