Some of you may have read last year about my first introduction to Crit racing. It’s fairly safe to say that it didn’t go quite to plan. Let me give a brief recap –
I entered the annual Archer Spring Crit at Hillingdon in April 2015. I thought that I’d prepared reasonably well, I was feeling good on the bike and had done some decent group rides. I turned up, signed on, got warmed up, took to the start line and essentially got a thorough and profound kicking for 45 minutes. I spent the entire race trying to move through from the back of the pack and for the most part, failing. I eventually got dropped with 15 minutes still to go, packed my car and drove home with my tail fairly well tucked between my legs.
That was the end of my racing aspirations until June this year when a friend (https://off-the-back.com) encouraged me to enter the Berkhamsted Revolution Castle Crit. Now, before we talk about that, I should mention that I few things have changed since last year.
Firstly I quit my job and took some fairly unsocial early morning work, leaving my afternoons free to train.
Secondly I started doing the commute by bike, 23km each way, between 2-5 days a week depending on weather and fatigue.
Thirdly I have invested in a Power2Max power meter to bring some data and structure to my training.
Fourthly I had an accident in May which left me off the bike for nearly a month, and wrote off my faithful Trek, which has since been replaced by (I hope an equally faithful) Cervelo which I am already in love with.
So how did all this link in to going racing again?! Well in short, he suggested it, and I jumped in with both feet.
My race was 4th Cat only, 30 minutes on a closed roads course around the Castle, run by the guys at Berkhamsted Cycling club. I did a fair bit of reconnaissance in the weeks building up to the event and knew the circuit like the back of my hand. Come race day, the plan was to sit mid-pack and try to finish with the bunch. Hopefully learning some of the skills I need to ride in a pack at the same time.
We set off and I started in the mid-pack. Over the course of the first few laps I worked my way through to the first 10, feeling a bit safe with fewer wheels around me. Meanwhile, Jules, a member of our small group of social riders had also worked through to the pack and was busy trying to pull off a breakaway worthy of a certain Mr Voigt. It didn’t work, but it looked superb while he was trying and certainly thinned the bunch.
Around 10 minutes in I found myself on the front through the fastest corner on the circuit, my handling skills clearly still intact from the MTB days. I tucked back in to the back and clung on, moving through the wheels and avoiding one crash which had me working back to the leaders.
Come the final 3 laps and I sat in and picked my lines through the turns convinced that any minute they were going to burst away and I’d be left in a gutter. The big move never came, and on the final lap I managed to sit in the top 10 going in to the final corner and found a gap big enough to get me through to 7th place. Jules also managed to stay in the group to finish in 14th.
So, my first finish, and my first BC points towards moving up through the licence categories. I am well aware that they won’t all work out well like this, but I think that the bug has bitten and I will definitely be back for more Crit racing. In fact, I’ve already entered my next one in a fortnight.
In my next post I’ll give some insight in to my data from the race, but for now, 3 days since the race, I’m off to pat myself on the back again.