Velo Club Moulin

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Racing In The Rain - Part II

Sunderland Clarion CC 3/4 - 23rd August 2014

My recent 3rd place at Crit Under The Castle stirred an interest in chasing the required point for 3rd cat.  A look at a sparse calendar on the BC site revealed that I had left it a bit late in the year to start collecting points.

This explains why I found myself in Hetton-le-Hole near Durham today to race in a 3/4 race.  It was all a bit last minute, I only decided at 11pm last night to make the trip.  The decision was made on the promise of a hill which I wasn't convinced existed.  I'd heard on the grapevine that it wasn't a standard pan flat crit course but google maps suggested only subtle changes in elevation.

It turns out there were two small hills, a slightly steeper one at the back of the circuit and one on the finishing straight.  There was also rain, lots of rain.

The course suited me well.  The hills were just big enough to dominate the course and made it easier than normal for me to stay at the front of the race.  I probably tried to get away about 8 times in a 16 lap race, normally on the climb at the back of the circuit but I never managed to make anything stick.

With 5 laps to go I decided to sit in and wait for the finish.  On the penultimate run to the line I was in perfect position about 5 wheels back.  Unfortunately on the final ascent of the back climb I had a bit of a rush of blood to the head and found myself at the front of the race.  With hindsight I was only half a mile from the finish and should have gone all in.  Instead I tried to be cute and let a couple of riders come past but I got swarmed and ended up back in about 12 - 15th.  I managed to put in a good finish and came in 8th.  All in all it was a worthwhile trip, it was a good race on a nice circuit and I managed to collect a couple more points.

Strangely I have described my race without mentioning it's overwhelming feature; torrential rain.  The middle of this race was close to the coldest I have ever been on a bike, right up there with Mull last year or the infamous ERC48 round a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I better go and check the calendar to check where I can find 3 more points.

I'll try and add another post or two describing the highs (hint: hills) and lows of my summer on the bike.

Racing In The Rain

I've been doing a much better job of getting out on my bike this summer than writing about it on here.  After seeing Chris's recent post about the lack of action on this blog I have finally stirred into action.

I've probably raced over a dozen times since my last post but I'm going to start with my two most recent outings.  Conveniently these were two of my best results of the summer.

Crit Under The Castle - 10th August 2014

Addy and I were both signed up to race in the Cat 4 race at Crit Under The Castle.  Maddy was also racing in the Women's Race.  This was a new promotion by Stirling Bike Club and it was an shining example of how to put on an event.  The race took place on closed roads in Stirling City Center and involved over 90 marshals.  In addition to the normal motos for race security they had Cyclevox on hand to film the races from the back of a motorbike.  This must surely have been the most 'pro' feeling cat 4 race ever.

The day got of to a bit of an inauspicious start, the rain as I drove round the city bypass was torrential.  So bad in fact that I seriously considered turning round and heading home.  Never mind racing, it was a nightmare just trying to get there.

After parking up in a multi story carpark I set up my rollers only to be promptly chased off by a member of staff who thought they looked too dangerous.  One thing was for sure, the thought of carrying them and a bike down 4 flights of concrete steps seemed far more dangerous so that was the end of my shortest warmup ever.

By the time our race started, 30 minutes late, due to crashes in previous races, the rain had eased off significantly.  There were races all day so there wasn't a chance to ride the course which made the first lap interesting.  The main feature of the course was a cobbled climb which was followed by a descent and a short flat run in to the finish.  The cobbled climb was fine but it was preceded by a pedestrianised section which was extremely slippy, particularly where a metal drain ran across it.

Fortunately the fast pace in the first few laps thinned the bunch quite quickly to around 15 riders which was much safer in the conditions.  The pedestrianised section was so treacherous that for most of the race I dropped back to about 10 bike lengths behind the small bunch and rode back up on the hill.

After about 15 minutes Jarlath Flynn of ERC attacked at the back of the circuit.  I went with him but we got caught by the bunch after a lap or two.  It seemed like a good place to attack so I decided to try again in the closing laps.  The rest of the race was pretty steady as the bunch stuck together. With 2 laps to go I attacked again in the same place.  Jarlath came with me and we got away again.  With half a lap to go we got caught again but surprisingly nobody counter attacked.  I attacked again as hard as I could and managed to make it over the top of the climb at the front of the race.  Jarlath passed me at the start of the final straight.  Inside the last 100m or so Graham Kelly of Hardie Bikes passed both of us to take the win.  I managed to hold on for 3rd.  Addy finished close behind in 6th.

Unfortunately Maddy's race didn't go so well and she retired with a broken mech caused by a first lap fall.

I can't praise this event highly enough.  It was fantastically well organised and it was a thrill to race in the city centre.  Hopefully in future years the organisers will get the weather they deserve to make this into a carnival of cycling.

If you look closely you might catch the VCM kit in the video:

Friday, 8 August 2014