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: