Won a race once. AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT

  • Bonk

    Please don’t be broken
    Please don’t be broken
    Please don’t be broken
    The hideous sound of carbon wheel rim smacking against unyielding stone step went right through me. The lower-than-I-thought-it-was pressure in the rear tub had offered little in the way of cushioning and the first couple of pedal strokes away from the step up out of the baron at Hoghton Tower were a lot softer than you might have expected from a sprint to the finish line when you’re leading the race with 2nd and 3rd place right behind you.

    Frankly I would have deserved to knacker the rear wheel, the way I’d been riding. I’d managed to get back up to the leaders after slamming on the brakes during the first sprint from the start to avoid having a big crash as another rider swerved across in front of me (a ‘racing incident’ rather than anything sinister or overly reckless), not once, but three times. Each time I’d thrown away the results of the effort by wiping out needlessly, having to pick myself up, hope no-one saw (of course they did) and get back into the chase.

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    Pic by Ellen

    Eventually I managed to string enough laps together with no rolling around on the ground to get on terms with Ste and James and from then on it was just a proper battle round the stodgy climbs and (ace) swoopy descents. I was in front when I exited the wooded section on our final lap. I was almost grinning about having made it over the tree roots upright rather than sprawling around in the dirt as I had done in previous laps, but with no time to glace around I had no real idea by how far behind or how quickly anyone was closing on me.

    Thankfully I had enough space to mince a few wincing pedal strokes away from the step before crossing the finish line in 1st. Chuffed. Chuffed and sore, as I’d managed to whip off all the scabs that had formed over last week’s grazes, leaving me with freshly bloodied shins again. One day I’ll get round without crashing…

    A mixture of elation and pre planned stupidity saw me ride straight back over from the finish line to the pits, quickly swap over to a freshly cleaned bike (thank you pit crew!), squeeze an energy gel down my neck and back to the start line to race in the seniors event. I wanted to get as much race level practice in as possible (and god knows I needed to keep practicing the skills!) without any stress, so I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get too caught up in the racing.
    Obviously that plan lasted all of about 10 seconds. From mid pack off the start I worked my way through the racing around me, ignoring the little voice in my head that kept chanting “Exactly what is fueling all this effort? You’ve had 2 gels since warming up for the V40 race.” and “You should have had a drink in between races. It’s very hot isn’t it…” It was hot, which I hadn’t really planned for, and I was beginning to feel like hydration was going to start playing a part in the effort soon enough, but for now, chase people down.
    I made my way from the mid thirties up to about 13th place before the metaphorical wheels came off. Seeing the lap board read “5” (hello to everyone at the start/finish line who kept cheering me on!) as the first twinges of cramp set in was a sobering sight. 5 of THOSE laps, with all those sharp, steep climbs. Maybe I should have just finished the first race and bought myself a coffee instead…

    As those laps crawled past I started to drop back through the field, less and less able to stick on the wheel of whoever past me each time someone did, focusing on getting up the climbs without dismounting and riding the tricky sections cleanly while ignoring the dead feeling coming from my now empty legs. I couldn’t form any spit to get rid of any mud that got in my mouth either, which was pretty grim. grim enough to make my mind up when someone shouted that Giles wasn’t that far behind me. I had the option of putting in one final (no doubt feeble) effort to get across the line before he lapped me, or just plodding on at the pace I was at and finishing straight away, one lap down.

    He was very gracious as he rode past to his first win of the NWCCA season, while I gazed vacantly down at my stem laughing internally at my own stupidity for picking this particular race to try and “double up” for the first time. 🙂

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    “You dick” Pic by Ellen

    I finished 16th, as it turns out, which falls into the “could be worse” category.

     

    8:40 pm on September 8, 2019 | No Comments | # |

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