Not every race can go as well as my last. Today was a great example of just how different every race can be and why they're so unpredictable. This weekends race was the Ilkley two day race with four stages. The first day being a 1.5 mile TT and a 55 mile road race, then day two being a 5.5 mile TTT and 33 mile road race. The day started fairly well with the sunshine breaking out from the start of the day, meaning that at least it would be a dry race. The wind didn't seem too bad at race HQ but we were in a valley so it's a little bit deceptive. I was racing alongside teammates David and Richard from AlbaRosa CC and also some familiar faces from FTR in Julian, Jamie and Nick. Looking at the start list showed me that there were a lot of second category riders in the field and some strong ones at that. This meant the weekend would likely be pretty tough.
Having arrived at HQ and set my bike up I was kindly leant some 50mm deep section wheels for the TT by my teammate David which gave me a bit of a moral boost. Okay, so in a TT over 1.5 miles they might not have the greatest impact but it's still nice to feel like you're a bit more prepared. Being a club that's alphabetically one of the first on the timesheet we would be away quite early in the day ; a bonus for recovery but not for sussing out the rest of the field.
How much can you say about a 1.5 mile TT? In all honestly not very much. I arrived at the start line and was last from my team to leave. You get a count down from 30 seconds when the man grabs your bike and holds you steady so you can prepare to go. That's probably the longest 30 seconds in the world. 5,4,3,2,1 and we're off. The TT starts by going up hill for a couple of hundred yards before downhill for much of the rest of the ride, ending in one final long drag to the finish. I managed a 3 minutes 14 seconds (28mph) on the clock which was good enough for a mid-field position so I was happy enough with that. David managed to sneak a top ten finish so that was some early points for him to spur on the team.
TT over we head back to HQ where we would spend the next two hours eating cake, planning for the road race and generally having a good catch up. The temperature was rising and it looked like the afternoon would be scorching. The afternoon came around fairly quickly and after a quick race briefing we got back on the bikes for the 6 mile neutralised ride to the start. During the neutralised ride there was plenty of chatter amongst riders of putting the hammer down to reduce the bunch from the off so I paid attention to this in hope I could maybe hang on.
The race started in a furious nature as the strongest riders looked to drop as many people as possible as quickly as they could. After the initial downhill section we were on the long back straight of Pennypot where today the cross-headwind would just prove too much for most people including me. I saw the peleton splitting into three distinct groups so I thought I had better move up the bunch and try to wheel surf into a safe position. Unfortunately in doing so I used more energy than I thought so slipped back into the third bunch presuming the race would come back together.
The race never did come back together and from that point onwards it became more of a TT than race for me as I began to try and battle back towards the front. Obviously one man taking on what felt like the world was never going to happen and I soon found myself in no-mans land. However just as in my last race I found myself with Julian from FTR and we began to work together for much of lap two to try and remain in the race in some capacity. This time though Julian was too strong in the headwind for me.
Two more laps passed by of effectively TT riding before I suddenly saw team mate David in the distance stood by the road side. It turns out he had been subject to two punctures up the road and now a third leaving him stranded. This is where the weekend ends for me. I decided that rather than struggle on I would give the stronger rider of the two of us my wheel to carry on and hopefully finish the race so that they could start day 2. There was no neutral service nearby so this was the most sensible option for the team.
Wheel change done and David up the road again I settled down and waited for a lift back to HQ. That's my race weekend over but it meant that the stronger of us could start the next day. It was also great to hear that our other teammate Richard was still riding in one of the latter groups on the road and had made the time cut for tomorrow so David has some support on the road.
It's a tough start to the weekend but a learning curve all the same and something I hope to build on in the future. As usually thanks are to Science in Sport and Madison Clothing for keeping me on the road. I'll spend the rest of the weekend cheering on the team and taking a steady recovery ride now.
Further thanks are once again to Ilkley CC for putting on the event and making this weekend possible!
Onto the next one!