More Photos Here (links to Luke’s Photos in 500px)
7am, Saturday 18th June, Gemma, Mikey, Nick and Myself loaded the van and set off for Bristol, in search of cycling glory at the Bristol GP, a set of city centre criterium races organized by le Sportif CC.
The closed road course was a figure of eight, running up , under and around Bristol’s famous Park Street. It was pretty clear from our recce lap that this was going to be an all-out, hour long interval session full of tight bends, narrow roads, the odd drain-cover, and short, sharp climbs. There was even a couple of metres of cobbles if you took one of the corners right.
I was up first, for the 4th Category race at 1.30. Unusually for me, I was organized enough for a full 30 minute warmup. I apologize to anyone who I fooled into thinking I was a semi-professional rider (including the cameraman who filmed my warmup), with Gemma standing there with a stopwatch giving me instructions.
After a neutralized first lap behind an electric car, the race was on, and I managed to stay near the front for a few laps, before the inevitable happened, my legs started burning, heart hit maximum, and I started slipping backwards through the field on what must have been the 4th or 5th ascent of Park Street. After that it was me on my own, finding a rhythm and trying to mop up any places going. The excitement of the pack was gone, but through the carefully controlled pain, it was fun just to ride as fast as I could around this excellent course in a city centre, with crowds and loud teammates (thanks guys) cheering me on. Its not everyday you get to experience this. As with most crit races, if you lose the field, eventually they will lap you. When it happened, I pulled aside, let them through, and carried on, keen not to ruin anyone’s race. Eventually my group of one grew and I found more back-markers. I’m still not sure which lap they were on. I found a bit of energy towards the end and managed to out-sprint two of my three companions up the hill to the finish line. All that racing took a lot out of me, so I ate 2 more flapjacks, bringing the days tally to 4.
Next up were Nick and Mikey in the 3rd Cat race. With his new Marcel Kittel style haircut and some pre-race nerves, Mikey looked primed and ready to attack the bunch, and anyone else who stood in his way. After a lap or so of riding together, team tactics went out the window when the pack fragmented, leaving Nick in the first chasing group, and Mikey in the next group back. The hilly circuit and fast acceleration in the corners seemed to suit Nick better, and his riding was smooth and collected throughout the race. Eventually Mikey’s group disintegrated and he was left to do a strong lone ride to the finish alone. Impressive riding from both of them on their first “proper” town crit race, against a very strong field of riders.
Last up for EGCC was Gemma in the 2/3 cat women’s race. She was up against a smaller field than the rest of us, including a team of riders who looked like they rode together a lot! This was going to make racing particularly difficult, as was the quality of the opposition in general. Starting at the back of the pack, she held on well for a few laps, but the rear-of field starting position must have made hanging on a lot harder as the field stretched out through the corners. As the race progressed, the whole pack splintered into groups of 3 or 4. Then disaster! Her rear tyre exploded in the last couple of laps, race over.
And so, after a quick meal in “The Bristolean” Cafe, we headed home for East Grinstead, only to find ourselves trapped on a closed M25 for two hours with an overheating van. The perfect end to an excellent day!
Luke de Quay
Gemma, Nick, Mikey and Luke would like to thank Phil and all the organizers at le Sportif CC for putting on such a great fun event, and for letting us race. We’re already looking forward to next year!