10th March. LVRC Ciclos Uno Spring Crits at Hog Hill
After winning my first two races of the 2017 season; am I feeling pressure to keep the run going? Err, no is the short answer. Perhaps I should be more worried. I briefly consider diving back into the Steve Peters book to look for some high-brow psychological theory about what I should be thinking. But then I remember that the last time my chimp got out of his cage he ran off with the book and I never got to finish it! So instead I decide to reflect on some sound advice from the giant of sports coaching that is Tommy Cooper…
Tommy Cooper: The card that you have selected is not the queen of diamonds. Is that correct?
Audience Member: Yes that is correct – it’s not the queen of diamonds.
Tommy Cooper: And your card is not the two of clubs either is it?
Audience Member: Correct, it’s not the two of clubs.
Tommy Cooper: Your card is the ace of spades. Is that right?
Audience Member: No, it’s the seven of hearts!
Tommy Cooper: Ah well, two out of three is not bad is it?
Indeed it’s not Tommy! Great. That’s the mind games sorted. Let’s get on with some racing…
The biblical rain that has been forecast all week has thankfully failed to materialise and a large field of over 60 riders sign on for the hour plus 5 laps race. The legend that is, Anthony Wallis is one of that number, so assuming normal service is resumed, that is first place riding off into the distance.
The first lap is run off fairly easily so I put in a dig up the climb and round the cut-through. I get a gap, but the attentive bunch rapidly back up to me – and then flashing past at pace. And from that point the pace didn’t really drop for the rest of the race.
Anthony did his usual and clipped off after a lap or two and all appeared fairly routine. There wasn’t too much to report for the next 50 minutes. The pace remained high. There were skirmishes aplenty, but no one else managed to escape the bunch.
But not everything was quite as normal. In the distance, the orange jersey of Mr Wallis was not stretching away. Indeed he wasn’t making his usual progress at all. And when the whistle went to announce another prime sprint for the bunch around the 45 minute mark, the resultant acceleration brought him back within range. A couple of guys bridged first, but it wasn’t long before a strung out bunch had consumed all three. 51 minutes (I know coz I checked my Garmin to mark this momentous occasion!) raced and Anthony Wallis back in the pack. That’s the first time I’ve seen that! So we’re all set for a sprint royal.
As we reach the hour mark the 5 laps to go board comes out and you can feel the nervousness in the bunch. I ride up alongside Anthony and give him a friendly bump. “We’re still here” I tell him. “I know” he replies “that wasn’t supposed to happen, didn’t you read the rules”. “Ah” I retort “there are new rules this season…”.
4 laps to go. There are more attacks and I can really feel it in my legs as once again the front of the bunch is stretched into a long thin line. I briefly ponder whether, given the fatigue I am feeling whether I might be better off sitting this one out and easing back through the bunch. But I resolve to stick with it and to move right to the front of the bunch to keep out of trouble.
The next couple of laps pass without major incident. At least for me, safely ensconced in the front line of the bunch. Behind I can hear the familiar screeching of brakes and screeching of voices as things amongst the 60 odd “old enough to know betters” gets a bit tasty.
A rider in black decides to push things on. I take his wheel and I am second in line as we take the bell. It’s probably too far forward. But it’s safe and this may have been a wise decision as ahead of us on the circuit is a car! This is never a good sign as it means that there are riders down somewhere on the circuit in need of first aid. At some point the car will stop and there may be riders on the track. And we’re gearing up for the sprint!
As we take the left hander at the back of the circuit the car has pulled off to the right hand side of the track. A rider just about bum-shuffles himself off the track before we arrive. We’re safely past – but as soon as we are, there is an attack. We’re still some 500m from the line so this is a bit of a flyer. But there is a hesitation and he has a small gap.
I can’t wait and make the snap decision to close him down. I quickly close the gap, but the effort has probably sealed my fate. As we reach the final bend the sprint starts on my right. I try to respond but my legs are sadly lacking in the zing department today. The final 100m are just a suffer-fest with everyone just trying to hang on to the line. You could pretty much throw a blanket over the first half dozen riders. Well OK, maybe a large tarpaulin! But it was pretty close. I end up 4th and 2nd C cat rider.
I am fairly pleased with that. I have had a good week in training. I am into the “Build” phase now and I can feel the fatigue generated by the additional intensity in my legs. One more week and I get a rest and hopefully with it the benefits of super-compensation – or what my legs know as a bit more zing. I was close today – a bit more zing is just what is needed!