Robin Parker writes…
8th June. LVRC Hoggenburg Classic – MStina Points series, Round 4. Hog Hill
Following a fairly epic and very wet 80 miles of road race the previous day, to say that I was somewhat apprehensive to be lining up with about 60 riders for a 1 hour + 5 lap blast around Hog Hill was something of an understatement! But the sun was shining and I had set my expectations suitably low. Whatever happens, this was going to be good training.
The race was run in an interesting format based almost entirely on the lower, flat circuit. However at 20 minutes, 40 minutes and for the final 2 laps the race would ascend the fearsome (OK, so it’s just a bit of a ramp but cut me a bit of journalistic slack will you!) Hoggenburg climb to complete full laps of the circuit.
Following a fairly sedate first lap, things kicked off in usual Hog Hill big style with the bunch quickly stretched to the max. I got stuck in and found that although I could feel yesterday in my legs, they seemed to be working OK. However, as the paced eased off a tad and I was just thinking to myself “you know what, with a bunch this big around this tight circuit, the field could easily split” – the field did indeed split with more than a dozen riders disappearing up the road.
They didn’t have much of a gap and dangled tantalisingly close for quite a while. At 20 minutes we made our first ascent of the Hoggenburg and I pushed it on over the top hoping to force a small group that could close in on the leaders. I drove it down the other side and thought for a while that we might have forced the split. But within the lap the rest of the bunch had scrambled back up to us. I tried again at the 40 minute ascent and plenty of times in-between. But all with no success. It was obvious that we weren’t going to see the break again long before the 5 laps to go board came out.
As thoughts turned to a double ascent of the Hoggenburg and the finish, a couple more riders nipped away – and bravely hung on to the finish. I moved into position towards the front of the bunch as we took the bell. I was third wheel as we approached the final climb and as the front two seemed to fade a bit as the road started to ramp up I decided that I would take it to myself. I took it on early, maybe 250m from the finish. Not flat out, but just forcing it along. 200 to go and I looked back to see a line of riders on my wheel. As the road bends to the right and the gradient steepens, I kicked hard. 50 to go as the gradient eases off a bit I looked back again and this time I can see that I have a good gap. Maintain form and roll over the line to win the bunch sprint – which is way back in 15th place.
So not a great result. But I was really pleased and surprised by how good I felt after taking a right hammering the previous day. So my fitness is obviously good and there are plenty more races to come…