The circuit at Longcross is one of my favourites – it’s about two miles each lap, which is largely flat and straight but with a testing section nicknamed “the snake” which throws in a few twists and turns with a sharp uphill followed by a smooth descent. It’s nice and wide so there is plenty of space to play with.
The race was shortened a little due to confusion at the start, but once it got going we settled into a good pace. I recognised some of my opponents from previous races, so had an idea of who to watch out for. I tried to maintain a good position in the group, by moving near to the front each time we approached “the snake” so that I could set my own pace on the hills and take the best line on the descent. The group mainly stayed together until the end. On the last lap the pace slowed in anticipation of the inevitable sprint finish.
The men’s race which was run at the same time passed us as we came into the snake for the final time, which meant we had to move to one side of the road to allow them space while our race was unofficially neutralised. Once the men were clear we continued, but I had dropped back in the group in the process. As we exited the snake I was in around 10th position, the furthest back I had been all race. A small gap had appeared between the leading riders and those of us at the back, but I managed to jump across before we came round into the headwind of the final straight.
The finishing straight is really long, meaning it’s easy to see the end and sprint too early. I had to remind myself we were still a long way from the finish, and sat in behind the others making sure I was in a good gear for a sprint. The rider in front of me looked like she was preparing to charge for the line, pulling out to the side of the group, but seemingly changed her mind and tucked herself in again. In my head I am saying “wait… Wait… Wait…” until the time felt right and I like a race horse out of the starting gates couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I pulled over towards the right side of the road, aiming to keep potential challengers off my wheel and just pushed as hard and as fast as my legs would go, just about holding the speed to the line and claiming my first win!