20th April. BC Masters 40+ at Preston Park (Après Wacky Races 7)
Robin Parker writes…
It’s been a while since my last report – on account of it being a while since my last race! Not long after my last event, I got hit by a nasty virus which resulted in me spending a week in bed and a further 2 weeks off the bike. And I was still a bit up and down for the week after that. So my training has taken a bit of a hit and if I’m honest it’s been a bit of a blow to the confidence and motivation also. But I’ve been back into training for a couple of weeks now and it was time to make a return to racing.
Having scanned the race calendar I spotted a Masters 40+ age group event down at Preston Park. The weather forecast wasn’t good so I packed all my wet weather gear. And I was very pleased that I did as it was absolutely lashing it down for the event.
Perhaps deterred by the weather, it was a relatively small field of maybe a dozen or so riders that took the start. As ever, I was keen to get on with the racing and I joined another rider in the first attack of the day before we’d even completed the first half lap! We stayed out front for only a lap or two, but it’s always reassuring when having been caught, that the bunch takes a bit of a breather. This shows that there must have been a bit of a chase and that everyone was keen to catch their breath. I knew that I was!
Attack followed attack pretty much from then on in as riders tried to get away and were pulled back. Then the bunch would split and then reform again. And then the attacking would start again. All great fun!
I figured pretty early on that (a) my fitness isn’t yet back to where it was at the beginning of March so I was going to have to play this one a bit crafty and (b) with everyone watching each other I didn’t think any move would stick until maybe a sneaky move 5 minutes from time when tired legs and thoughts of the finish can lead to a hesitation in the bunch. And so it was that I followed wheels and only closed things down when I sensed danger of a move sticking.
None of the moves came to anything and I figured that I’d done a pretty good job of marshalling my reserves. As the 5 minutes to go mark loomed on my Garmin and the latest attack was reeled in I sensed that the moment to attack was at hand. I was just about to hit the launch button when another rider moved first. I was on his wheel in a flash and, as I had hoped, the bunch hesitated and we were gone…
We never had much of a gap – maybe half a lap or so at most. It was really hard to tell what with the rain and the spray, so we just kept pedalling. I got lucky with my ‘choice’ of breakaway companion. He was strong and putting in longer turns than I was able to. And he was also the only rider to have a team mate in the bunch to sit on any further breakaway attempts. Perfect!
The 5 minutes until the 5 laps to go board came out felt like about half an hour! But from then on, the laps counted down quickly and my confidence was now starting to build. I did my last pull on the front and dropped to second position as we took the bell. I wasn’t sure if my breakaway companion would want to play cat and mouse or if he had a sprint. As it happened, I needn’t have worried. My fellow escapee pulled hard for the whole last lap, keen to ensure that we stayed clear of what was sure to be a hard charging bunch sprint – but which neither of us could make out through the rain! The final result was never in doubt from the moment that I accelerated past my companion around the final banking and surged ahead to take the line in first position. Yes!
It’s good to be back! I can now focus on putting in some solid training before the first target events of the year (mid-May and early-June). Next week sees the start of the LVRC MSTina points competition. With a larger field and it being my first race of over 2 hour’s duration this year, this will present a different challenge. But one that I’m already looking forward to!