Robin Parker writes…
1st September. LVRC Kentish RR. MSTina jersey series, Round 10 – A&B cats Brenchley Circuit.
The Brenchley circuit is a tough little circuit, just under 6 miles in length finishing atop the Knowle Lane climb which is maybe a shade under a kilometre in length and averaging about 6% gradient. My day didn’t start well. I overslept (despite having slept 11 for hours on Friday night); had to rush out of the house and still arrived too late to get any kind of warm up. Still, I made it to the start line OK and as the bunch rolled away I stayed towards the front to try and get some kind of a warm up.
I was probably just about warmed up as the still together bunch approached the first ascent of Knowle Lane. I was close enough to the front to see 3 riders including the super strong Vince Devine open a gap over the top of the climb. They were (I think) all A Cat (‘younger’) riders and I really didn’t fancy taking the race on from there. But that was the end of the race for the win and we never saw the three of them again until the prize presentation!
However, I was still after series points. And actually 3 A Cats off the front played quite well for me. The bunch settled in for an extended (but ultimately futile) pursuit of the leaders and I just tucked in for the ride. Each lap, I moved up to play closer order on the climb but as the race progressed the climb was taken with less and less vigour. I think that the combination of passing miles, and passing years of competitors conspiring to deny most of us the climbing velocity that we once had (either earlier in the race or earlier in our youth!)
With a couple of laps to go, 3 riders clipped off the front of the bunch and the once fairly orderly pursuit just about fell apart. I had been caught napping. Again. Only this time there had been no alarm clock to give me fair warning. And to be fair, I probably would have rolled over and ignored that one as well! So three guys just nipped off. They never had much of an advantage, but it was enough for two of them to hang on to the finish (one poor soul fading back to the bunch on the last lap).
I moved up to the front of the bunch for the final climb to the finish. The lower slopes were taken at a moderate pace. The narrow road meant that it would be impossible for those at the back to move up (at least until the pace lifted) and inevitably there was a lot of shouting and swearing from behind as nervous riders bumped each other, jostling for position. Half way up the climb the pace lifted a notch and I shadowed, keeping out of trouble and ensuring that I kept space for myself if anyone jumped. First to go was Sean ORegan around the 200m mark. I clicked up a gear, matched his pace and then accelerated past him in the last 100m to take the bunch sprint.
So 6th place and 3rd B Cat. Not a bad result and one that I can’t have any complaints about. I finished the race and immediately felt tired again. Still, I have some rest planned in this week so hopefully I’ll be feeling a little more alert come next weekend (and if anyone from EDF is reading – more alert for work this week of course)! Just 2 weeks to go until the TLI National RR champs in Cheshire. That’s the next target and I definitely want to be zinging by then…