Ben Hardisty writes…
Having decided to try out road racing this year, I was tackling my third different course in as many weeks. This time it was up to Redbridge Cycle Centre in East London otherwise known as Hog Hill for a SERRL 3rd/4th cat event. One hour + 5 laps.
The traffic on the A12 kept me from arriving too early for the event although in the end I had 40 minutes to get myself together. Really superb facilities awaited me with a cafe, changing rooms, showers etc and a lovely road circuit. A whopping £4.5 million has been spent via the London Development agency to produce a state of the art cycling centre (covering road trials as well at mtb).
I had been told that this course keeps riders ‘honest’ as there is a short climb that does not allow riders to ‘sit in’ the bunch. This climb also checks whether you’ve set up your bike correctly as I was to find out. A quick warm up of a few laps told me that this was going to be a very tough ride, the climb requiring a lot of energy to maintain a decent speed.
The whistle sounded and after a quick chat from the commissaire we were off. I had positioned myself on the second row of riders but I was soon at the back after failing to clip in several times. Never mind, I was in the group, however the bunch was really shifting and soon we carving our way around many of the tight bends in the circuit.
Then it was up the climb, I hung in there but to be honest felt pretty ordinary.
Second lap I felt the same and on the third I started to struggle and a minor mechanical forced me to stop near the top of the climb. The rear wheel skewer had worked very loose and the wheel, now free to jump in the dropouts, started jamming against the frame. With a quick dismount and tightening of the skewer and I jumped back on, but rather sheepishly went past the start point completely on my own with audience watching !
Rather dishearteningly I could see the group already a quarter of a lap away, and now I had no shield from the wind. I knew my race was done but I kept going. I managed about 20 laps altogether, with the bell a very welcome sound. I did catch the odd rider here and there which provided the extra incentive to keep my legs turning.
This was a tough first ride for me on this course, but I’ll be back ! It really is a great circuit with superb facilities.