Ben Hardisty writes…
After procrastinating about Road Racing for far too long, it was time to force the issue, and so with my newly purchased BCF membership and silver licence in hand, on Sunday morning I set off early to Goodwood motor circuit to take part in a 4th Cat road race.
A bit of a drive but it was well worth it. The rain forecast earlier in the week was replaced with a brisk wind, but warm and patchy sunny conditions. An ideal venue for my first road race, the superbly maintained motor circuit is more or less flat, with a smooth wide riding surface, and no traffic apart from a couple of commissaire cars.
I had time for a quick spin round the circuit, to check out the wind and the corners. The 4th category race was due off at 09:30 (80 riders), with the ladies 3rd/4ths (30/40 riders) due off one minute later. Before we started the commissaire gave us some friendly but firm advice and then we were off (13 laps, 30 miles).
Tucked safely in the middle of the bunch I kept a careful eye on those just in front and around me on the first lap which was a sedate affair. On the second lap the pace increased and I did have to dig in to stay with the bunch. However having had a “rest” on lap three I was now finding the race more comfortable.
In fact on lap six or seven I was feeling much better and did a short stint on the front, but on turning into the home straight and into the wind I quickly realised I needed to save my legs and half a lap later I was back in the bunch. By this time we were catching the ladies peleton and there was plenty of shouting, urging the ladies to one side, naturally one or two ladies took advantage of the much larger mens group.
During the last few laps I started to think about the end of the race, position was going to be all important. The top straight at Goodwood is fast, and on the final lap the pace was furious with everyone jostling for a good position on the final corner. I managed to get in the first twenty or thirty riders and once we had cleared the chicane it was head down and pedal furiously for the final few hundred metres.
I finished 18th and with better positioning could (should) have got a top ten finish. So room for improvement there. Overall a very enjoyable and satisfying ride, I’m already planning my next outing. Goodwood is an excellent venue to try out your first road race.