All week I had been thinking about this race, I had done my homework – knew the race line up and who to look out for, previous year’s races, the winning time and the average speed. I was feeling very nervous. But it then dawned on me that I was entering this race without a reputation, with nothing to lose and everything to gain and the nerves were fading, and fast. Although I had never entered or competed in a road race, or a race of this distance (55 miles) taking in different gradients, road terrain and gradients, I was feeling positive and was excited to take part. I knew prior to the race that if I could stick it out with the main bunch and contest the sprint then I would be happy with my effort, but being a competitive person I don’t enter races not to compete, try to succeed or dream of that 1st place.
As the race began I knew, and was told to keep in the front third to stay out of trouble and to keep an eye out on any breaks. It took not even the first lap for someone to try and attempt a breakaway but the group chased down not wanting any early breaks to happen. Another rider attacked and this time she gained another rider and these two were away for a little while but the group remained un-phased and we caught the two up after one of the drags. By this time the group had dropped a few from the back of the pack but it was still around a 15-20 strong peloton. After following the two up breakaway another rider decided to give it a go and broke away but no one wanted to follow and she was allowed to go, she was away for about 25 miles and we were given frequent time checks from the side lines. At one point she had created a gap of 50 seconds but this was brought back with some work from the chasing peloton at the beginning of the fourth lap. By this point I told myself not to do anymore work on the front after having done my fair share on the front chasing the breakaway, I think many of the riders took this mind-set knowing that the end of the race was becoming closer.
On the final lap a strong climber took to the front of the group and set the pace at the front particularly on the hills, she was followed by another strong rider and I decided that I wasn’t prepared to let these two get away and remained on their wheels for the remainder of this lap, a few more riders had dropped but there was still around 12 – 15 riders following. By the final few turns I knew whose wheel I wanted to follow for the sprint (I had now told myself that a result was on the cards provided I continued to work) and I also told myself that I needed to take the next turn wide so I wouldn’t be boxed in on the sprint. However, this didn’t happen as there was an attack on the final hill and I was stuck to the left hand side of the road and had to work hard to get through a gap as to not lose any momentum and lose the group. On the approach to the sprint I was still stuck to the left hand side and the rider in front of me began to lose momentum and I wasn’t going down without a fight and I proceeded to shout my way through “EITHER SPRINT OR GET OUT OF THE WAY”, neither happened and I could see out of the corner of my eye that two riders on the right hand side were getting away. I managed to squeeze my way through a small gap and was gaining on second but it was all too late and the finish line had approached and I crossed the line in third.
For my first road race I take this as a positive, I learnt a lot about positioning, technique and working as a group. I have also learnt about attacking and when to attack and having the confidence to attack which is something I hope to employ in my next race if I feel the time is right. I also want to congratulate the winner Laura Cameron (Drops in Cycling) as she has returned magnificently from undergoing leg surgery, and to second place Elise Sherwell (Blazing Saddles).
No report attached