Guildford Town Centre Crits
I put in a last minute plea to enter this race and the race organiser (Jon Lewis) kindly allowed me to take part with a late entry.
I cycled over to Guildford early to allow me to take it easy on the way over and give me plenty of time to prepare, sign-on and see the course as I had heard it’s quite punchy (it is!). Because of the multiple rides going on it isn’t possible to ride the course beforehand, so I just rode round the outskirts of what I could, I was particularly interested in the left hander just before Café Nero which I found later was a 90 degree angle with a kink in the apex.
Whilst the other races were underway I had found my boss at Bike Beans Cycle Café (BBCC) who came down to show support, a number of friendly faces from (BBCC) and Sophie Jonson and James who were on hand to give further support and advice.
Unfortunately in one of the junior races a young girl had come off at 90 degree turn and was in a bad way the ambulance was on scene and tending to her. This meant that the following races were all delayed by 1hr 15mins, I believe the girl is ok and it was just precautionary.
By the time our race was up my prep had been miscalculated and I was hungry so I had a quick gel (which I don’t usually do). I could hear the commentators reading through the start line sheet and pointing out the ‘big gun’ who were here for business and some who would be coming with form straight from the Criterium Team Series (Melissa Brand – Team Ford Eco Boost and Nikki Junipers team mate, Rebecca Carter – Team WNT, Mathilde Pauls, Maryka Sennema, Annabel Fisher amongst others), to no surprise my name wasn’t mentioned. This wasn’t an event I was particularly confident in anyway as I had never competed or even took part in a town centre criterium before and the concept was foreign to me.
On the start line I found myself on the back-foot and at the back, I immediately knew that this was not good. Once we got going it was full gas from the get go and the field had already disintegrated, unfortunately for me I was at the back and could see the bunch ahead. As I approached the 90 degree corner I saw one girl on the floor and was glad I wasn’t that close. After the 90 degree angle there is a rise followed by another 90 degree and another rise onto the cobbles of Guildford high street, this is where I began my chase. Each lap is very short, around 50-55 seconds, and with the race being cut down to 15 minutes due to the junior race incident I knew I needed to work hard and work quickly. I began to bridge to a bunch group and made my way to the front, I could see two riders working strongly ahead of me and with the help of the commentators I knew who they were (Mathilde and Maryka) and knew it would be no easy feat. I broke from the bunch and began to chase solo once again, I bridged the gap, just(!), as I did I noticed, to my humour, that the commentators had no idea who I was and could hear them frantically filling the silence with my number trying to identify me as a name and not number 23.
On the penultimate lap I was able to stick until that damned 90 degree corner where they cornered perfectly (unlike me) and accelerated away from me. I tried to regain their wheel but knowing the finish line was under 100m away I knew I had nothing left having worked so hard to bridge to them to contest for anything in the sprint, I looked around with no-one near me and crossed the line in 3rd. This was the first race where I have actually felt physically sick, so at least I know I worked hard, either that or I didn’t agree with the gel… I’m hoping it was the former!
I am really pleased with this result, knowing the calibre of the racers and their experience, the technicality of the course and how I worked to bridge the gap. I’ll never know if I could have achieved a greater result or even contested the sprint had I started at the front on the start line but I do know that they may read my name out in the commentary box next year.
Congratulations to Mathilde and Maryka who rode strong and very well together, thank you to Charlotteville CC who put together a very enjoyable event and a massive thank you to everyone who attended, hearing you cheer me on at each corner and along the cobbles was an amazing feeling and I have no doubt this spurred me on!
I hope to do the Paragon proud in the next race!
No report attached