Another day, a different type of race, and kind of the same kind of dread. The theme of this season is dread. I’ve dreaded every race so far. When there is finally a race I’m looking forward to, I’ll inevitably end up dreading it as I’ll have put myself under loads of pressure to do really well in it. Better get used to dread.
My dread for the Frank Morgan Memorial Road Race (2/3/4) is well founded. I’m a 58kg rider who likes long climbs or punchy hills. I don’t like 90km of riding around a short, square circuit on an industrial estate. I’ve just moved up north, though, so I’ll take what’s on offer.
What’s on offer is pothole filled roads somewhere near Liverpool. What’s also on offer is the worst weather I’ve raced in. Hail, rain and relentless wind. I’m a lucky boy.
They call this race ‘The Scouse World Championships’ and I can see why. Like the worlds it’s a war of attrition. One casualty of the war looks like he’s broken his collarbone in the first couple of laps. It’s more than a gentle reminder of the danger we’re in as we pass his space blanket wrapped body every lap until an ambulance finally arrives. I hope you’re ok.
One of the first things I notice is how chatty the peloton is. I get the feeling that these guys have been smashing each other up for years, and with great humour. You don’t get chat like this in the Eastern Road Race League.
This race is exactly as I thought it would be. Fierce pace, sharp right angled bends, and a sprint out of every single one on every lap. What’s surprising, though, is how well I’m coping. After a few laps I end up on the front. A bit later in the race I’ll be in the front group when the race splits. I’ll also try and get a break to go. They’ll be the highlights.
Just before halfway and the rain and hail starts. Heading into the wind I can barely see a thing. My jersey is soaked and the wind is cutting through me. I’ve gone for the ‘ready to seriously race’ look. I’m now envious of everyone with legwarmers and full finger gloves. A couple of guys have buffs on. I want to be those guys.
The rain eases for a bit at around 60km but the circuit is drenched. This is the first time I’ve been able to see more than a couple of riders in front of me since the rain started. There’s a big break up the road. We’ll probably all just call it quits.
As if. The group all comes back together. Is that blue sky over there? No it’s just a blue fence. The sky is still grey to black. Another downpour is coming.
In an effort to get warm I hit the front. I almost go off the front with another couple of riders but we’re not committed. Then a kick up in pace and I’m in the front group. There might be riders up the road but to me this is the front group.
We fail to capitalize on the split and it’s all back together. It’s pissing it down again. My left hand isn’t working. I’m terrified that I’ll take a tumble.
At 80km I still can’t get warm and so I decide to finish 5 laps before the end. I’m not racing for anything and I’ve got bigger goals just around the corner. This has been a good and a bad experience. Bad in that I’m not sure if my left hand is now a permanent claw like device. Good in that I can actually mix it in these kind of races…. if it’s not hailing and pissing down.