I’ve been replaying this race over and over in my mind and it’s not really as funny as usual. Are any of them actually funny? Maybe amusing is a better word. Mildly, obviously. The journey to the start line was pretty calamitous, though. Hope you don’t mind if I write about that. I imagine you’re the sort of person who reads reports about bike races to hear about a man driving from Glossop to Skelmersdale. You seem that type.
Today I’m racing at Pimbo and first of all I think we all need to address the fact that “Pimbo” is absolutely a lot of fun to say. You probably want to say it out loud right now. Maybe shout it in a strangers face. Lovely.
It’s only going to take me an hour to drive to the race HQ but almost immediately the little red light that means I’m nearly out of petrol comes on. I choose to drive on assuming that I’m bound to go past a petrol station soon. I do go past one. I think to myself I’ll go a little further and stop at the next one. What drives me to take such risks? I’m playing a high stakes game of petrol roulette to get that adrenalin flowing before the race. There’s also been this thing called a Brexit which means we’re now living in a post apocalyptic nightmare, where people have to eke out a living fighting in the Thunderdome, and kill each other to secure the last remaining drops of gasoline. I told you that mentions of cycling would be thin on the ground so don’t even think about doing complaining.
The other reason I need a petrol station is so that I can get some money out to pay my race entry fee. I hope that is as boring as this race report gets.
I get to the race HQ with neither petrol nor money but it’s almost time for sign on to close so I think I might as well let them know I’m here. I’ll deal with the rest later.
I manage to put £12.26 worth of petrol into the Seicento, which tells you how much the ordeal has made me lose my mind. In a few months I’ll look at my bank statement and wonder why I needed such a weirdly specific amount of fuel. By that point the apocalypse will have really kicked in and I’ll probably be eating dog meat that I’ve scavenged. I hope I can get my 2nd Cat licence before then.
From HQ I have to drive 2 miles to the actual start of the race. There’s no convoy of vehicles. Just a drive through an industrial estate. You know what’s weird? Seeing a pheasant run around an industrial estate. I put this down as an ominous omen. Yesterday I saw one dead magpie. There’s not even a line in the verse about what that means.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
One dead one for everything going up in flames and then crumbling into the sea.
I make it to the start line just in time to not do any warming up at all. I’ve managed to drive around half the course, though. The positives, it’s not raining. The negatives, this is just going to be laps of an industrial estate with no need to brake at any point in the course, and no discernable hills. Made for a 57kg powerhouse then.
On the start line and a couple of things are noticeable. First is the size of the field. Must be 80 or 90 riders in this one. Second is the absence of juniors from this race. There’s a few but not many. I suppose you don’t stand too much of a chance in this one if you’re only permitted to use a 50 tooth chain ring. Again this bodes well for your 57kg powerhouse.
The race itself is actually pretty lovely. A lot of these riders are bored of this course having done it so many times. For me, these are my first 22 laps of it and I like the fact that the roads are wide, and that there’s no oncoming traffic at all thanks to the one-way system. A mention of a one-way system, and a story about nearly running out of petrol. I am really entertaining you today.
I am no sprinter. No sir. I’m not terrible but against the big guys in this race I’m not counting on out powering anyone over the final 200m. That means it’s a race for being daring. For trying to escape. When and where I’m going to try is anyone’s guess. I leave that up to whatever racing instinct I have to decide.
With maybe 10 laps to go I make my first proper move. The days main break have been away for ages but never out of sight. I see a chance to bridge over to them and go off the front with another rider. We’re working well. Theyre getting closer and the bunch are getting further away. The breakaway riders start fist-bumping each other. They must be happy that their saviours are arriving. Nope. They’ve had enough and are sitting up. I half sit up with them and half keep an eye on my counter attacking companion who has been able to carry on the move. A quick breath and I join him again but we’re not getting away now.
3 laps to go and there are 2 riders up the road. I’d like to be with them so with 2 laps to go I strike out on my own. I’m joined by another rider which could make this move work. We need to share the workload. 30 seconds on the front and then swap. Never let the pace drop. As I take over I tell my friend that it is “shit or bust.” We’ve both got to go all in. You’ll be able to tell your friends that you were out in front with one lap to go at the Pimbo World Championships. Even if is ultimately futile you’ll be able to talk about the one that got away.
My motivational team talk hasn’t worked at all. My new pal can only give me 10 second turns at best, and the speed is decreasing for most of those. I can’t criticize him, he might have been riding hard all day.
I take over and ditch the guy. We’ve nearly made the catch but it’ll only be me that reels it in. A few hundred metres into the wind and I realize the game’s up. I let the bunch gobble me up and take a breather near the back. I’ve given everything and been aggressive, now to let the sprinters do their thing. On the last lap I try and put myself amongst them but the race is spread all over the road and there’s nowhere through. There are going to be about 60 riders sprinting which might get mildly mental. I’ll roll in having learned a lot about how to get a result on this circuit.
As I’m putting the bike in the car I’m joined by Dave from the Chorley club. He’s one of about 2 people that I now kind of know in the bunch. He was in the main break of the day and then recovered to finish 8th. Another lad comes over and says well done to both of us for actually trying to race. A big proportion of the bunch were just happy to get towed around.
Later in the evening I’ve got a shoebox with a dead bird in it. Another avian portent of doom.
Actually it’s just because I’ve got a cat who is an absolute shit.