Last time I wrote a race report I was just a normal cyclist. Now I’ve got a sponsor who supplies my wheels so I’m like a total pro now. Despite being a pro I’m not actually getting paid, I still have to drive to races in my wife’s Fiat Seicento, and no one is talking about me as being in the running for the BBC Sport’s Personality Of The Year Award. The wages and awards will probably start rolling in once everyone stops doing the Olympics I guess. Just need to find out who I make my invoices out to.
Last time I raced was at the Bole Hill Road Race and I did it on the back of a hard month, and a week of riding in the Alps. In contrast my preparation for this race has been absolutely perfect. When I say perfect, the night before the race was my birthday, the night before I went out for a meal with my wife and the ensuing food poisoning meant that I got a lot more presents than I was hoping for. Presents coming out of both ends. My preparation is almost as bad as my husbanding skills when you consider I left my ill wife alone all day while I was smashing it around the roads of Leicestershire. I’m a catch.
I’m not even guaranteed a start in this one. I was seventh reserve when the road book was sent out but I’m turning up anyways. Even if I don’t get a ride at least it’s got me out of the house for 4 hours. Did I mention I was a catch?
Today’s race is Dringy’s Road Race taking place around Edmonthorpe in Leicestershire. It’s my first race in the East Midlands Road Race League and I’m looking forward to being in a bunch that yells ‘CAR!’ with the correct pronunciation. I’m from the East Midlands so this is almost home roads for me. Perhaps the bunch will let me go off the front so I can soak up the adoration of my people. Being a pro has totally gone to my head.
I do get a place in the race but I’ve had to hang around until sign on is closed which means I’ve not had a chance to do a warm up. All I’ve been doing is stroking a very nice cat that is hanging around in the church hall. If I win the race then I’m going to make him my Director Sportif. I’ve turned pro and I’ve got a cat as a potential DS, what a week.
So far this season I’ve raced all over the South East, in a few bits of Yorkshire, a couple of bits of Merseyside, and now the East Midlands. I’m developing such an extensive knowledge of the cycling jerseys of the British Isles that I reckon it could be my specialist skill if I was going on You Bet. Matthew Kelly would ask me what I was gonna do and I’d say “name 100 cycling clubs through just the colours of their jerseys.” The panel of Keith Chegwin, Lawrie McMenemy and Annabel Croft would all wager £50 that I’d nail the challenge. They’d be smiling as I delivered and made a truck-load for their charities. Incidentally that was the panel for Season 3 Episode 2 broadcast on 24th February 1990. If this race report is rubbish it’s because I’ve got Wikipedia open in a separate window and I’m doing loads of reading about You Bet. It was based around the format of the German show Wetten, dass..?
The race kicks off and goes mental. Immediately. It’s a strong field with most of the riders being 2nd cat, and most of them riding for teams rather than clubs. There’s a youth rider from JLT Condor, a good number from PB Performance, a lad from Giant Wattbike, one from Planet X, and a few other teams I don’t recognize. Maybe I’ll hold off on going on You Bet. Like I said the race goes mental from the start. It’s a rolling course and it’s as windy as a hurricane driving a soft top car with the roof down. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but I’m rocking deeper sections than I’ve ever raced with and I’m noticing the difference in the cross winds. Once I’ve mastered that, and the different braking sensations I realize what I’ve been missing out on in not racing on carbon wheels. Insert obvious product placement for my new sponsor here. In all seriousness, Mike builds an ace set of wheels and I was using him as a customer before he agreed to sponsor me. If you get in touch with him, tell him I sent you and he’ll do you a solid discount.
I went a bit off topic there, but the race is still going mental. Attacks are going from the off and at one point it looks like there are 3 groups on the road, and each of them is thinking about forming an echelon. They’d probably have formed them too if it didn’t involve having to be on the wrong side of the road. Over the finish line after the second lap and we’re all still together. The cross wind is pushing us all out to the right hand side of the road and the commissaire is losing his mind. He might either disqualify all of us or try and cast a spell that stops the wind. I’m not sure he knows one. If only he’d watched Knightmare. Spellcasting W I N D F U C K O F F. I think that one works.
On the third lap and I notice that we’ve left Leicestershire and are now in Rutland. Rutland was Britain’s smallest county and then it wasn’t a county but I think it might be a county again now. Maybe you should google it as nothing much more is going to happen on this lap.
On the fourth lap of 6 and I have a move planned. There’s a short but sharp hill a few KMs out from the finish line, the only one on the course really. It’s not sharp enough to attack on, but it’ll sap the legs enough that an attack immediately after might work. I prepare brilliantly by trying to go with some other moves in the run up to the hill and absolutely knacker myself out. Onto the hill and I’m accidentally on the front. Luckily for me a couple of riders take over and string the bunch out. Perfect. Over the top and I put in a big dig and go clear. A rider from Beeston joins me. They’ve got a really strong team so I’m hopeful that we’re onto something with this move. A few other riders think the same thing and start trying to get across. Before you know it pretty much the whole bunch wants in and we’re shut down. I’ve got 2 more chances to try the same move.
Into the headwind section and I’m right up at the sharp end of the bunch. Attacks are splitting the bunch but no one has enough to keep the pressure on and everything keeps coming back together. I’m not sure whether to contribute on the front or not. Sadly my cat DS isn’t answering my calls over the radio and so I’ve got no advice to go on.
Over the hill and I’m once again all alone. This time I’ve got an enormous gap and it’s going out all the time. Sadly it’s going out in the wrong direction and I’m behind the bunch. A few KMs out I dropped my chain when I hit a bump so there was no other choice but to stop and put it back on. By the time I’m up and running I’ve lost about 20 to 30 seconds. A rider from PB Performance has had a mechanical at a similar moment and so we chase together. The wind shreds us to pieces and after getting a time check over the finish line we know it’s all over. I roll back in to HQ where my DS is waiting for me. He doesn’t say anything about the race but just curls up on my lap for a bit. I don’t question his methods.
About 10 miles down the motorway I realize that the fly in the back of my car is actually a wasp and I realize that this is how I die. I cheat death by pulling over outside an American Diner and letting it out. I think that’s how one of the Final Destination movies started.
Thanks again to 23mm.co.uk for sponsoring me.