You know how in some films they show you the ending right at the start and then the rest of the film shows how they ended up there? They’re the same ones that then stick an extra bit after the ending that you saw at the start. Well this Race Report is going to follow that same format as one of the most interesting things that happened at the race was the bit right at the end where I ended up posing for this photo with a small horse.
What happens now is that you’re so intrigued by how this scenario came to be that it compels you to read on, or at the very least just quickly scroll through the page and read the last sentence. Some of you will also be thinking of the world’s greatest small horse, Little Sebastian so you’ll probably want to listen to this song before you do anything else.
In the film of this race report we now cut to what is clearly an earlier scene. It’s made even more clear by some text that appears on the screen saying Sunday 7am. The scene is me having my third shit of the morning and wondering whether it’s the result of nerves, sickness, or the ham bagel I had in Glasgow the day before. If it’s nerves then I'm nervous because this is the first proper race of my season as I'm not counting the one at Pimbo where the weather robbed me of any chance of a result and then robbed my extremities of any chance of having any feeling in them for about an hour. If it’s the bagel then it’s all the more reason not to be in Glasgow the day before a race in Yorkshire, and you live in Derbyshire.
Today’s race is the Seacroft RR and it’s a 3/4 in glorious weather on a pan flat course in North Yorkshire. A nice way to kick start the season but a race that’ll almost definitely end in a bunch sprint and a photo of a small horse.
I’ve got my wife with me today and she’s marvelling at how pretty it is around here. The last two races she's come to have both been on industrial estates in weather conditions lifted directly out of the most northern bits of Game Of Thrones. Today is doing its bit to convince her that I might not be entirely out of mind for doing this sport. I’ve even got my legs out.
As we get to the course my wife realises that this is where her mum grew up and it’s where her Grandparents are buried. She spends the first 5 laps visiting their graves and having a little cry. The weather might be beautiful but I’ve found another way to make coming to a bike race traumatic for her. Remember that later on she will get to meet a small horse, though.
My first challenge of the race is not getting disqualified for not wearing the right clothing. I haven’t turned up with my body painted in the colours of Buxton CC as I threatened to do but I am wearing my previous team’s kit. The reasons for still appearing to represent CC London are only partially sartorial, the main reason is my Buxton CC kit hasn’t been delivered yet. I let the commissaire know about this as we’re stood next to each other at the urinals. He’s fine with it but that might just because he’d rather we both just focus on the job at hand.
Today’s race is short. Short and flat. Short and flat and without any wind. If I’m to avoid the risk of being involved in a messy bunch sprint then it’s going to take some serious commitment and several other riders who want the same thing. During the course of the race I must attack getting close to 10 times before it comes down to that inevitable bunch sprint. There was the early solo attack where I sat up and waited for another rider to come across only to be shut down by the bunch. There was the one where I bridged over to a strong looking group only for them to have had enough of trying. There was also the one where the group worked just hard enough to bring me back before sitting up. Actually that was all of them. If I’d had teammates they’d have had some great opportunities to counter attack and really break up the race. Unfortunately I don’t. Fortunately no one else really takes full advantage.
I’m pleased this race is short. The course is only around 8km so it’d get very dull doing another hour and half of this before the inevitable bunch sprint. Luckily the shortness of the course has given me a good chance to know where I need to be in the finale, also my wife has shown up roadside so I’ve at least got the distraction of making myself look good in her photos to keep me busy.
Where I need to be is in the top 5 as we hit the final 90 degree left hander with about 400m to go. To be there I need to be in the top 10 as we hit the S-bend that leads to the corner. I do both.
Before the final left hander there’s the sound of what might be a crash behind. I look back and most of the riders seemed to have survived it. If I knew who any of the riders in this race were then I might be able to work out if it’s taken out any of the strong sprinters. I’d also know whose wheel to follow in the run to the line. I know nothing.
Around the final bend and the race lights up. I feel strong despite this being about my fifteenth sprint of the race, if you include all those attempted escapes. I start to come around the riders in front and I think I might be about to win this. Just as I think that I pass the marker where I had planned to open mysprint rather than the finish line. I've gone very early. Only thing to do is keep going and hope to hang on. At this point my rear wheel leaves the ground. When it lands it feels like it might now be an oval shape as it seems keen on leaving the ground at evenly spaced intervals. I’m forced to sit back in the saddle and cross the line in 9th place. Further back down the finishing straight a rider is picking himself off the floor after hitting my back wheel and robbing me of the chance of a better result and one of his arms of the skin it once had. Luckily he’s fine. I piece all of this together from the riders who saw it happen as I ride back to HQ with a rear wheel that feels circular again.
After the race my wife and I met a small horse…..and we both had flapjacks.
Thanks again to my wheel sponsor 23mm.co.uk who make my hoops and help me to go fast. You should check them out.