I was up all last night. I was stood in front of a giant blackboard writing endless lines of a complex equation. I’d get close to the end, realise that I’d made a mistake, and then have to rub it all out and start again. By the time the sun was rising I had created Whalley’s Law.
Whalley’s Law is a way of deriving a riders actual finishing position from their perceived finishing position.
For example, a rider believing his or her self to have finished first is very likely to have finished first. However the further down the positions we go, the figures of actual position and perceived position start to vary exponentially. For example any rider estimating that they finished 10th undoubtedly finished 11th. A rider estimating that they finished 15th is likely to have finished 18th, and a rider posting on Strava that they finished around 20th, was definitely around 30th.
If someone could demonstrate how to represent that as a formula then I’ll cut you in on a share of the profits. Hit me up on the contact form
By the end of this race report I am going to show Whalley’s Law in action.
Today is The Team Chronomaster Road Race. It’s my first race with my brand new 2nd cat licence. Rather arrogantly I’ve signed it with a gold sharpie but that is because the black one ran out during my latest house move, after I’d written the word “books” on about the the 40th box. Even more arrogantly I’ve just claimed to own 40 boxes worth of books. Actually it’s about 5 and and most of them are full of those fantasy novels with a fictional map on the first page. It’s only cycling that is stopping me from doing Live Action Role Play on a Sunday.
I got my 2nd cat licence a couple of weeks ago. After winning a race it was my main target of the season and since hitting it I’ve completely switched off which is why my alarm going off at 5am is a complete shock to my system. I think I’ve earned the right to stop in on Sundays eating my body weight in chocolate raisins, but apparently there are still races that need doing.
The HQ for today’s race is in what I think is a dance studio. It’s hard to tell whether the lads behind the desk want me to sign on or to audition for Flash Dance. I haven’t bought my music with me so I just sign my name on the paper and pick up my numbers. It turns out to be the right choice.
My teammate Phil has chanced an entry on the line for this one and he’ll have to wait until 20 past 9 to find out if he’s in. He comes back from the HQ whilst I’m warming up on the Turbo. I do a proper pro move and look back between my legs to see what’s behind me. I can see Phil but he’s not got any numbers. It looks like he’ll be on bottle duty. I’m sad for him but last time I raced on this circuit my bottle fell out on the neutral section thanks to the mad pot holes they have around here. It could be handy to have someone to make sure I stay hydrated. In the cycling equivalent to when your granddad does that trick where he pretends to pull his thumb off, Phil’s stashed his numbers in his pocket and is only pretending that he hasn’t got a race. I better make sure my bottles are fully secured.
Our other teammate Joe needs to finish first or second today to ensure he gets his 1st cat licence. With no personal goals to aim for, it means I’m riding fully in his service. It means I’ll be chasing down moves for as long as I can, and it also means that I might be able to jack the race about halfway, once I’ve used up all my matches. I could be back in the van by 1130. Lovely stuff.
It turns out that I take my duties as a domestique very seriously. On the first lap I hit the front to help chase down a few of the early moves. I’m just finished closing the latest one down when another goes and I remember that I’m perhaps not quite the rouleur required for this job. I drop a few places to recover and I’ll put the pace on next time we hit the climb.
Next time up the big climb I do exactly as I’d planned and up the pace in order to bring the break back. I catch three riders and then ask someone else to come through and do a turn. “Keep the pace up and we can bring them all back” I shout. I’m informed that we’ve already brought them all back but I spend the next half lap refusing to believe it and trying to inject some pace up the front. It’s one of those courses where you can quickly get out of sight, which the lead car seems to be very keen on doing, further fuelling my paranoia that there are some sneaky riders just beyond it. Everyone I ask says the race is all back together but they would say that wouldn’t they? Trust no one. It’s why I line my helmet with tinfoil to keep the FBI from listening to my thoughts.
At the end of the race, during the presentation, the organiser will say to the crowd “I don’t know what happened after the second lap but we lost a lot of riders.” I can now exclusively reveal what happened.
During our 5 minute pre-race meeting at the side of a pay and display car park, Joe had said that he wanted no dangerous moves to go away without him and that he wanted it to be a hard race. The first part of the plan was going well so I decided it was time to instigate the second part. As we hit the long climb I get on the front and ride it as hard as I can. I want it to be clear that I’m not trying for a break, so I make sure to keep the pace up without opening any real gaps at the front. Towards the top I’m absolutely hanging and a few riders sense a chance to attack over the crest. I’m able to stay in touch but my pace setting seems to be contagious and by the time we hit the next climb there are probably only 25 riders left. The only thing that even comes this close to doing the damage that this lap has done is the tractor that only just finishes crossing the tiny bridge as the lead group approaches it.
Onto lap 4 of 5 and I’ve got barely anything left but there are only around 16 of us left so rather than do one more big effort and go out the back, I decide to do what I can for Joe and pick up whatever points are left after the big boys have picked up theres.
I do another turn up the main climb. I’m riding steadily but a gap opens up. A rider joins me in the hope that we can get away. I happily sit on his wheel and refuse to come through. The more riders I can get to make wasted efforts like this, the better for Joe at the finish.
The rest of the last lap is me hanging on to the group for dear life. Whenever Joe’s on my wheel I want to warn him that it’s a dangerous place to be as I’m liable to lose the wheel in front. Instead I just bury myself even more.
By the finish there are only 14 or so of us left. The sprint happens in front of me and I can’t even risk getting out of the saddle as I know that cramp isn’t far off. Joe gets 4th which is a great result and leaves him only 6 points off his 1st cat. I think I finish in 10th but after applying Whalley’s Law that means I’m definitely 11th.
On the way back Phil stops at my house to price up replacing my boiler. I could really have done with some of that top 6 prize money at this rate.
Thanks to Team Chronomaster for putting on an ace race on probably the most fun circuit there is. Always a pleasure to race on it even if I’m yet to find the right line through the potholed section.
Also thanks to Ellen Isherwood for the brilliant photography, at some point I should actually work out what you look like and say thank you in person.
Finally thanks to 23mm for supplying my wheels. This has been my best season by far and they’ve definitely played a part in it. Hit Mike up if you fancy a new set, tell him I sent you.