Crystal Palace Tuesday night races, my first experience

SPRINT! DAMN YOU! CORNER, DON’T TAKE ANYONE OUT! SPRINT! CORNER! BRAKE… NO DON’T BRAKE! PEDAL HARDER! HILL!!!!! PEDAL HARDER! *SPORZA COMMENTARY VOICE* “OY-OY-OY-OY-OY!” BREATH DAMN YOU LUNGS. (REPEAT X25)

And that’s pretty much how it goes for roughly an hour. Fun, yes? HELL YEAH!

Hillingdon, you go for the tea and cake and pottering round trying not to get knocked off on an entirely innocuous circuit where you don’t need to brake if you’re riding it properly and there’s only one corner of any difficulty.

You hope to get lucky in a bunch gallop and probably spend most of the race waiting for the three laps to go board. It’s all good stuff and if you attack enough it amounts to a decent workout. It’s a bit like waiting for Bon Jovi to play Livin’ On A Prayer.

Crystal Palace on the other hand is like AC/DC: deafeningly loud, relentless hit after hit. No sneaking off to the back for a rest because if they’re not playing Thunderstruck, it’s all Dirty Deeds Done Cheap, Back In Black, you name it.

Let’s take a trip round the lap…

180 degree left-hand hairpin round tree with metal post exactly where you’ll end up if you don’t get round.

Sprint out of that and up to a sharp downhill right hander running away down the hill and about the only place you can get any recovery.



Touch of brake then blind, flat out 90 degree left hand round a bush with tree and grass bank to fall down if you get it wrong.

The hill doesn’t look much but when you ride round it before the race. Then you hurtle through the left-hand corner at race pace on the first lap and every part of your body laughs in your face at the folly. Big ring, little ring, it all hurts like hell and it’s a fight to get on top of the right gear.

Recover across the top section while trying not to let a gap go and then it starts again.

I think I lasted all of three laps before I got shelled out the main bunch and joined a small grupetto that enjoyed its own race within a race up until they pulled out the lapped riders. I think I got lapped at least twice, maybe three times.

I say “I think” because frankly I was a dribbling mess just trying to keep going. And the worst thing is I know I’ll be back, work permitting, to take another beating. Damn you Stu for persuading me this is a good idea.

It works out quite well as the ride there and back plus race works out at around a 3 hour ride. Perfect midweek stuff really.

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