Imperial Winter Series 2009/10: 4th Cat, 30 January 2010

When the sun comes out Hillingdon is always busy and everyone seems to wheel out their sunny day bikes (expensive carbon frame, top-end groupset, deep section wheels). Either that or we’re getting towards the end of the series and the beginning of Spring.

20100130 Imperial Winter 207

(Photo by British Cycling on Flickr)

So the 4ths set off with a big field. That usually this guarantees a bunch sprint and a slightly twitchy atmosphere as everyone sits in and saves themself for the final three laps.

I’ve been on antibiotics all week which has somewhat limited my training. Sadly I can only use that as a stand-in for “not having done anything about improving my fitness” temporarily.

But I did get in one attack which was nearly the death of me. Cold air is heavy air and hitting the front hurt like standing on a plug: avoidable and stupid, as well as darned painful.

The only regular variable in the 4th Cat race is how much effort people put in before the cavalry charge. This weekend there was plenty so the race clipped along at a fast but not brutal pace with little attacks getting away now and again until a dangerous one looked like sticking late on as legs tired.

Tired legs usually means tired minds and that always heightens the risk of a crash in a finale. Or as Lance Woodman puts it



“The trouble often happens late when tiredness impairs judgment and ambition outstrips common sense (‘I can win from the middle of the bunch’).”

(Lance is currently sporting a magnificent beard which meant he was all but invisible to me in the bunch. Funny how you learn to recognise your fellow riders solely on the basis of the lower half of their face as you can see it out the corner of your eye.)

Sure enough with one lap to go there was a touch of wheels and a scattering of the pack as several riders went down hard. One chap was wheeled off to hospital with a suspected collarbone fracture. Speedy recoveries all round I hope.

As ever, I was behind the crash but managed to get round it unscathed. My teammate Rich was just ahead of it and had his back wheel clipped but not by enough to bring him down or stop him storming to 5th.

Richard Gearing’s perspective on finishing in the points

And there’s usually someone who gets a puncture. This week it was the Cycling Silk, Martin Porter:

Martin Porter gets a puncture but still finishes well

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