I’m not sure how many cups count as “too many” in the UCI’s books but I can confirm that drinking one eight-cup cafetiere in two large mugs is definitely more than is sensible first thing on a Saturday morning before a race. Nor is staying out until gone 1am the night before and cycling across Central London on tired legs to get home.
I haven’t raced for a few weeks now and haven’t really done much proper training since the Etape but three days in the Massif Central should have put a bit of edge back on my form and spring in my pedal stroke. Last week however my legs just felt heavy and stiff, no matter whether I stretched or not.
This morning I felt a little dopey and a little rattly when I woke up but thought it would clear. My legs felt relatively fresh but my head was rather foggy, hence the overdose of coffee. By the time I got to trying to pin my numbers on my jersey I was shaking and buzzing like the old days of coke, speed and booze all-nighters. I could barely pin them on and get out of the door and the sensation was still there by the time I got out to Hillingdon.
Race-wise it was a smallish field and I thought I could probably get a top ten finish. Did my usual job of chasing down a couple of hopeful breaks early on and contemplating getting away but the legs weren’t interested and my head timed it all wrong. I subscribe to the tactic of showing that you can chase the breaks early on but maybe this is the wrong one as it shows my hand. Maybe I need to sit in and not be the first to go after it. That’s something I need to concentrate on if I’m going to improve next season.
Then started chasing down another break and felt the heart rate hitting the red line and drifted right back down the line as others came through. This happens to me a bit too often and comes on incredibly quickly. Dangled at the back and managed to cling on before working my way back up in the later stages. Was looking for Sam, one of the youths who’s been kicking our arses all season, to make a move but it never happened.
It got a bit scrappy as we couldn’t get disentangled from the second group on the road in the E123s. That was largely because a couple of riders refused to sit up and let the group go before we got down to racing. So the sprint looked likely to be very bunchy. I came off the last bend too far back to be in contention having decided that I didn’t fancy mixing it and didn’t have the legs. Then I realised I seemed to be coming through people quicker than I had thought and was moving up towards the points so clicked up and decided to hammer it a bit.
Pipped James to the line but we were both well outside the points. I’m pretty sure I’m the only 4th Cat who has been riding almost every race in the series without scoring a point. One more race in the series next weekend, which means one final attempt at getting a point. Just the one will do.