You know you’ve been to the races and gone hard. Either that or you’ve crashed and are contemplating how much of your mush you’ve left on the road. Fortunately for me the taste of blood was down to the former at the weekend.
My first run at the Imperial Winter Series, in the familiar surroundings of Hillingdon, ended up being as much about getting my race legs on again and surviving the bitter cold rather than storming to the points. Which is not an unsurprising outcome given that the last time I rode in anger was three weeks ago in a ‘cross race. Of course, it’s far too easy to forget these things when the fire is lit in the heart, for racing.
On the plus side I did manage to bridge across to one of the early breaks comfortably, dragging another rider with me and when he came through I managed to go with his wheel. It wasn’t at this point that I started to taste blood, it was when the group came back together and the pace became erratic. I got caught out in the wind for far too long trying to move up the bunch, something I try to avoid but which becomes unavoidable in a nervy big bunch, such as is usual in 4th Cat races.
So having fried myself a bit I was reduced to sitting in a bit and making sure I didn’t get dropped. There were a couple of times when I found myself too far back and at the end of the elastic but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my first season, it’s that when you are hurting and wanting to pack you can always dig that bit deeper and hang on. Never pack unless you are seriously injured or your bike is no longer roadworthy.
As ever I managed to miss the decisive break so tried to psyche myself up for the inevitable bunch sprint for the remaining points. Once again, I went too early and too hard from too far back and found myself going backwards in the last 100 metres. I really must conquer my fear of the sprint and position myself better on the last three laps. Or even position myself to go with the break when it happens. And remember to drink and keep myself in good shape rather than being unduly concerned by erratic riding around me.
Saturday’s race was also a first in that it was the first time anyone has come to watch me race. I managed not to fall off as I had promised and I managed to impress just by competing. Sounds good to me.