Recently back from training for three weeks on the Costa Blanca I was still pining for the sea. So this weekend just passed I decided to get away from North Oxfordshire to the coast. Conveniently my father lives on the coast of North West Wales... Inconveniently that's 200 miles away!
So Thursday evening I unpacked my bike after having not touched it since I'd packed it for flying home from Spain the pervious Saturday. I'd got some new bits for the bike too: it's a brand new bike anyway, but I put a new drivetrain on since I wanted it in full-on road racing mode (bigger front chainrings and a tighter cassette) All set to go straight after work on Friday evening. I spent so much time catching up with dad that I ran out of time to do any training on Saturday! I only had an hour of openers to do anyway so I wasn't overly stressed about it.
Sunday Funday and I went up to Marshtracks circuit in Rhyl for the handicap E/1/3/3/4/W. I saw my teammate Billy Leason which was a nice surprise for us both (Billy attends Bangor University so it's not often we see each other despite being very good friends) Signing onto the start sheet I saw several strong names which meant I was in for a difficult race... Just how I like it.
Jered & Billy training in Calpe
Warmed up and on the starting line wearing dead flash prototype skinsuit I'm developing for Shutt Velo Rapide which got quite a lot of attention due to the exotic panels on the garment. The first group of riders were set off and given most of a lap for their handicap advantage. As soon as we were set off the attacking was savage and relentless. I figured quite early on in the race that due to a) the handicap and b) the quality of the field present no attack was going to stick so I sat in the wheels and feigned a breakaway attempt now and then to keep everyone moving as we still had a lot of work to do to catch the handicap group.
I'd settled into a nice rhythm throughout the race and just keeping my eyes out for those I reckoned were going to get dropped so as not to get caught behind them when they popped and then give myself unnecessary work to do to catch back onto the bunch.
3 laps to go and the handicap group was still away! About 10 from the main group made the leap over in small groups of 3's and 4's. I grit my teeth and solo'd over to the now composite leading group. 1 lap to go the familiar sound of the bell chimed and 5 were away. I still had a big gap to close if I stood any chance of getting in the top 10. Leaving just enough in my legs for a decent sprint, I rounded the last corner catching the second group timing it well for a 10 rider sprint for 6th place.
Everyone was remaking on how hard the race was, and although I didn't want to say out of politeness, I didn't find it that taxing. Which was incredibly reassuring!
Three things I think are the reason: well rested after a brilliant training camp - aero'ed up to the 9's with the prototype skinsuit, aero road helmet, aero socks and a very aero bike - and feeling really motivated to race hard by family coming to watch me race. 3rd race into 2018 and on 10/200 of my points target so far. Gonna need to start getting some decent results if I'm going to get my 1st cat licence this year!
- Jered Allcock