I thought my season was over with October rolling in all too quickly until I spotted a Facebook post from local coaching outfit ‘Brivelo’. They have organised a ‘point grabbing‘ series at the MK Bowl which is a course suits me pretty well! I came into this season late due to myself and my partner buying our first house. It's been a good season too with a win (here at the Bowl) and a 10th place in Abingdon in a cat 2/3/4 race.
The only slight down side is that we have a race team get together at Jool the night before! At this point I am torn, do I enjoy myself and commit to my off season, giving up on my plan of achieving my 2nd cat license? Or do I persist with the racing and keep trying to win my promotion…
I need 29 points, which is a lot considering only 10 are available – one vote for beer
There is 5 races in the series, I need to average 5.8 per race – one vote for racing
I am working a lot of weekends in the next few weeks… – one vote for beer
Chloe can be dragged away from work to spectate – one vote for racing
I really do not like to quit, admitting defeat is poison! – one vote for racing
I decide to drive to the curry, I am in with both feet! I WILL smash this race up.
At the meal a couple of team-mates also decide to race and I start to get excited. Visions of Shutt Velo whitewashes fill my head… GLORY!!!
Unfortunately Luke is committing to his off season in full blooded fashion… It seems unlikely that he’ll race…
Morning arrives and sure enough… Luke – “Not racing, I’d be too wonky!”
We still get a small team together though and I sign on in good spirits with my lucky charm (my partner Chloe) in tow.
Each of us has a goal for today. For Kieran (Shutt Velo Rapide) it is 5 points for promotion to 3rd cat, Matt (Banbury Star) is looking for his first points ever and I want the win to make my promotion a reality again. It looks good as just 12 riders take to the start. I have never been in a race so small and I have no idea what to expect but I only need to finish in front of 2 riders to score points so it should be good!
We set off at a gentle pace and it becomes clear that a bunch sprint is likely. Only half hearted attacks are put in by 2 or 3 riders and the race is easy for the first 10 mins. So much so that I decide to spice it up myself!
My aim here is simply to make the race a little harder to take the power out of my opponents sprints without simply towing them around! I decide to make 3 attacks on consecutive laps to push my opponents into the red…
We ease round onto the upward slope and I look around quickly to see where my team mates Kieran and Matt are. They are secure in the bunch so I kick off attack 1.
I get around 15m up and looking round I see the 2 strongest riders in the race on the front chasing me. I am caught at the bottom of the subsequent hill and I intentionally drop into the middle of the pack.
As soon as the up hill comes again I do the same, this time getting 25m in front. The same 2 chase me down, this time I am caught roughly half way down the straight before the turn up the hill again.
I stick to my plan and attack a third time. By now I’m pretty deep so I don’t bother looking behind me. Its my last dig anyway so it doesn’t matter where they are!
I hit the straight and get my head down determined to make the catch as hard as I can. I get to the turn and I can’t hear them behind me, I look behind… I have a 15s lead (approx) and nobody is chasing!! I am in a solo breakaway! WHAT?!
This brand new territory for me but with Chloe in attendance I can’t help but try and make it stick! I settle into my rhythm an try to hold the gap. A few laps in and I am remembering why I don’t do breakaways! I call to Chloe on my way past and ask for the gap between me and the chasers. She starts to shout it as I ride past… 13s… *suffer* *pain* … 15s… *whine* *hurt* … 23s … *anguish* *nausea*…
“is it worth me carrying on?” I plead with her… I hear the answer I wanted…
I sit up and ease the pressure…
“What are you doing?!” she cries!! Turns out she’d said “yes!”
Head down and I’m back to suffering!
Behind me (I’m told) the race is in disarray with nobody wanting to chase and only breakaway efforts going in.
My lead grows to 30s.
Then the same 2 riders that chased me before then make a pact and commit to the chase.
My lead starts to fall and at 8s I decide to rest up and try to win the sprint. I have spent around 20mins in a solo break so my legs are aching with the effort.
As I am caught my opponents make a huge mistake. They sit up and start to ride round nice and easy. I cannot believe my luck as I feel my heart rate slow. My legs go from full ache to dull ache and I know after just 3 or 4 laps back in the bunch that I can win this sprint.
3 to go… Still easy but someone is going to attack last minute, they always do.
2 to go… Pace is steady and I am waiting for that last attack…
We head up the hill towards the line to start the last lap and it all kicks off! One of the 2 strong lads chasing me has attacked. I can’t follow immediately so I sit on the other strong rider as he begins to chase. I am in 4th as we catch our quarry and we all start to look at each other and nerves jangle for the sprint.
The rider that attacked up he hill last time round kicks off the sprint. I am on the wheel of a rider from TMK as he moves to the outside of the track. I go to the outside of him and kick hard. I give it everything and move past him into 3rd.
I glance left and hold the power on. The next 2 are side by side. These 2 are both strong. These 2 also chased me down…
I grit my teeth and kick again, emptying the tank… I have them! I am in the lead!
With nothing left I hit my saddle I have to stop pedalling and I’m 10m short of the line!
Luckily I have momentum on my side and I roll over the line to take the win!
Just 19 points to go to my 2nd cat licence and 4 races (if I can get off work!)