Another Saturday in Hell.
No that’s not fair.
Another Saturday of full on, brutal racing at the East London Velo Round 4!
This week the field was slightly bigger with 36 people starting although it felt like a lot more upon looking round at the start line. Luckily the rain held off, although the track was damp all round which made for slightly wary cornering.
Once again, it was a fast start right from the gun. Which I don’t really mind. It helps to break the pack up pretty quickly which means the riding tends to be slightly safer.
I wanted to improve on my positioning in the pack this week. Firstly to save energy, stopping me constantly chasing on and secondly, enabling me to be in better position in case of any attacks on the Hog.
After a few laps the field was very much still together until Benjamin Cross (RCC) attacked off the front of the pack half way up the Hog.
He got a pretty decent gap quickly and it took a full lap for the peloton to bring him back.
A few laps later it was my turn!
The field was rolling into The Hog fairly slowly with an Imperial Racer off the front, looking back for a someone to go with. Stupidly I decided to join him. So I made my move to catch him.
Just cresting over the Hog I had a gap on the field and the guy from Imperial on my wheel.
I was hurting at this point and breathing heavily coming down the other side. So I flicked my elbow for a bit of help. Thankfully he came through but I made a bit of a hash of the following corner and lost his wheel. Sprinting to catch on allowed a couple of riders to gain on me and just before the end of the lap it was all back together again.
Thankfully the next 4-5 laps settled down to a steady pace. I was conscious of positioning, trying to stay mid pack, just catching my breath on the wheels before the last few laps.
With 4 laps to go the rider from Imperial caught a wheel and suddenly came clattering to the ground right in front of me. I braked and swerved to left just missing his bike by what felt like millimetres. Luckily he didn’t seem to be to badly hurt as he was up and chatting to a steward on the next lap.
With 3 laps to go the pace really picked up. I was caught out at the back of the remaining 20 riders as the pack split in half.
7 or so riders went clear by 20 metres.
The gap didn’t really grow but it wasn’t getting any closer. I decided I needed to make the junction my self.
On the penultimate climb I attacked my group and clawed my way on the last wheel of the front pack. Luckily I didn’t bring anyone across with me. As I glanced back I saw that the group had really split up and dropped away. Leaving me in the front group with 7 other riders.
I was pretty happy at this point as I knew I would finish better than last week although my face was probably telling a different story.
I was still hurting half way round the last lap and was just clinging on for dear life. Just before we had headed up the Hog I looked to move up the group, ducking off the wheel in front I quickly realised I had nothing and decided to stay where I was, and leave it to the line.
We hit the bottom of The Hog.
This was it, time to lay it all out. Jumping out of the saddle I gave it everything I had, gained a few positions immediately at the bottom of the climb and kept to the inside of the corner. A rider moved across, sandwiching Ben and almost pushing me off the track.
I stayed strong and held my line, but Ben had to drop back putting me in 4th position! I heard him shouting behind me trying to get past. But I didn’t close and gaps. He came up fast next to me as we both went for the line. My lunge was pathetic, but Ben executed his like a seasoned track cyclist.
And that’s it, I had lost my 4th place. But what a race! If you lost a wheel than that was your day over.
It was a massive improvement on last week and has given me a lot of confidence going forward.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to make the next couple of race meets, but aim to come back stronger in a few weeks time.
So until then!
Also a big thanks to Matt Ben Stone for providing the images of the day. You can check out his work here along with more pictures from the day below.
Thanks for reading!