After being spurred on by Josh’s performance at Redbridge a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to pop my racing cherry. I’d read that Hillingdon was a straightforward, fast and flat circuit so I felt that would suit me.
The conditions were sunny but windy, although I didn’t notice just how windy it was until I did a couple of laps of the circuit. I made a mental note of where the wind was at its worst and took a decision to stay as sheltered as possible.
The circuit, as expected, wasn’t too technical – just a hairpin, a short, punchy lump to climb and a couple of spots where it looked like it could get congested. As I’d read somewhere, it was easy to pedal through the corners and provided I kept my wits about me, I felt confident that I would be alright.
After the briefing, we rolled out and the first couple of laps felt easy as the bunch stayed together. I found myself on the wheel of a London Dynamo rider and took the decision to stay on his wheel and shelter for a few laps.
This was my first experience of riding in such a big group, completely different to our regular club rides or the sportives that I’ve done, so I was pleasantly surprised to be freewheeling at 40kmh plus speeds and was still feeling good 10-15 minutes in.
It must have been around this time that Josh formed a 2 man breakaway and started to build some distance from the peloton. I did my best to move up a few places, conscious of the fact that the pace was likely increase and I didn’t want to get dropped so early into the race.
Around 25 minutes in, I found myself starting to drift back as I lost the wheel in front and now the wind felt really strong.
A rider from Gregarios had also been distanced so I glued myself to his wheel, hoping that I could shelter and get back on but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen so I dropped him and gave chase. When I looked around again, he was gone and I later discovered that he’d abandoned.
I must have chased for around 3 laps, but the gap grew and I knew that I was done for when Josh and his breakaway companion lapped me, with the pack following moments later.
I took the decision to bow out at this point and sat at the finish line to cheer on Josh. I was pleased to have made it through 35 minutes, much better than I had anticipated.
Josh’s breakaway was eventually reeled in, a strong performance, and he sat in the pack for the remaining laps, finishing in 20th position.
All in all, I loved the experience from start to finish. Having heard a few stories, I’m pleased that it wasn’t the crashfest that I had expected it to be (with the exception of one crash in the last few laps) and I can’t wait to do it all again.
TDCC will be back at Hillingdon this coming Saturday for the final race in this series. Bring it on!
Thanks to West Drayton for putting on a great race and to all the volunteer’s on the day.