The racing has begun!
Round 3 of the ELV Winter Series at Redbridge Cycling Centre was the first outing for TheDomestiqueCC as a race club, but also for myself as a racer.
I used the ride from Ilford Station to Redbridge as a part of my warm up, and was growing increasingly nervous as I got closer to the start line. Not only because I didn’t know what to expect but also because of the amount of ice on the pavements. Thankfully the track is on top of a hill and is open to sunlight all day round which made out for perfect conditions to race. Be it a little cold.
After pinning on my number I headed out to the track for a couple of laps just to keep warm before I heard the sound of the whistle in which we all lined up.
The field of 35 riders lined up across the start line and I felt the nervous tension in the air and just like that, we were off.
It was a fast start with a group of 4-5 riders going clear by 50 meters almost immediately.
After 2 laps sitting in the pack watching the front group slowly gain a few more meters on us. I decided to try and close the gap myself. I attacked on the right hand side of the road just before the infamous Hog Hill and managed to close the gap just over the start/finish line. After this I was hurting a fair bit and clinging on to the group and was soon to realize my attempts had been in vain as the pack closed in within the lap anyway!
Maybe I was a bit nervous in my first race and didn’t want to not be in with a chance within a lap of the race beginning. But this is something I will certainly remember in my next outing. RELAX!
Once the field was back together the race settled down.
It was a fairly high speed throughout the race averaging 36 kph. Which when ascending Hog Hill 10 or so times, can hurt!!
With 5 laps to go the speed dropped a fair bit and I thought why not test the legs and lead the pack up the Hog. And so I went again. Half way up I looked behind me and so the group of 20 or so riders on my tail, I wasn’t pushing to hard as I wanted to make to over the line, but I certainly felt a bit of a buzz upon leading out a group of riders.
Upon cresting the climb the field once again swarmed around me and I fell back to my more familiar position at the back of the peloton catching my breath.
In the final 2 laps of the race the speed picked up a fair bit. Which dulled any chances of anyone attacking. At this point I was only clinging on.
With a lap to go the I was still there! Sitting in the mix towards the rear of the peleton. We sped out of the final corner towards our final ascent of the Hog. The speed was really high at this point.
I was right at the back of the group and as soon as the road started to ramped up, I got out of the saddle and gave it everything I had left. And was surprised with my output! I went past quite a few guys on the climb and crossed the line in 12th.
For a first outing I was fairly happy with my performance. I mananged to stay in the front group and even lead them up the climb. But I certainly learnt a lot! First of all to relax a bit at the beginning of the race.
And secondly, positioning is everything!
I think If I had asserted myself in the group better and been towards the front of the group coming into the last climb I could have broke into the top 10. But hey ho, its all part of learning the ropes and is certainly a reason to race next weekend!
Massive thanks to ELV CC for putting on a great race. Look forward to seeing you next time!