Yes, I did a road race!
It's also been quite a while since I've done a road race, I'm guessing about August last year. I didn't do much in 2011, the racing was starting to get me down with a lot of negative riding within the races. I was almost tempted to give road a complete miss this year, but the West Midlands Championships tempted me back!
I've previously had mixed fortunes in the "Divs", usually going like a steam-train early on and putting myself promptly in a box - resulting in two DNFs in the past. Last years event I went into the race with no expectations or target as I'd had a week off with a cold, then somehow managed to take 6th.
Today's race was on the same Bridgnorth circuit as 2011, a course I've ridden many times before. I'm not sure there's much flat in the course and it's definitely a leg sapper. As typical, 5x 17mile laps would be covered, with a total distance of 86miles.
I'd not given myself any aim for the day, as I wasn't sure I could even handle the distance - the longest I've raced this year is 39miles!
The race started off fairly steady, I just kept my eye out for any danger moved and stayed tucked in for a while. After around half a lap, Andy Tennant kicked, with Liam Holohan and a few other dangerous men, we quickly clipped away with a 10-man group. Riding for two laps, fairly steady through and off, the bunch behind started yo-yoing and then clawing us back. Yet there was no impetus for the break to stamp on the gas, we just sat there and got caught.
At this point seeing how well some of the riders were riding (not good that is, 3rd cat pointless attacks coming through!), I thought I'd best get up the road sometime. Kieran Frend had already clipped up the road on his own, with a small group trying to cross to him. Round the top end of the circuit the bunch had almost pulled Ki back, I took this opportunity to ride across to him, bringing one RST rider with me.
The three of us worked hard into the headwind towards Sutton Maddock, turning back with the tailwind, we lost the RST rider, and the two of us just put our heads down.
This would be the quickest lap of the race, yet we weren't getting any time gaps, we had to commit to a final lap together of pain. With Kieran shouting at me every few minutes "drop a gear, push harder!", we put ourselves deep into the hurt locker on the final lap, thinking the bunch would be upon us any second.
As the road flattened out, I started to pull him back and checking over my shoulder to see if I was about to get caught. Kieran however had a clear gap on me, taking the West Midland Champs for the 2nd time. I had to settle for 2nd - definitely not a result I expected at the start line!
I didn't expect either that the two of us would put 4minutes into the chasing group in 25 miles - we'd pushed near on 26mph for two laps!