Rode the first race last night. Here's a race report I wrote up for the club. Great fun, but I'm suffering now! I hope it gives a flavour. Next race is in two weeks time. Say hello if you enter. If you know Hillingdon, Brian's Bends are the double bend that make the course a kidney shape. Race was anticlockwise.
This race marked my entry to Masters (E1234) racing and I really didn't know what to expect. Would some gang of ex-pros turn up and wave goodbye to me on the first lap? I hoped that the standard would be higher than Cat4, what with all those accrued man-years of racing (precisely 0.4 of which being mine). This proved to be the case. Weather was clear, but VERY windy, the warm up laps felt like I was being pushed up the incline, but the last turn and finish meant one would be fighting to get on a wheel at every lap. A tactical trip to the toilet meant I missed the briefing, including the length of the race - thought it was 50 km (30 laps?). A field of about 50-odd, with at least 35 in my class (40-50). All setting off together.
First lap was at a manic pace, group was strung out through Brian's Bends, and as expected, a sprint on the straight into the wind, followed by a slowing with compression at the first bend. Pace was fast. Faster than anything I've ridden. Lane discipline was good. Brakes were used sparingly. A club mate got off the front but the group got nervous and reeled him in. A few laps later we lapped the ladies and somebody decided to attack past the club house and up the incline. Again the group followed, but it looked like people were tiring and I jumped to stay on a front group of about 20 riders. These were brought back again.
Laps passed. my team mate and another Finchley rider escape off the front, so I placed about fifth wheel and made my modest frame as big as possible and tried not to look as though I'd sat up. The wheelers/dynamos looked to try and hold things up as well. We narrowly avoided a crash with the now finished ladies group as we passed the clubhouse at 26+ mph and it was then I realised our race would be over soon (pity). Three laps to go and the pair are still out front, then two and the pace rises to try and bring them back. We catch the pair as the bell rings and the last lap is taken at about 28 mph. I'm sitting about 15-20th, so not really in contention but not far away. I spin up the incline (fixed wheel commuting means I spin very easily), placed inside for Brian's Bend and have to move onto the grass as I'm cut up with nowhere to go. Accelerate again and start my (woeful) sprint into the wind for the line. I pass my team mate and finish in the first group, possibly top 30 and far enough up that my number is recorded on the results sheet (must be a first!).
Average speed: 25.6 mph
Average HR: 168 bpm
The 10 mile ride home into the wind was dreadful. Once home it was GCSE revision with Son1 and cleaning out the guinea pigs. Sparticus wouldn't stand for it!
Lessons learned - my races seem to follow four phases:
First third - this hurts, I'm going to get dropped again
Second third - I'm in a race! A real race! And I've not been dropped yet!
Last third - Still here, I can finish with the group! Others seem to be
suffering more than me on these inclines
Sprint (or not)
Suffice to say, that prior to November, the last competitive sport I did was lightweight rowing at college many years ago (work it out) and village cricket for a very modest Sunday team in Oxfordshire. If you had said, even last September, that you would be racing competitively in six months time, I'd have dismissed you as nuts. But daily commuting, Saturday and Tuesday club rides and a have-a-go attitude means that I'm keenly looking for the next race! It's very addictive! And if I can start my racing career at the modest age of 45, then anyone can.