First Race

Something is wrong. Something is seriously wrong.

It’s the second weekend in March, I’m at Darley Moor for the first National B circuit race of the year organised by Ashfield RC and there’s no wind; there’s no wind at Darley! You know what, the sun might even be threatening to make an appearance. This surely must be the end of days.

In a way though perhaps this is only fitting after all this is a new season that has arrived with new changes for Leisure Lakes Bikes Racing. We acquired two great new riders, whom I am sure we shall introduce properly elsewhere, in Geoff Comley and Andrew Magnier and we have switched over to a comprehensive sponsorship package with Specialized: after sorting us out with helmets and shoes last year they have extended this to bikes this year.

So Jono “The Wall” Hornblow and I turned up for the team’s first hit-out in anger of the year with the other 4 guys racing the National B Evesham Vale Road Race the following day.

As usual, I shan’t get into a blow-by-blow race description but by way of brief summary, with the lack of wind the large-ish field of circa 70 riders stayed together for the whole race and it was decided by a bunch sprint. Both Jono and I had tried at separate times to get away from the bunch but the pace was perhaps too high to make such efforts successfully sustainable and there seemed to be a lack of appetite in the bunch to break up the field. Jono was held up behind a crash on the last lap and whilst I avoided that I was never going to trouble the top places in a bunch sprint at that level.

Overall though, notwithstanding the disconcerting climatic conditions it was a positive experience. The first race of the year is always a nervous experience: I defy anyone on the line not to be nervous, filled with questioning self-doubt as to whether they have trained and prepared well enough. As I am sure any cyclist can appreciate, it’s easy to feel like a champion in training on your own, but that remains an illusory perception until you pin a number on and test yourself against your fellow competitors.

One final point to address in this first post of the year is the quality of the new race bike provided by Specialized UK. This year we are on the Tarmac model with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset. I really cannot fault this bike in any way and would in fact highly recommend it after a few weeks of riding. The bike is super smooth, I mean serious, smooth criminal, smooth operator, smooth. For saying this is a fast, stiff race racing machine it soaks up the road buzz with consummate ease, testament to the quality of the carbon fibre used in the frame construction. But this ease on the road in no way deadens the feel of the bike, the feedback and handling are excellent and it responds with effective immediacy to any accelerations.

So, next up is the first round of the East Midlands Road Race League organised by Derby Mercury RC on the notoriously hilly Windley circuit, let’s see how that goes…

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