So the second race in the 2017 East Midlands Road Race League and my first blog for the team.
As a relative newbie to the league I got the low-down from Jono and Joe on what the Sutton Bonington circuit had in store for. Actually when rolling over the start line I had the vaguest recollection of racing here when I first started cycling, maybe even part of the National Junior Race Series, so the circuit wasn’t completely unfamiliar. Flat and fast is what I was promised. And that is what I got.
Having felt somewhat out of sorts on my bike recently I had promised myself no attacking early on, just to duck and dive and take a few free miles to start with. After a winter of mainly track racing I couldn’t guarantee that I could be at the front of a road race for a full 75 miles.
However within the first few miles our “keen as mustard” Jono Hornblow was already off the front on his own, stretching his legs apparently, and I felt obliged to get racing and take some of the effort off him. It was obvious straight away that Clay Cross wanted to race hard early on and in a number of splits off the front they were very well represented with 3-4 riders. Picking my moment meant that I was rewarded with a fabulous tow across a 30 seconds or so gap. I got into a group of 11 riders that miraculously would never be seen by the bunch again.
I say miraculous because from the make-up of the group and the way we rode I completely expected to get pulled back by a bunch that contained a number of very motivated and quick riders. In our group were a mix of team riders who to their credit worked hard early on to establish a gap. But there were also a couple of riders been given a complete free ride at the back of the break and as the race went on it became more and more disruptive to the through and off pace that was being set. And personally for me, knowing how well Jono and Joe back in the bunch were going, I was quite happy for us to get brought back and roll the dice again.
In the end it didn’t get brought back. We spent what was actually a quite enjoyable 50 or so miles riding well in the sunshine. To my complete surprise all 11 of us would contest the sprint finish. Despite having three riders there Clay Cross didn’t appear to want to break the group up further. It was a slight uphill finish with a headwind and this meant no-one took it up early. So with 200m to go I made the move.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough in the tank. A bit of cramp meant my effort was fairly lame. Enough for 4th which on reflection was reasonable. But in a past life I’d have made much more from that position maybe I am lacking a bit of self-belief as well as conditioning.
Onwards and upwards, a few more of these will do me the world of good. And exciting to hear just how strong the other LLB chaps were covering moves in the bunch, it should make for more exciting racing to come.