By Chris H.
I rolled up to the lead car in my first road race, a 100km 2/3/4 in Benenden.
It had been 8 months since my shoulder had separated in a crash in a C3/4 CRIT race on the south coast involving an ambulance and copious amounts of drugs (isn’t morphine great?). The end result was my very own parrots perch where a smooth shoulder line used to be. A permanent reminder out of the corner of my left eye of what happens when racing goes wrong.
I spent hours in the gym cycling no handed, got back on the bike, built up my upper body strength, did TTs on a road bike as I couldn’t get into an aero position, managed to nick my Cat3 in the second to last masters race of the season, joined the full gas winter track league at the velodrome and decided to get structured.
I bought some P1 power pedals (yes I know Andy.. you told me so..) , Joe Friel’s book and some cook books.
Train hard, rest hard, eat proportionally.
Waiting behind the lead car I wasn’t nervous. Some of the team had ridden with me the week before to rec the course. We had discussed riding the “convection currents” to the front, don’t drop back, sit in, stay out of the wind, stick with them as it will ease after a rush, remember the pot holes, get through the first two laps, avoid the cars, don’t cross the white lines, it will end, keep an eye out for your team, drink and fuel yourself…….
Off we went, fast and furious (stick with them it will ease), every corner a rush (don’t drop back), riders coming past (ride the convection current), there’s the barn (where’s that pothole?), down-hill left hander, reverse camber drain cover in middle of road.. a constant monologue in my head.
Lap two, fighting to get back on again (don’t drop back) I think I am in trouble but then I see the whole peloton ahead of me. (DON’T DROP BACK..) I am not doing that again and work back to the front. (stay out of the wind, don’t cross the line).
(This will end) One way or another it will end.
“Nice one Chris” as a team mate goes past, I feel elated, I am actually doing this and haven’t been dropped yet (don’t cross the white line). Paul pings of the front, “stay there” he says as we try and help him escape (what lap are we on?)
Second to last lap, “got a spare gel Andy?” ,miss the hand off, gel drops to the floor, “you ****”, never heard him say that before, must be the race, corner coming up (stick with them it will ease)
A blink of an eye it’s the last lap, the break has gone and isn’t coming back, still some points to fight for, is that twinging cramp going to stay or go?, I am still in the bunch, well I wasn’t expecting that, home straight, might as well blow my biscuits….
21st ! Hurrah.. first race over, I finished in the bunch, executed my game plan, with my team mates, I can still move my legs.. Nice one..