Driving home from the 60-something mile road race in Tenterden today I found myself getting a little emotional.
Was it the fact that, after 6 months of hard winter training I got that first-oh-so-unsure-of-my-form race under my belt?
Or perhaps it was the fact that all 8 of our team, PB Cycle Coaching RT, rode their bloody socks off?
Or that we had prepared for this race together and then today rode like a team and communicated throughout the race like the great friends we’ve now become?
Or that we had team mates, partners, friends and family all come to watch?
Or could it have been how I had to destroy myself on that bastard climb in ways that I didn’t know were possible?!
You know, I reckon it was a bit of all these, making me an extremely proud, relieved and highly motivated man tonight, as our racing has now truly begun
So what happened?
80 starters. 5 and a bit laps of the 12 mile circuit which featured a fierce climb into Tenterden, some very fast windy sections and a few rises that really hurt the legs for good measure!
Barny got in 2 breaks fairly early on, we covered the counters but he was reeled back in.
Word then travelled through the peloton that there had been a crash but, although Barny, Stu and Trevor all went down, thankfully nobody was hurt.
They were to pay a price for their furious chase back on though later on.
About half way through the race a break went up the road without one of us in it so I turned to Barny and, upon realising he was still in bits after his chase I then spoke to Ed! Ed jumped away at the foot of the climb, gained some ground all the way up and was still away over the top. We did sweep him up on the windy (understatement) fast section but still, he got us plenty of air-time.
2 to go
Richard G had positioned him beautifully in the peloton throughout most of the race, great ride.
Richard B’s gear cable snapped leaving him just the small ring so it was goodbye from him but an incredible ride to this point in his first race in years.
Up the climb for the penultimate time and the earlier chase had left Stu and Trevor in the red for too long and they lost contact, as did Ed after his massive solo effort. They are only yards back though and are still in contention.
Me, Barny and Andy left now. I am turning myself inside out but I’m over the penultimate climb. I must say at this point that I’ve been particularly pleased with a few aspects of my riding today:
- I’ve managed to move around at will as each time I saw a possible gap I would say to myself: “you can get 2 Belgians in there!”
- I’ve been the leeward side and near the front all day
- I’ve only been putting down the power when I’ve needed to
Add to that the fact that the weather for the first time this year was amazing and my team have given me and each other so much encouragement lately and I was starting to think about the finish. It was a short, uphill drag. I can do this. A few miles before we got to the bell (just shy of 50 miles into the race I guess) I hit a drain/pothole/something else that the council could have bloody fixed but, other than a loud bang, I got away with it. 1 minute later my tyre was flat.
What’s more we’re going downhill t about 40 mph. I couldn’t put my hand in the air so just prayed that I’d stay upright and everyone would go around me. They did I was delighted to see that the bunch was less than half the size it was at the start.
I was doing ok.
I grabbed a wheel from neutral service to get me home (my own wheel may I add), well aware of my own limitations (I was not getting back in on my own with 1 lap to go) and watched the finish.
Barny and Andy came in approximately 15th an 16th and Trevor and Stu just off the back.
Post race banter and a coffee and everyone was very pleased with their form so early on in the season and we’re all aware of where we need improve (it mainly involves eating less cake, doesn’t it always?!).
I’ve said everything, I’m smiling ear to ear. Now get yourselves on Rider HQ at 6pm, let’s enter the next one and do it all over again!