The date was set for the LBRCC takeover, and the day arrived. In the 4th Cat race, six people were entered, one dropped out (mentioning no names, but rhymes with Even Hand...), and the solitary figure of myself in the 2/3rd cat race.
4th Cat Race
After a brief talk from the commissaire, the race was off, with two neutralised laps behind a pace car. Nerves showed through a little, with three of the five LBRCC'ers lurking near the back as the bunch came round. The car pulled away and the race was off!
The race carried on with the pace unrelenting. Riders continued to drop away from the pack including Neil G, who found himself feeling strong in the second group on the circuit. Unfortunately, Neil C, looking in great form in the lead group, had to pull out around halfway, as did Ross after a valiant solo effort. Neil and Miles carried on, picking up groups along the way, looking a little tired, but strong nonetheless, and both battled on. Both finished, with Neil taking the LBRCC honours, with Miles second. Strong rides from both overall!
|Flickr: James V Barlow|
Post race, LBRCC regrouped, weary, but in high spirits. Everyone enjoyed the race, a baptism of fire for the new riders, but great experience,
After a commissaire briefing and two neutralised paced laps, the race was off with absolutely astounding ferocity. Reports are that up the hill coming out of the last corner, riders were hitting 600 - 800watts! My positioning hadn't got any better, and I was playing catch up with a full out sprint before the first lap was up. This was an ongoing issue, as the number of strong and more experienced riders didn't allow for moving up the bunch easily. The whiplash effect of the top riders at the front meant I had to pull out 3 huge sprints per lap, which although I felt good, I knew were unsustainable.
However, anyone that knows me in the squash world will know that I don't give up until I break, a Moussa inspired 'Heart of a Lion!!!' approach. I decided it was all or nothing, and despite the hummingbird like heart rate and pumped legs, I kicked it up a notch and set in pursuit. I made the most of an empty circuit, hammering the corners, and making ground every turn. I knew I had to make contact with the bunch in the exposed area, which I did on the turn before. The climb was incredibly unpleasant, but I held on.
It was always going to be a struggle from then onwards. Despite my excellent anaerobic capacity, developed from years of squash, there is always a limit. I reached this 2 laps later, after struggling to move up to a better position in the bunch, an acceleration on the climb proved to be my undoing, along with several others. I did a few solo laps, getting some practise in, and satisfyingly catching a few people in the meantime!
Overall, I'm not really too disappointed. There's a massive, massive gap between this race and the usual 3/4 race at the bowl. I'm sure this was exacerbated by the former 1st Cat riders looking for easy early season points in a bid for promotion. There is simply no room for error in this race, the accelerations out of the corners are unsustainable at the back of the bunch, you really need to be in the top 20, gaining the most benefit, especially in the exposed section. I was pleased with my fitness considering a lack of riding, and my cornering skills gained last season have remained/come back quickly. I simply need to learn how to hold my position in the bunch, as it's necessary at this level, whereas at 4th cat I could get away with it. The only way to get better is practise, and happily, there is a whole season ahead for that!