No matter at what level of this sport you are at… the occasional racer or the professional cyclist you can never escape occasionally having a bad day on the bike..
It can be a combination of many things but the end result is always the same… a depressingly poor performance.
After riding the Colne Valley Challenge last weekend on the SS I was feeling pretty strong... I was able to drop most riders on the climbs and was descending well over the few bit of singletrack… I have to admit that the effort was felt in the legs on the Monday but Mark factored this into last weeks training.
Round 3 of the Lee Quarry racing was happening so thought another good chance to get out and give myself a confidence boost before next weekends drive down to the 12 hour Set2Rise race where I would like to do well.
Great thing about Lee Quarry is its close.. I mean only 40 minutes drive from my house so prep is minimal... the race was only 90 minutes plus a lap so food etc was very low key aswell.. in fact it was a good breakfast..a single bottle and a gel just in case.
I did the unusual thing of pre riding the course.. usually I don’t want to see what I will be lapping for 12 hours but as this was a short race and a short course and would be a good warm up I paid my entry got changed and went for a spin.. or more a slow grind.. the climbing was on the borderline of my gearing being rideable but only just with a few sections just I chose to save the effort and push up.. not so bad I thought … was a little harsh on the fully rigid but if I could get enough speed up I wouldn’t feel the full force of the rocky terrain..
The start… unluckily the start was on a hill… a hill which was on the borderline of my gearing.. I noticed another SS rider in the racer cat and he was both feet clipped in and hanging onto the fence down the right side of the start line.. good idea… I tried to angle my bike slightly to take away starting on the full slope but as the race set off I was left flailing and scooting trying to clip in and went from the first line to near the back and as I looked up I could see the other SS rider cresting one of the first climbs leading the race.. .
I muscled the bike the best I could but my legs didn’t have the strength they had the week before and I was getting a good muscle shake every time I was seated and trying to force the gear… on the flat and descents I struggled to get on top of my gear and pop over the rocky sections so I just got progressively more beat up.. although was good to get some good shouts of support from the marshalls and spectators with much respect being given for the foolish fully rigid SS choice..
I figured on a 6 lap race.. I did have a mid race peak when I could see I was making ground up on the other SS rider.. I could actually see him mid lap but at the end of the lap I did catch him.. but only as he had punctured and pulled over to replace the tube.. I went past and carried on.. most races I will feel awful until I hit an hour then the legs and the brain switch on and I’m away.. this time an hour came and I failed to rise to the occasion in fact I think I slowed down..
As I ended the 5th lap no bell… I was out on my 6th with the prospect of having to do a 7th… to make matter worse the other SS rider caught me on starting the 6th lap.. I am so bad for napping mid race.. I lose focus when there is nothing front of me and sub consciously slow down.. I stayed with him briefly then lost touch as a back marker got inbetween us..
Then the final blow was getting caught mid lap by the overall leader which effectively meant he was on his bell lap and stopped the race for me at end of my 6th lap putting me a lap down on a number of riders.. never great to finish a lap adrift.. well not in short course racing anyway..
This left me nothing but to clean bike and pack the car and reflect…
So I learned to;
- When starting a race on a hill on a SS get both feet clipped in
- Bad days happen to us all… learn from it and move on
- I am no short course racer.. 4 hours plus only from now on..
Lets hope Set2Rise goes more too plan
Pic courtesy of www.laimonas.co.uk