Put me back in the Championship
My past three races have been of the highest level I’ve ever done. Two Premier Calendar (“prems”) which are part of the men’s national road race series (British Cycling HSBC UK | Spring Cup) and a UCI 1.2 road race. These are serious bike races, major targets for professional riders and teams. They have TV coverage, closed roads and big prize money to be won. Part of the reason I had joined TBW Bottechia Wigmore at the start of the year was to ride these kind of events, as I’d never get the opportunity otherwise. However I was certainly apprehensive; I had no idea whether I was good enough even to finish one.
They started on the 2nd of April with the Klondike GP, a grippy 150km with nearly 3000m of climbing. The start was in Guisborough and the route headed around the coast and up the suitably savage Saltburn Bank climb. Large crowds littered the route and the atmosphere was remarkable.
After a speedy first few kilometers, there was a touch of wheels and a pile-up of bodies just in front of myself. I managed to hop onto the grass and scoot around the carnage but after a max-out chase back on to the riders ahead, the race was neutralised whilst ambulances saw to those involved. The pace didn’t let up after the start and I suffered over the sharp steep climbs on the course. Just before the final lap, after about 100kms of racing, I was spat from the bunch and my race was over. If you watch the video below closely, I think you can see me going out the back door…
The second prem was Tour of the Wolds in Lincolnshire. After a savage pace (someone told me the first hour was 30mph average!) I was left behind yet again after only 90 minutes when crosswinds blew the race to shreds. Despite chasing for all I was worth, the leaders weren’t coming back. Conveniently the first 90 minutes took me from Louth (the start and HQ) and dropped me off 15 miles away on the far side of the Wolds. After stopping for directions several times, I made my way back to Louth solo. I arrived just in time to catch up with teammate Tyler Lemon, who’d also been dropped before he trekked back to London. I watched on as 21 battled it out on the finishing circuit in the town center with the consolation that I wasn’t the one coming away with a DNF that day.
Tour of the Wolds…
Next up was Rutland Cicle Classic, the “longest standing one day international race on the British calendar” with 33 teams from across Europe competing. To make it interesting, the organisers include 11 sectors of off-road farm track and a prize list including over £2000, a Giant Melton pork-pie and your own weight in beer. The race began with an “easy” hour at 28mph twice around Rutland Water reservoir outside Oakham. The hammer was really dropped coming back into Oakham since everyone wanted to be at the front going onto the first sector in order to avoid trouble. This was my plan too, but unfortunately was one shared by 200 others in the race, most of whom were faster cyclists than me. Inevitably I ended up in the rear half of the field, and when we hit the sectors I rode into a wall of dust with riders emerging ahead of me holding broken bikes. The race was strung out and given my placing, I was dropped after about half of the 189km route. Chasing again proved fruitless. Morale was raised with James Ambrose-Parish over a chilled can of coke.
Although I felt like I learnt so much from these races, if you haven’t noticed I failed to finish a single one. Hopefully lower level races will feel easier after these. If that’s the premier league, put me back in the championship!