08 Sep 16
This year's season started with North Weald TLI in May in which I had some good results, finishing in the bunch and in the top 3 of my age category.
Towards the end of May, having been going to Lee Valley Velodrome to take my accreditation, I decided to try one of the " Full Gas " races on the outdoor track. This proved to be a great race with a good surface and some fast racing. Unfortunately, not knowing the track and the finish too well, I ended up getting blocked on the sprint and finished just outside the top ten.
The next week brought the highs and lows of bike racing. On the Tuesday at North Weald I finished 7th. Then on the Thursday I was brought down with a big bump with a crash on the last lap of the race at Dunton on the down-hill finish. (My Garmin says I was doing 30+ mph at point of impact!). The result of this was quite a bit of skin left on the circuit and trashed kit. The impact ripped my helmet off but only a bit of bar tape on the bike was damaged. Yes, the first thing I thought of first was the bike!
This could not have happened at a worse time as in just over a week's time was my first track race meet at Lee Valley Velodrome in the Full Gas open track meet. So, with a week off the bike trying to heal up I turned up not knowing how it would go. As it was an open meet there were some very fast riders. With 3 races to do - a scratch, an elimination and a points race - this proved to be a very brutal evening. No placing at this but I found it great fun - if pain can be fun!
With that out of the way I decided to take a week off as the 2nd Tour of Hertfordshire race was just over a week away. I had already taken part in the first one of these at the Building Research Establishment. This was a cat 3/4 which means you get some good riders making the race blow apart, so not a good result at that one. The next one was at Letchworth. Having to work in the morning meant I could only do the Masters race. This means any racer over 40 can race but can be any category of rider. Unfortunately I could not stay with the the lead group so settled in to the next group. As I was still carrying injuries from the crash I struggled to hang on but managed to stay in till the end.
The next week came my favourite race, the Fete du Velo at Redbourn. Still carrying a bit of a lump I started the cat 4 race not sure how I would get on. With a small team from one club pushing the pace and attacking I decided to cover attacks and sit behind the lead rider on each lap. With half the race gone I tried a break which was quickly pulled back back. I then sat in till the last lap. Out of the last corner the sprint started with a long slight up-hill drag to the finish. I managed to pick the right wheel out of the corner and with 30 meters left gave my all which brought me my best finish of 3rd. This did finish me off as 1 hour later, in the masters race, my hip gave out and I had to pull up. Still, not a bad way to lead into my Holiday break.
On returning it was back to North Weald. The race had a break which I missed so finished in the 2nd group. It was then on to the 3rd round of the Tour of Hertfordshire with again two races around a town centre. The first race was the cat 4 which was fast from the start and split into small groups the whole way round the circuit. As this was a course where it is hard to get past people I finished outside the top 10. The second race was the Masters. Again a fast start caused the race to split but I managed to hold on to a small group and finished 11th - which I was very pleased with once I could breath again after digging very deep for this one!
The next Saturday I took part in the Full Gas open meet at Lee Valley Velodrome. This time I had a great time only missing out on a break in the scratch race, finishing 8th in the elimination race and only just missing out in the reverse win out race.
After this I went to try a race at Milton Keynes Bowl which proved very successful with a 6th place. The only problem with finishing 6th was that it left me just 1 point short of gaining my 3rd category license. With this in mind it was off to the Lee Valley outdoor track with the aim of finishing in the top 10. As with all the best laid plans I finished 12th after getting blocked in the sprint. So it was back to Milton Keynes and this time I sat in for the whole race with the plan of a top 10 finish. This time there was success with another 6th place which moved me up to 3rd Category.
It was now time to step up and do my first road race in 30 years. So it was off to Toddington for the Watford Velo Club road race. This was on a rolling course with a sharp hill towards the finish. This proved to be the point at which my bad luck returned with a rider in the bunch changing gear and dropping his chain. This caused him to fall with me having to stop to get round him on the hill. That was it for about four of us as we were dropped off the back of the race. I spent the next 2 laps of the 9 mile circuit trying to get back in but without success. This meant a finish at the back of the race after 45 miles.
With the end of the season fast approaching I went off to try another race circuit at Bovingdon. This proved to be a great circuit with a great surface and fast racing. I finished in a small group after it rained, not being sure of how much grip there was. This brings me to the one thing that was not a race; Derny training at Lee Valley Velodrome. This was amazing with high speeds up to 57kph.
With only one race left for points at North Weald it was all in for a good finish. In the end it was 3rd place overall for the year in my age category.
With just one race left now, at the end of September, the Tour of Hertfordshire race at Hitchin on the 25th. I will be looking forward to racing the Full Gas winter track league Starting in November.
If anyone wants to watch some track racing the ECCA track meet is on the 1st of October. Come and support your Club's track riders!