2:30pm – I found myself lining up on the grid in the last row knowing that I had a lot of work ahead trying to get through the traffic of slower riders. Because I had not competed in many races last year I didn’t have enough points to be one of the top 20 seeded riders. I positioned myself behind fellow young rider and good fried Ben Bradley who I know loves a fast start and will do anything to get to the pointy end of the race.
The gun went and we were off. I started on the left side knowing that everyone would move to the right for the first right hand corner. This allowed me a clear run around the outside and almost half way up the 70 strong field. HED Focus Team Mate Shaun Lewis was forced wide on the first corner almost ending up in the metal gate alongside the course making him get off and have to rejoin the race in the second half of the field. The next few hair pin corners were congested as everyone jostled for position and started to thin out into a single file line.
About ¼ way through the first lap I was trying to pedal around a 180’ slightly off camber corner and found myself taking a small nap in the middle of the course. I quickly jumped back up knowing that it is much easier to make up ground on the front leaders in the first part of the race then it is to in the later stages.
A few more laps passed and the field started to spread out and I had been consistently moving up a few places each lap as I was starting to find some clean riding space. Then all of a sudden like clockwork four Focus Bikes Team mates had all joined and it would have looked like a team’s time trial. Nick Both was sitting on the front of the group pushing the pace and I gave a turn when I could, but really, I don’t think it helped at all as I probably didn’t even break the wind for him!
As the race went on and the hill started to take its toll ,I lost contact with Nick and was in my own little world of hurt. The wind was very strong and every time I came to the barriers I would always contemplate hopping them knowing that I could make the height but worrying that the wind may pick up my 60kg body and throw it across the track.
I finally got around to looking at how many laps I had to go as I crossed the start finish line and it was only three left. I started to try go faster as everyone does, but my legs started to have better ideas. It was starting to get past the length of racing that we had been dong at local club CX races but it wasn’t over yet. I just tried to stay consistent and not make any stupid mistakes.