Alp, Alp and Away.
Thursday 29th June 2017 – Velopark 4th Cat men’s race.
16:49 – This was a spontaneous last-minute decision to actually participate in this race. So there I was, messaging MDCC rider Dave Lewis seeing if he was keen for a ride, to which he replied “Race Race Race”. At this point I was thinking this is a no for me – I was only interested in a bimble around the bay. However, when he replied, “get in the 4th and win the f&@ker will ya”, I was sold. He has so much faith in me!!!!
16:55 – Bowl… Porridge… 45g, half and half milk and water (surely saving those calories) glazed with a heap of peanut butter- counteracting the water with more calories. Surely this will fuel me I thought. The last month I have been restricting my intake in calories to lose a few Kgs… better late than, never right?!
17:30 – Currently getting nervous I scrambled round to find all my kit scattered around the house. Whilst charging the DI2 on the bike – I previously experienced a couple close calls with charge issues. Bike checks all done!
18:15 – Now I’ve had time to chill whilst thinking of a plan of how to ride the race. The plan… stay in the group, save energy and give it my all with a few laps to go. It worked last time so should work, again right? I left the house with an easy ride to the Velopark which is only a few miles and gives me time to sign on and warm up on the course!
18:59 – After a light warmup, I was confident I was race ready! Conferring with Steve Bone MDCC about his plan, he told me that it is his “last ride in 4th cat and it was not going to have an easy one”. It was clear he was keen to give it some beans and be promoted to 3rd Cat in style.
19:00 – The race is off! A steady first lap for the field. The starting straight was into a headwind… as it always is!!! This would be when someone wants to make an impact. One guy goes off the front (not sure of his name) so I react with a kick of power to gain his wheel – the plan was now a distant memory misted with testosterone. A quick glance behind soon showed the field was already stretching out. MDCC’s Steve Bone joined behind me along with EWCC Owen Prior. The four of us started working together as a defined break.
After another lap or two, one guy dropped off the back. Kent, Bone and Prior were now in a 3 man break. All three of us working hard together…. Start straight Prior, Hair pin one… Kent… Tail wind straight… Bone… and so it goes on… each lap was the same person on the same section! Whilst this was going on we could all see the gap getting bigger and bigger. Eventually we lapped the slower of the two groups. Chase or be chased? We decided to try and get on the wheels of the larger group in order to have a reserved few laps before the finale. Each hair pin slowly gaining more time on the chase. We made it and bridged a gap which allowed us to at least a two minute advantage. However, I could feel cramp setting in on my left calf (not enough nutrition). I quickly grabbed a gel and guzzled the rest of my water, I actually thought my race was over at this point and if Bone and Prior attacked I wouldn’t have been able to hold their wheels.
DING DING DING, final lap, I’ve almost stretched out the cramp and the legs are spinning – this was the calm before the storm. On the parallel straight, Prior then attacks hard… giving it his all. Bone reacts, he’s not letting this wheel go! And then there was me… I was like a dog fetching a bone (get it?). I got to the wheels! Last hair pin… the sequence: Prior, Bone and Kent. I knew I was in a good position! Adrenalin was now pumping around my body at 185bmp and rising. Last corner before the straight, gear selected… hands placed on the drops (if you know me you don’t normally see this as I always look like I’m riding chilled)…
GRAB!!!! This time it was not my hands but cramp setting in again, rhythm now distorted I knew I had to dig deep, deeper than I’ve ever been, not quite 6ft but at the same time deep! I pushed through the cramp, gaining just a little bit more speed than the other two, the line was approaching faster and faster. I’m now square on with Bone with a couple meters to go! I then pushed so hard on my bars throwing my bike in front of me. Looking in my peripheral vision, I could see a slight gain on Bones front wheel. Finally, the verdict was drawn. It was a good result for MDCC 1st and 2nd Kent and Bone with Prior taking 3rd.
Overall, to describe the title of the report… I spent 6 days in the saddle in the French Alps with the Beys (all grown men): Craig Hickson, Stew Dunn, Matt Dunn, Jerry Butcher and myself. 310 miles in the legs with nearly 40000ft of climbing. This race was a test of my pain threshold, not that there is a Col at the Velopark, but as I hadn’t really had time to ride since the previous Friday the training certainly paid off!
A big thank you to the event organiser – Bobby Cowsill @ Cycle Sports South Hams – for the great organisation.
Thanks for reading,
Au Revoir – Ashley!