Even though I’ve only done a few races since getting my official licence, I like to consider myself a fairly competent rider. It was pretty evident at the start of the race that many riders didn’t have experience in groups or chain gangs. Something I’ve come to realise has contributed lots whilst racing, not just in strength but in the etiquette of racing.
The last time I raced at York I choose to sit on the front and do a lot of the work. My tactical outlook was all wrong and although I still felt pretty strong towards the end I’d probably have been better easing off and putting the pressure on during the final few laps.
A tactical plan is always great but quite difficult to put into action. The race is fast moving and forever changing, especially a Cat4 race where everyone’s a bit all over the place. I eased myself into the middle of the pack for the first half of the race, the only issue I found with riding in the middle was I spent more time avoiding sketchy riding than concentrating on position.
There were a few break aways here and there, but they were all a little early meaning they soon tired and re-joined the peloton.
Last 10 laps and the pace ramped up. Not only having to contend with the sketchy riding, there was now lots of wheel over lapping and riders not holding lines when going into corners.
On the second to last lap I found myself unable to pursue the front 10. I got swallowed up by riders to the left and right, going from a great position at the front to the near back in a couple of seconds. There wasn’t a great deal I could do, I remember thinking it was over as I was pretty much at the back of the pack. Final lap arrived and again the pace stepped up for the final push, coming towards the final corner in the peloton I moved to the right in order to take the final left hand hairpin corner. I saw an opportunity and went for the sprint on the inside shouting “ON YOUR LEFT” to avoid any others that might have a similar idea. I managed to get to the hairpin first, took the corner with less speed but geared up for the final sprint.
The sprint was the most physically brutal experience of my life – I knew it was 110% or watch the others fly past me. Crossing the line in 2nd place with a huge vom related relief. The gent that got 1st took the same line as me coming out of the hair pain, chased my wheel and just before the line branched out to take the win! I didn’t really care though, 2nd place was a huge success for me!
With only 4 more points left until Cat 3 I now find myself contemplating if a Cat3 race will feel safer given the more experienced riders, there was so much sketchy riding it’s enough to put many off racing!
Either way here’s to my first podium finish and more racing in the future!