I went much easier on training in the run up to this race, having had a really hard week the week before, and feeling so down on power in the actual race. Just a couple of rides, and intervals, no huge miles. Although, I did end up going out on the Friday, and the legs felt so good I ended up doing a lap of Richmond Park at a little below threshold which was probably slightly stupid.
I got up on Saturday and prepped as usual, despite the weather being pretty vile, 4 or so degrees and rain/sleet. Got on my bike and cycled the 10 miles or so up to Hillingdon, stupid garmin tried to direct me onto the M4, but a quick check of googlemaps had me going again and was there in plenty of time.
Was so glad I bought a change of base layers, socks and shoes when I got there as I was sodden already. Got changed and ready and headed out onto the circuit for a couple of recon laps and to try and warm up. The wind was blowing pretty strong, and for anyone who knows Hillingdon, it was blowing down the small rise up to the corners, so if you were at the front of the bunch here it would be tough. Then it would string right out down the start/finish straight with it being downwind.
We lined up at the start and off we went after the usual briefing. I’d never raced in the rain, but imagined it to be pretty grim. It was, think constant face full of spray and grit when sat in the bunch. I was soaked again after the first couple of laps, and was starting to lose the feeling in my hands. My legs felt reasonable though, although not as good as they did the day before annoyingly. I sat in the bunch for the first half, just scoping things out, where would be best to attack from, and just working on moving around the group, which I was feeling way more comfortable doing.
Did a couple of turns on the front but was keen to save my juice for the end. Managed a couple of attacks when required as well, but nothing looked too dangerous, especially with that headwind going up the hill.
Eventually the hands started to come back to me and I started feeling a bit better, just before the lap board came out. I consciously got myself in the front group, but was keen to not be taking the wind all the way up the hill each time, so let the first couple of riders come past me and cheekily sat in up the hill which seemed to work well. With 2 laps to go a couple of attacks went off but again, nothing that looked dangerous, and I helped to manage the gap to them without working too hard until we came round for the last lap. One guy had a couple of seconds on the bunch, and another was just off the front.
Again I positioned myself nicely out of the wind up the hill, and by this point the two up front were struggling into the wind. I knew I have decent power for a lap at full gas, but wanted to wait until half a lap, which took a fair bit of discipline. As we got half way up the hill I kicked hard, I was sat about fourth wheel in the group by this point, so used them to hide from the wind and slingshot past, I was out of the saddle and sprinting up the hill, I used the first and second riders slipstreams and past both before the corners, I gained a bit of breath back through the first hairpin, and then was out of the saddle and sprinting for the line clear of everyone. Quickly looked back and I seemed to have a good gap so I sat back in the saddle but kept the power as high as I could, before rounding the last corner and sprinting for the line!
In my head I was sprinting for the win, until I rounded the last corner and saw another 4th Cat rider up the road!! I rolled up to him past the line and apparently he’d been in a solo break since 25 mins in! Very impressive given the conditions
Felt a little disappointed not to be able to win, but 2nd had meant I still had enough points to move up to 3rd Cat so I had to be happy, so I suspect my first win won’t come for some time yet, as I have no doubt in moving up a category the standard will be much higher. This allows me to enter some proper road races though, which I’m really looking forward to. I’d set myself the goal of becoming 3rd Cat within the first half of the year, so to do it in January alone after 3 races, I was pretty happy with.
Strava ride – https://www.strava.com/activities/248557859
Avgerage Power – 247w
NP – 267w
As an aside, I’ve also managed to drop 5kg since Christmas to put me at 80kg, meaning the w/kg is starting to look a bit better. Looking to ideally get down towards 75kg in the next couple of months.