This one will be brief. Alan was in the first group, I started in a big middle group and Wayne was with handful of second cats, two minutes behind. Our group was too big to work effectively, so I got to the front and on the second lap attacked. A Boston rider came with me but it didn’t stick. A lap later and a rider, right at the front of the pack, slid off on one of the bends – the track was quite slick – fortunately the bunch was being stretched by another attack so no one else was taken down as his bike and body parted company. The attacks continued. Twenty minutes in and we caught the fourth cats, a couple of minutes after that a Welland and St Ives rider had made a decent gap. I knew the Welland Rider was strong and could probably make it stick, so I knuckled down and tried to bridge to them. It took nearly a full lap of very hard riding but, I did it.
The break stuck, although was being dragged around more than I was being an active participant. I was struggling to recover from riding across. I had to turn my computer off though, we were only half an hour, we had the same again to race, but the seconds were ticking off at the speed of minutes. I had a long hard ride ahead, but with a quick glance over my shoulder, I couldn’t see the bunch. That gave me encouragement.
Twenty-five minutes into the break and two young lads bridged across. I had had a gel about ten minutes before, and with the extra two riders I was starting to feel more comfortable, or was perhaps just adapting to being pushed at my limit. We worked together now, taking short turns at the front and I was finding it easier to ride past the front wheel to take my turn. I was happier with the new arrangement, and with about four laps left, a top five was almost certainly in the bag.
On the bend were the rider had crashed earlier, I was at the back of our group, about to rotate forward when my front wheel slipped away on some grease. No warning and I was over the bars. I landed heavily on my right side and felt an instant fire in my right calf. I lay on the raceway and couldn’t stand, so I dragged myself across to the bike like a wounded animal. It seemed the bunch were taking a long time to come through, but then I heard a shout of “man down!”. They meant me. I was sat plum in the middle of the track, I dragged my body up and limped out of the way just as they came through. My bike I dropped on the floor, I thought about walking back, but felt faint standing, my shoulder was in pain. I lay down on the damp grass and started cursing, fuck, fuck, fuck over and over. I had worked too bloody hard to get into the break, and though I hadn’t been the strongest man there, I felt I had deserved to cross the line with them, probably a bike length or two behind. Now I felt cheated and my shoulder definitely wasn’t feeling right.
Wayne pulled up with another rider, both had been dropped. The other rider went to get a car and a few minutes later Andrew drove over to pick me up, well prepared with an old sheet for the seat covers. Back at HQ, Pauline, the first aided fussed over me, the attention was welcome, but having been in the break, so close to the end of the race and then to crash out, little could appease my disappointment. And neither was the excitement over, on the final lap another crash had taken out a half dozen riders, Alan amount them, but fortunately all limped back under their own steam.
So I’ve been writing this in an empty A & E waiting room, on a dull Friday morning, and my suspicion has been confirmed, I’ve got a fractured clavicle.