Some start sheets are more ominous than others. Looking at the names and some of the clubs for this race, a cat 2/3/4, it was definitely at the more ominous end. The NCRA clubs were all pretty well represented, but to make up the numbers there were a good bunch of riders wearing the jerseys of Planet X, Corley, NFTO and Spirit. On the start line a lot of them looked frighteningly slim and young and no doubt quick. Still it was the warmest day of the year so the weather was nice.
From the club there was just me, David P and Simon M. We started from the Southwick HQ and took a right for a neutralised first ascent of the courses long drag of a climb up to the water tower. Over the top of the hill and the race was on. Not surprisingly it was fast. In fact too fast for some. Simon was among the first casualties getting dropped as we climbed for the second time. I kept trying to move mid bunch, but every time I looked behind the cushion of riders which had been there before were gone. The next climb wasn’t any easier, plus the heat was getting to me – the previous weekend I had been walking in Peak District snow, now I was racing in 25 degree heat with only a slight breeze to buffer the humidity.
I got round for a couple more climbs and then my legs decided to overrule my brain. Over the course of the next lap I joined up with a couple more riders. One of them, I never did get his name, gave us a commentary on how hard the start was and how did the leaders manage to go so damned fast. A quick anecdotal analysis of the situation suggested it was because we had children, fairly demanding jobs and our training was only a half-hearted effort squeezed in between everything else. Oh, and we’re probably old enough now to be their fathers. At the time it was reassuring, but on reflection it doesn’t account for some of my team mates with similar afflictions but considerably better performances, though I don’t think the substituting cats or home improvements for children is entirely fair.
We dropped one of our three. The other rider with me was from Peterborough. We pushed each other as hard as we could, but with a couple of laps to go we were lapped by the lad from Spirit and another from Corley. For me that was my cue to call it a day.
I rode up to the finish line and met up with Simon. The race was in pieces, the two lads off the front had nearly two minutes over the small chasing bunch. There was a third bunch of a suffering dozen and behind these were the remaining stragglers.
The Spirit rider made the final climb look easy and took a convincing win.