First road race of 2018 was Perfs Pedal race. It’s a race that I have heard a lot about and seen lots of pictures of but until now been too young to ride. This was my first race as a junior which also means my first race on open roads. I was a little unsure about this, I was going into the race not knowing the unwritten rules that people follow but also how close to breaking the written ones people would go to, say overtake on the wrong side of the road. Under 16 riders are very relaxed and or even impressed about slightly dodgy moves that happen in the bunch to secure or improve positioning as it is what we are taught as youths however I felt a little more tension as we rolled out of the memorial hall car park. Quite a few of the adults around were a little uncomfortable when you came close and some strong language was used when people touched their breaks or moved unexpectedly. I was towards the back to start and the pace was slow with the commissaries car controlling the front of the peloton.
Moving up immediately was easier than I had expected with people still blowing away cobwebs from the winter. When restricted to the roll out speed there are always awkward movements as people have much more control over what speed they are going compared to the bunch to navigate however less control over the bike this opened gaps and spaces but some risk is needed if you want to take them. I managed to make my way to the front before the first corner. I was sitting comfortably in third place taking the first left hander approaching the climb that has split the race in the last four years now (from what I have heard) I stayed in that front five to ten riders as the gradient kicked up and kicked out the saddle. I was still fairly comfortable when hitting what appeared to be the top of the climb. Breathing deep, legs feeling sore but for what was talked about as the hardest point in the race I felt ok.
I had a saw chest the week leading up to this race I knew that it would get to me at some point, and looking back on it now I wouldn’t have ridden but as I said it was quite an exciting race to open the season and I was banking on the small chance that I would be feeling better on the day. Once over the climb we hit cross winds this really broke the bunch into pieces. I was sitting in around 8th position but having to dig quite deep at this point. This level of exertion would have been fine a few days back but my chest couldn't take it. It’s a problem I have had in the past causing many dissapointing results and today it left me flying back through the 2nd group 3rd group 4th group.
I found a group that I could cling onto while I caught my breath and cleared my nose (Yum) however at this point there was not getting back in that front group. I got comfortable with my chest not bothering me with the slightly reduced tempo that was being set. And I started to find my rhythm again. The front group was too far off now but working hard in my group was good for now getting a race out of what was left of the peleton. Pushing it up the hill on the 3rd and 4th lap meant I slipped off the front with a few others closing the gaps to small groups that had been distanced by the leading group and engulfing them into our crew of around twenty.
I made it to the last lap still feeling really strong and fully recovered from my earlier escapades on the first lap. I stayed close to the front waiting for the right-hand turn off the course up to the finish. I attacked our group with around 800m to go and managed to hold them off to the line taking 37th place really not what I wanted. But the best I could do considering.
My legs couldn't have felt better all day causing no problems however it was my cold that let me down. Its easy making excuses about my performance so now it's time to prove it was far from my full potential with some races later this month.
Next race – Season Opener SEERL 25th February