They say that the art of coaching is performance through others. If that’s the case, then yesterday was an overwhelming success as six TCC riders took part in this first Cat 4 race of the new season. Lucy had done a superb job of setting up the organization and sign on. All 60 places sold out, with 10 people on the wait list. The second race is also sold out. This race has the potential for crash-fest carnage. New season, new racers – think Grouse released on the Glorious 12th.Myself, Clarry making the jump from ladies to mixed (not to mention 6x more riders), Chris in his second race after a fine outing in the last Points Grabber, and newcomers; Steve, Andy and Neil had all secured places. Plan is to ride safely, get used to the pace and close quarters and finish with the bunch.

Keeness was evident in the clubhouse. About 15 Dynamos had entered – a quarter of the field. The corridor looked like a scene from The Matrix – lycra edition, so Massimo from the Wheelers offered to combine efforts against this mighty showing of Mr Smiths. We’ll be taking them up on that offer in future races. Onto the track and a few tips on position and gear selection as we take a few laps.

Pre-race briefing revealed the level of race experience; half of the riders had raced less than five times. First race for about a tenth of the peloton. Plenty of familiar faces with a good turnout from Thames Velo, the Wheelers and of course Dynamos.

As warm up finished I spotted Neil and Andy arriving late at the clubhouse so went back to collect them and a third new rider all in their first race. We rode around to the start with my coaching tips, only to see as we come down the finish straight that the riders have already gone! Half a lap down in your first ever race is not a great start. The four of us rode as a group but could not catch the peloton. So we take a lap out – disqualification effectively, and join the back of the peloton on lap 3. No problem, this race is for new racers to gain experience and I’m not chasing points.

I sit at the back with Clarry and Neil helping them to settle in, Andy looks confident moving towards the middle of the packed bunch, Chris is riding well and Steve is on the front looking very strong and doing too much work. For the first race of the season, discipline is not bad. A few brake squeals (Left Hand only please!) And some hold your lines, but laps pass and we remain crash-free (unlike the thirds).

With 15 riders, Dynamo seem incapable of organization or through and off, I move onto the front but it is herding cats. There is a reason for practicing on all those club rides, and this is that reason! Steve joins in with a couple of others but it looks like there will be no breakaways today.

Five laps to go and i feel pretty fresh, the Dynamos take the pace up with 10 on the front looking to breakaway. Steve is with them and I call for Andy to go with them too. A lap of so later the Dynamos – pretty much all of them – seem to fade and fall back littering the peloton with tired riders that Chris is now negotiating with vigour. Even as a team they could not work together. Two laps and I position to outside right about 10th wheel. More acceleration for the bell and the rear of the group starts to fracture behind. Up through Brian’s bends one last time and Chris is passing riders but is not going to go too early. We sprint from Bus Stop and I’m feeling OK – passed two riders to claim fifth and Chris sixth. Dynamo has four in the top ten.

Of course I’m disqualified. But I knew that from the off. Fifth place for Chris means five BC points and half way to Cat 3. All the other TCC riders finished with the bunch. Hilights over tea were just that; finishing a very crowded race, safely, and at good pace.

Well done to all riders. It’s a big jump from club rider to racer, but three more riders from TCC have made that jump this week. And well done to Clarry stepping up to mixed racing. Cat 4 races are mixed and the pace is not excessive, so ladies, feel free to join as you won’t be alone in the peloton. If discipline remains as high as yesterday then it will be a fine series. You can also enter yout first Go-Race ladies only race next weekend as part of the series.

I stayed on to watch the E123 race where TCC had four riders including Emma. Pace looked fast, a collarbone was broken during my tea and cake, I hope my cheering helped, and there was a big crash on Brian’s Bends on the penultimate lap – sounds like Cat 4 ;-). Others might like to comment, but 10 TCC riders on the first race day of the new season shows that we have a good presence.

Next week’s Cat 4 race is also sold out, Dec 21 is still open if you are quick at RiderHQ. I’ll be away for the 28th but will see about New Year’s Day. But I won’t wait if you are late next time!

Kind regards,

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