If I had to sum up the race in one word… it would be “disappointment”.

I arrived early at the venue, my start was at 08:30. After signing on and warming up for a while a roll out to the start was underway. I knew who to watch out for, these included a rider from Pedal Heaven and a Team Corley cycles.

The course was 6 laps of 20km each lap was rolling with a couple of tricky sharp left handers and a long drag climb which got steeper as you ascend. This was also where the finish was.

During the roll out the heavens opened, the rain was biblical for most of the race. Training had gone well, and I’m in good form going into the race, it seemed slow to begin with. I sensed the peloton was nervous and perhaps the rain was affecting some.

I identified that the attacking points in the race were likely to be the climbs, I was right. 1st lap I sprung into action and attacked to gap the field. I identified who was strong on the climbs and who was able or willing to chase. Once at the top I settled and was joined by 3 others. Working together we formed a breakaway group. But I have to say, the commitment was not shown by everyone. We stayed out for 2 laps, but the peloton rejoined us. Once caught, a flurry of attacks came, leaving me no choice but to chase them. Riders were being canny timing their attacks to work each of the strong riders down. I felt strong, and I know they knew it. During lap 3 I forged an attack on the climb. This time the elastic snapped. A group of approximately 12 riders away including myself. A few of us worked on the front to ensure this breakaway stuck. Lap 4 on the climb I seemed to go backwards. The break group edged away from me and gapped me significantly. I couldn’t understand it. I was feeling so good. Something had gone wrong! I realised my rear brake pads were rubbing, reaching back I released them. It felt like someone had given me a push! I then began to chase back. I was joined by another rider who I thought may assist, but didn’t, and just tapped through.

Next we were joined by the 2nd group. This group was so disorganized. I managed to establish some sort of cohesion, but I knew I was providing most of the work. I had to. I shouted things like, “This is the nationals! Are we racing so we don’t come last!” I honestly could not believe the mentality of the group. In fact going into the final lap I could see the breakaway! But with 20km to go I knew it was impossible to bridge on my own.

The breakaway group then edged further away and out of sight. My group then started to play tactics, with nearly all either attacking poorly or not working on the front. I wasn’t interested. I don’t fight for 12th place. Typically 2 riders went off the front of my group and stayed away. The rest of the peloton seemingly expecting me to chase it down. At the finish, I trickled over the line losing a couple of places, but still in the top 3rd of the finishers.

Disappointed with the race, but at least I gave it everything I had. If it wasn’t for the mechanical issue, I think I would of got a top 5.

Still, onto next Sunday. The National Masters Circuit champs at Hillingdon, where I hope things are better.

Come along, Bill needs helpers.

Graham Crow

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