Perfect conditions, Two TCC riders, Graham Crow and myself. Plenty of pain dished out by the former, but no breaks. Graham may have finished in the points and myself top half, safely in the bunch.

First race of this long-awaited (by me) series organised by Bill Butterworth TCC. Very poor race preparation – a medium-fast 30 mile club ride followed by a 2AM bedtime meant I already had my excuses. A short ride over from work and lucky number 13 for the series at sign-on and some welcome faces who I raced with last season. A briefing, two Commisaires in the peloton of about fifty riders and the ladies racing to the rear.

We start at a pedestrian neutralised pace on a one hour plus five laps race. Speed mounts and Graham attacks. And attacks. The best I can do is try and stay near the front for some blockage, but the peloton sweeps past me each time. Pedal Heaven have a good showing and the same tactics. Graham looks very strong all through the race, whilst I am hanging on wondering whether late night mudguard delivery and replacing that ripped bar tape really was sensible preparation.

I’m hanging on as the laps count down. Sol and Jason are cheering on from the bend and making me feel better. We lap the ladies twice, the first time with riders too close. The bunch is more sketchy than I remember from last season. One or two poor lines and riders on the grass. A friend is a dairy farmer, and he said once the old ladies are let out after a winter in the barn, they go a little crazy. This might be the first race of the season for some, and I think it showed.

Light is fading and three laps are called. Pace rises, Graham is near the front and I am dropping back. A gel has helped but I can feel the tiredness in my body. I’m mid pack as the bell tolls. First bell since the crash and I sense some internal hesitancy but press up regardless. We attack from Brian’s Bends and I am holding position. I roll in top half, with Graham in or near the points. 268 Watts Normalised Power. I’m pleased with that effort. A short ride back to the office for another hour of the day job before the ride home.

The next race is 18:45 on Wednesday 30 April. I’m away that week, sadly, but commend the series to anyone old enough to enter. In the meantime, the Tuesday series is now well underway.

Daren

PS Congratulations to Steve Pellowe for securing a well-deserved third place at Brighton in the Apres 4th Cat race today.

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