By Jon Fowles
This was possibly the worst race of my year…
…On Sunday it was the Worcester St Johns Road Race, taking place on a mostly flat course with a short rise each lap and finishing near the top of this rise. Conditions turned out to be tough on the morning, with strong winds and a fairly warm day; and combined with a strong field it was going to be hard work!
I managed to stay out of trouble on the first lap, and got to know the course a little. There was a long exposed section with a strong cross-head wind where the race was likely to split, if anyone was willing to ride hard in the gutter, and this was where I suspected most of the attacking would happen.
On the second lap I started to try and open a gap up on the crosswind section, but unfortunately nothing appeared to be working. Riders were keen to close the gaps up, and any lone attacks quickly fizzled out with such a strong crosswind.
Around three laps in a small group had managed to establish a gap not far from the main group. I took an opportunistic attack and managed to ride across to this group, but as I got there all the riders appeared to sit up and slow down. Not content with this, I carried on past, and thankfully was joined by one other. Joined is probably the wrong term… he sailed past me, and I had to ride as hard as I could to even get back on his wheel.
I started dying a slow death from there on. We were joined by 5 other riders (thankfully), and started working together. With some very strong riders in the group, I was having a hard time doing any decent turns, and our pace was very high. We had no riders from Pedal Heaven or JLT Condor represented in this move, maybe it was a poor idea to bother doing any work when I was struggling so much.
We carried this on for a lap or more, but were caught as we came over the short hill. I was pretty much toast, and all I could do was hop back in the main bunch and hang on. At the same time, about 15 riders jumped clear of the peloton and waved goodbye. That was game over for me.
I tried to keep the pace up and help contribute to a chasing group, but nobody was particularly happy working together, and I was spending precious energy. Not long later, another group of 15 or so riders broke away. Double game over.
The race was in splinters. Despite having so many riders up the road, nobody would work together and everyone wanted to attack. Solo breakaways for 30th place can apparently be very enticing!
I carried on riding around until the penultimate lap, when I got a flat rear tyre. A satisfying end to my race. At least I made it back to my car sooner for a much needed bottle!