6am on a Sunday in March isn’t my preferred time to wake up to wind and rain battering the bedroom window knowing I’m going racing, especially as Ste, Si and me had a 2 hour drive to get to the start!
So we lined up outside the HQ with team-mate Adam and old mate of mine Daz Acton, getting wetter and wetter by the second, fortunately Daz had his extra long shorts on this week, the hot pants being saved for sunnier days maybe. Ste and me being “a bit nesh” (Si’s words to me a few years ago) started in full legs, arms and gloves with me wearing a full cape under my jersey, two pair of gloves, two base layers, plastic bags over winter socks and oversocks and excellent Bioracer Tempest shorts and short sleeve jersey.
The race started after a 5 mile spin to the circuit, which in all honesty really wasn’t pleasant and for me the worst part of the day, what is it about IDIOTS who don’t realise NEUTRALIZED means IT’S NOT A RACE. I’m all up for racing as anyone who knows me, knows well. But if we’re racing, lets race, if it’s neutralized FFS DON’T BATTER IT AND THEN GET DROPPED SOON AS THE FLAG GOES YOU MUPPETS!!! So I was happy when the chief comm pulled in the flag and Garmins started beeping, we’re off!
Back in the HQ before the start Len’s briefing had been more akin to a Green Beret Sergeant’s pep talk, multiple and enforced warnings about standing water and repeated “You will crash” statements made the circuit sound pretty grim. Within a mile of hitting the circuit we all found out he wasn’t joking….
I felt pretty good and decided to make a race of it, going clear a couple of times in the first 10 miles but nothing stuck, Si was up near the front and Ste was keeping an eye on the rear of the bunch as he often does early on! Surprisingly though he appeared up front on lap 2 and joined me having a dig off the front, his second one stuck and after a few more lads joined him that was it, they were clear and going away. Within half a lap they were well out of sight so I figured I’d try and get across to join in the fun.
I got clear alone and still feeling good made it about half-way across to the 6 up the road, unfortunately it took a while but I realised after half a lap that I didn’t have Sagan’s legs for the day and chasing down a group of 6 doing through and off by myself probably wasn’t going to happen, I’d got well clear of the bunch though and didn’t really fancy going back. I sat up and waited until they appeared down the road as I figured I’d draw a few lads off the front and we’d have a better chance. Bonus! Si was already clear with two other lads! We joined up and started working well together.
After a lap of going fairly hard we hadn’t seemed to get much closer to the break, which was a tad disheartening, and the bunch hadn’t cracked so we were still well in sight. It wasn’t looking good for us, Ste however was having a great ride up front! With around 20 to go I figured severe action was required, the bunch was almost on us – maybe we had 5-10 seconds at most, I really didn’t want to start from scratch again so turned up the revs and the others followed. We pulled clear again, all working well and this time the bunch cracked happy days!
Unfortunately it was around this time Si started feeling nesh 😉
Half way up the main climb on the circuit I heard “FFS Craig knock a rev off!!!” I was surprised to turn round and see one of the Scottish lads and thought – “How does he know my name???” Only later realising Si had gone straight into reverse after shouting at me and was a hundred meters or so back! In hindsight I should have backed off and waited, we needed all four of us to get across and Si was clearly on a great ride up to that point, he might have recovered after a few minutes in the wheels.
So the three of us carried on, the other two lads happy to let me shelter them most of the way – it must be my massive build keeping them sheltered?? No matter, a lap or so later we’d made it up to the front to join Ste and the other 5 lads.
Almost like a switch, my legs turned to wood. Amazingly the two boys who’d been with me but rarely past me, suddenly perked up! Now 2-3 laps to go and the 9 of us instantly started messing around. Lots of shouting, the odd attack and more than a few apprehensive glances back to see if we were in danger of being caught followed.
With 7 mile to go we had a time check at 5 minutes from a marshal, I know not everyone heard but I wasn’t in the mood for sharing this good news as everyone was riding fairly sensibly at this point, really didn’t want to encourage any silly attacking!
Into the last couple of miles and apart from one lad who’d jumped clear it was going to be a sprint to the line between us 8. Ste and me are well known for our sprinting prowess, unfortunately this finish wasn’t going to enhance that reputation any further. The finish was wide, straight and flat. We both started our sprint from the back, and went backwards! Ste finishing a fine 7th and me 8th – unbelievably we both beat somebody!
Si rolled in back in the bunch, clearly feeling very cold and looking terrible. This is highly unusual, I’ve known Si several years now and been on some pretty intense rides with him in all conditions, he’s battered Ste and me all winter for two years and I’ve NEVER seen him even close to cracking!
We re-grouped after the finish to roll back to the HQ together, Ste was confident he knew the fastest way back so we followed the opposite way down the circuit back into the wind and rain, unfortunately a couple of miles later after asking a marshal directions it became clear we were going in completely the wrong direction, I’m sure Si didn’t mind too much as he didn’t say a word..
Si and me have suffered with red-eye since the race and Ste’s been diagnosed with Conjuntivitus!! He’s on these now to clear it up!
All in all I was happy with my ride, the form is definitely coming at the right time and I’m looking forward to the races to come. Ste and Si are going equally well!
This year Team Chronomaster has a few new riders and old faces returning, we’ve got new bikes, new kit, trips to Charity trips to Italy, Majorca, France and planning a California trip to the mother-ship (Specialized HQ) and aiming for another big successful season! Clearly I’m biased but there can’t be any better team around!
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