8th September - Kinross CC - Ochils 4th Cat Road Race
|Thanks to Ian Henderson for the photo.|
This was only my second road race and my aim was to ride closer to the front and try and finish with the bunch. I was feeling good in the run up but it's always hard to know how you will feel in a race.
After 3 or 4 neutralised miles we joined the circuit for the first of 7 laps. I had driven the circuit earlier in the day and it seemed really hilly but it didn't prove to be so bad on the bike. The circuit climbed slowly to Duncrieve before a fast descent into Glenfarg. In Glenfarg village it took a sharp left turn onto the Church Brae climb. A steep, but short, initial section was followed by a long steady 3-4km long climb. This descent was fast but well surfaced and not technical and a left turn onto a narrow road completed the circuit. I really enjoyed the course and it was well suited to me with over 100m of climbing each lap and a non-technical descent.
The pace felt steady throughout the race and I was able to stay in the first 10-20 positions reasonably easily. Each time up Church Brae I was able to move up to the front of the race. I was expecting that on one of the later laps someone would force the pace on the climb and break the group up but it never really happened. With hindsight I should have tried to make the race harder myself but that's easy to say now. I wasn't confident enough to try and go off the front as I'm not strong enough to ride in front of the bunch on the flat.
The character of the race changed on the final descent. Anyone who had survived the 7 ascents of Church Brae had a chance to win. Given the chaos surrounding me I decided not to contest the sprint and rolled in 20th, behind the solo winner in a bunch of around 25 riders.
Overall it was a brilliantly organised event on a good circuit. I'd definitely recommend it. If it finished on the climb it would be perfect.
6th October - SCX Round 1 - Auchentoshan
|Thanks to Anthony Robson for the photo.|
The first round of the Scottish Cyclocross series finally arrived and I was feeling more nervous than usual. The start sheet for the Seniors race had a different look to last year. Would that mean lots of new faces finishing ahead of me or more people to pass later in the race? I'd been feeling good in the last few weeks. Would that translate to a good race or disappointment if things didn't go well? When I last raced at Auchentoshan in 2011 I felt I struggled to get to grips with the course. Had my riding improved since then or was it just too technical for me?
The day started well. Parking was hassle free this year and it was good to catch up with lots of people. My pre-ride revealed a course that was significantly less muddy than last time I raced here and with some subtle but good changes.
All too soon it was time to line up at the start amongst lots of new faces. It felt a bit like the first day back at school and I'm sure I wasn't the only nervous rider on the start line. The start was a bit chaotic, the gun went almost immediately and a few riders were caught out. One of the main things I learnt last year was to be patient at the start, you can lose a lot more going for a gap than you can ever gain. If you are blocked I think the best thing to do is just to slot in and treat the energy saved as an extra match to use later in the race.
Coming out of the woods I was in a good spot behind Addy and Graeme Warren. Unfortunately Graeme punctured at the end of the first lap and that was the end of his race. My aim was to try and ride cleanly and make as few mistakes as possible and hopefully keep Addy within sight for as long as possible.
By the second lap I was following Addy, but was a reasonable way back and I was a similar distance in front of Tim Mackley (Deeside Thistle). That was more or less the pattern of my race. I was getting towed along a bit by the glimpses of Addy and fighting hard to stay in front of Tim. I managed to have a pretty clean race and keep the rubber pointing down.
One earlier than planned dismount before the burn, a brief tangle with the course tape in the finish straight and a 5 second stop to check my front wheel at the pits were the only problems. Given that it is a tight course in places I didn't have any hold ups passing people, everyone was riding really well which was amazing with so many new riders.
Unfortunately I also managed to hit something very hard at one point and put a sizable dent in a new tubular rim which caused an impressive brake pulse but the tyre stayed inflated.
Overall a great race which went better than I could have hoped. It turns out I can ride Auchentoshan after all and it was nice to have a race where everything clicked. Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement. Well done to everyone that raced, especially Maddy, Steve and Simon with their great results.
I'd also like to say a big well done to the organisers of a first class event.