Castle Combe E/1/2 Adults

I got to Combe and signed on in the E/1/2 in plenty of time, so that I could prepare. I asked other riders about it, and got some advice for the race having never done it before.

I was a bit nervy, but this went away during the warm up, where by the end I started to feel quite good. I made sure that I didn’t rush.

Once underway I made my way to the front early on, and stayed there as long as I could. The gearing was my main issue, I was able to keep up, but when the speed hit 55kph, it became difficult, and it felt like I was sprinting.

I tried to hide from the wind, and stay concentrated throughout, although sometimes I had to be in the wind.

When it slowed I moved up through, and held my own when it sped up.

A break went, and I was at the front, so ended up trying to bridge it. I ended up with a rider, but I was unable to close the gap, and it was stupid to try and do so and stay out in the wind.

I then returned to the pack, and clung on. This was the hardest part, and there was no let up in speed until the break was caught with 2 laps to go.

When it settled I moved up, and into the final lap I was in a decent position. By now I felt like I was close to being out the back. In the run up to the sprint I kept moving up, but the final sprint on youth gearing was amusing, and a few riders came past me.

By the end I felt like I couldn’t have kept doing that for much longer with that gearing, but I was extremely happy with my ride. I received plenty of help during the race, including another rider giving me a push to get back onto the wheel, and advice generally, which was much appreciated. It was a good ride and other local riders recognised that, and it was a massive confidence boost ahead of the national race at Hillingdon at the weekend.


National Youth Circuit Championships

On Sunday 10th June it was the Youth National Championships, held at Hog Hill circuit, in Redbridge. As the name indicates, there was a hill, and every lap of the course we would go up it, for a total of 1.5 hours, around 30 ascents of the climb, which peaked at 20% in places. It would thin the starting pack of over 120 riders out for sure.

Due to Laura racing earlier in the day, I was there about 6 hours before my race was going to start, which gave me plenty of time, so I inspected the course, especially the climb, as there was no opportunity to do a recon before the race. After that all that I was able to do was stand around, chat with friends and watch the racing, whilst hiding from short rain downfalls.

The volume of riders made the eventual sign on a lengthy process, and it being close to race time it was essential to be near the front of the queue. Once changed and with numbers pinned, there was time for a decent warm up, a chat with my coach, and then it was time to go racing.

The gridding system was annoying, with a lottery style draw, with my number being drawn out right at the back, making life hard from the start, but nevertheless I got going, and moved up on the climb, as even on the first lap riders fell away.

As the race wore on, the front pack narrowed down, and whilst it wasn’t like a steady family ride on holiday, it wasn’t unmanageable. The length of the race killed off riders, and with the warm temperatures it was essential to stay hydrated.

Towards the end only the strongest riders were left, and there can’t have been more than 40 of us, a massive decrease from the 120 starters. The race was crash free until this point, so people just couldn’t handle the speed.

In the final laps I lost concentration a bit, and ended up near the back of the pack, not the place to be going into the latter phases of the race. There was a small break up the road, which were being wound in by the minute.

The final lap came, which surprised me a bit as I didn’t think we had been racing for that long, and in the run up to the final climb i knew where I wanted to be, on the outside, as the inside was even steeper, and would just sap speed like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately the was a crash on the side of the climb i chose, and ended up going into the back of it, losing all speed, having to slam the brakes on, but still going into it. It meant having to get out of the carnage, and then try and get going, eventually coming across the line in 37th. Not a bad result, but it could have been improved so much without a crash and through having more confidence.

A good day out nonetheless, and it was pleasing to see that my endurance was there, even if the confidence wasn’t totally there. I knew I stood in good state for the rest of the season, and for the following year as a Junior with the long stage races.