Castle Combe Easter Classic

Well this was by far the worst weather I have ever had to race at Castle Combe, massive respect to all those who worked with Andy Cook cycling to put on the event, cold riders and volunteers at an epic days racing. This year I was racing in the E/1/2 race, a planned 90 minutes plus one lap for a bonus, with three primes throughout the race.

Due to my sister racing I was at Combe from the early morning, so was seen as very keen by people in the sign on when I signed on over 3 hours ahead of the race! Due to the nature of the day we went out for lunch after Laura’s race, then back to the circuit in plenty of time.

I got kit on ahead of time and went for a ride on the roads as an extended warm up, and did a couple of loops of a local road circuit, before returning to the circuit to see what the state of play was. The racing was delayed by about half an hour, so instead of standing around for more time I just went for a longer ride, getting in another road circuit!

With that rideI got fairly wet, so then went back to the van to change into dry kit, have two massive numbers pinned on me, and then out to race.

The race set off and pretty much stayed at 30mph for the duration, despite the horrendous conditions. With the weather the bunch riding was very good, with everyone realising that dangerous riding would just leave to crashes.

Junior gearing made the race fun, from the start it was straight into the 52-14, and I didn’t change gear again! partially due to freezing in the rain, wind and spray and partially due to not having the need to, spinning the gear out on occasions.

As the race went on i started to get colder and colder, and despite riding up and down the bunch to keep warm, i was starting to shiver on the bike. Having just come back from a cold I didn’t want to push it, and definitely didn’t fancy a bit of hypothermia, so after a few laps of shivering I pulled myself out of the race, and then tried to undress in the van… zips are impossible when you can feel your hands and are shaking like a leaf!

Whilst the result wasn’t there, this was definitely a learning moment, where I realised that when conditions aren’t good I need to increase they layers and take extra precautions, such as a gilet under a skinsuit, or even racing in a warm winter training top! Just a bit of learning for the future, and some quick riding, all looking good for the next couple of weeks racing, next up a TTT on Sunday!

Cadence Junior Road Race

This was the first junior national series event of the season, and it was a very early start for me and Mum, made even earlier by the clocks going forward, so even less sleep. Waking up at what was 5am felt like the middle of the night!

We arrived in plenty of time, even having enough time to make a few phone calls after someone might have forgotten a race license, and then forgot all about driving instructions! And a good time to make it on a road with no turning point for 5 miles, which was just great.

Warmed up and felt ready to go on the new bike, felt fast and was looking forward to racing it. After a lengthy rider briefing with numerous mentions of no crashing, bit of an omen, and safe riding we were set off.

Neutral zone was carnage, lots of nervous riders fighting for 5-10 places at the front, as that is where the race is won, doesn’t matter about the next 70 miles. Despite the briefing we had 4 crashes in 4 miles, even one on the climb! The race was then re-neutralised over the climb, and we were given a commissaire warning for riding, with those that crashed allowed to get back on to the pack.

I  was at the front for opening parts, and it took me a while to get used to pack again and the movements, but I had it sorted after a bit of riding. I missed the break, despite being sat at the front and seeing it go, but there was still 50+ miles of racing to go, and I just didn’t think it would last the distance. Of course the pack sat up due to big teams having riders up the road, and despite efforts from myself and others trying to attack to bring it back it just wasn’t happening.

I then stayed near the front, but then got caught in a mass pack pile up! I wasn’t far back at all, with those riders at the back able to get off, walk through the crash and get back into the bunch! I then spent laps chasing but just losing time.

I completed the race, although died with 1.5 laps to go.  I was pleased with my effort in the race, but know I had good legs and it could have been massively different if i hadn’t thought too much about the break or had been in a different place in the pack! A good opener to the season despite the result, definitely have some good form to take into the next few weeks and sustain into Junior Tour of the Mendips on home roads in a fortnight.