The milton keynes national had moved location, from the city center road circuit, to the MK Bowl. it was a quick circuit with tight turns, and a draggy, shallow climb that would shake of a few, but it wasn’t steep enough to fully sort out the pack.
I did a couple of laps around the circuit in the wet, so knew what to expect in the race. I made sure to check all corners and straights so I had confidence in the course, as in the wet corners are more sketchy, and despite the forecast for the weather to improve, it was best to have knowledge.
I stayed calm during the day, and made sure I ate and drank, and covered any nerves by talking and having a laugh with friends. This helped, and I made sure I wasn’t rushing at any point.
After my warm up I felt strong, and on the start line I was in a much better mental state than any previous national, as well as physical condition. I was well prepared, and knew I could do well today.
I started well, and was able to make my way up the pack a bit so I wasn’t directly at the back.
I was still feeling strong up to about 1/2 hour in, where I could tell my legs were starting to feel the race. The race was much longer than any other national I had done, and at about 1/2 hour to go I could really feel the pain in my legs, but I knew that I had to hang in the group, as i was doing well and was on target for a high placing.
Towards the end of the race several strong riders were going backwards, and unable to keep the high tempo that we were racing at. In the end there was only a small pack of 40 riders or so, from around 100 starters. The speed picked up, and the race lined out, which was made worse by riders not being able to hold the wheel, meaning I had to close several gaps to stay in contention. In the final lap I was caught behind a couple of crashes, ending my hopes of a high position in the sprint, but nevertheless i came across the line for 35th, which was a massive improvement from the MK National last season.
The race could have gone better, but it was still an improvement, and that was key. It gave me more confidence in bunch racing, and reassured me I could compete with the best in the country, and have the endurance to do it. It was a great day apart from the rain in the morning, and everyone had finished the race safely.