Sunday 26 th February 2012 saw the final round of the Thetford Winter Series. The week before the race I’d had a really busy time, getting organised for the Nottinghamshire School Games as part of my job (A bit like the Olympics only smaller :-)), so with a few 12 hour days and 250 mile round trip to Thetford, I really thought I had wrecked my chances of a good race.
This coupled with no training since the previous weekends 50 mile ride up and down the canals of Erewash (Lovely!), wasn’t filling me with confidence, in fact I was even thinking of not racing at all after pre-riding the course with my brother and a friend on the Saturday, and barely being able to keep up with them in places.
Still Sunday morning came and I got myself motivated, went through all the usual routines of making up drinks bottles, preparing a food belt and picking out my kit.
The weather was warm and many of the 600 riders were in short sleeves, the gun went off and I was soon pedaling like mad, and trying to stay far enough away from the guy in front and to the side, behind to make sure I didn’t cause an accident. I knew I was going to have to average a 30 minute lap to beat the bar, and I knew this was going to be tough going with the preparation I’d had (Not!), so I tried to maintain a good pace but also to reserve some energy at the same time, this seemed to work with the first 6 mile lap coming in at 27.45 mins about 4 mins behind the leaders, subsequent laps were 28, 29 and 30 mins, I was about 4 minutes under the 2 hr cut off which was a result in itself. I was determined to put in a good last lap a pushed as hard as I could although every joint, muscle and breath were painful.
Coming into the finish I knew a rider in my category had clawed his way back to me and was going to do his best to ‘Drop me’ in the last 1/2 mile so I cranked up the gears, got into a time trial position and pushed as hard as I could. I never looked round (A sign of weakness right!) but I could hear him panting, puffing and swearing, I managed to hold him off through the line, whereupon which both congratulated each other and collapsed on the floor.
The satisfaction of having finished all 4 rounds successfully and with consistent positions, the last one being my best (46th) felt good. Looking forward to Mud, Sweat and Gears in May!!
The moral of the story being “You may feel at your worst, but if you apply yourself that’s when you’re at your best”.