What's your first road race really like?

Mar 20, 2014
Posted by: kris
Category: Blog
Wansbeck CC Australian Pursuit was my first ever Road Race, I often thought about eventually giving Road Racing a go but didn’t think it would be this soon having only cycled for little over one year! It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision to enter after hearing a few others from the club were entering. Unfortunately I sent my application in late meaning I was a reserve and wouldn’t find out if I had a place until the day.

Come race day I travelled there with Mark Tully, having little or no experience of Road Racing we were both in the same boat, so going together helped settle the nerves a bit. I’m saying nerves but to be honest I was more excited than anything else, doing a few Cyclocross races over the winter gave me a bit of an idea what to expect. On arrival Mark was able sign in right away but I was left waiting till 30 minutes before the start to see if I had a place, once my place was confirmed it was a quick dash to the start and line and a very quick warm up before we started.

The Australian Pursuit is a handicapped race, meaning the Cat 4’s started first followed by the Cat 3’s and then the scratch group, covering 6 laps of a 12k circuit. My Goal before the race was to stay with the group for as long as possible, learn from it and hopefully enjoy myself . I had planned to stay towards the front of the group but to stay off the front for at least the first lap so I could settle in, especially since I didn’t have time for a proper warm up.

We set off behind the lead car and within a few minutes my plan went out of the window, I found myself on the front going into a brutal headwind with a heart rate close to my max and legs burning. I sat up and let a few riders through so I could try and draft them while I recovered, already the group had split, there was the main group which had maybe halved in size and then just a string of loan riders behind. I managed to stay on the back of the main group till the end of the first lap but when we turned back into the headwind my legs got the better of me as I watched the group disappear up the hill.

I carried on though and it wasn’t long till the Cat 3’s caught me, I managed to hang on to their wheels for a bit but my legs were completely shot and I couldn’t live with the pace, before long the scratch group came past me and they were really on the gas, luckily I managed to stay with them for long enough to get me back with another guy who had been dropped. I spent the rest of the race working with this lad, I say working but really I was just hanging on and taking the odd turn on the front when I knew there was going to be a photo opportunity or going past a crowd. I decided I’d had enough after 4 laps and retired to watch the end of the race and join up with the other Clarion riders, some of which had ridden up to support us which was much appreciated. Only 33 out of a field of 80 finished and only Mark T and Neil W from SCCC.

Overall it was a great experience I completed 2 out of my 3 goals and not disappointed at all that I couldn’t stay with the group, I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone and pretty sure on another day if I’d stuck to the plan I could have lasted longer in the group. My first Cyclocross race was the same, I went too hard at the start and suffered but learnt from it and had a much better second race. 

Thanks again for the support, not just those who rode 90 miles in awful conditions, the other Clarion riders who all gave great encouragement on the day!
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