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Taking it on the chin

On Saturday I had my first big race in a while, which was Noyal. This had an impressive start list of some of the top semi-pro’s in the country, and it was set to be a tough day.

I was really looking forward to this race, it’s one of the most local races I’ll do here, with many parts of the race covering my daily training roads. This gave me some advantage as I had some knowledge when I came across familiar climbs etc.

I got off to a very good start, making sure I wasn’t positioned too far back, didn’t do any unnecessary work, and kept an eye on the favourites for the race win. It was a very rapid start, averaging 46kph. I felt good, it was tough, but everyone was finding it tough at least.

Unfortunately I was caught up in a crash about 45km in, which was at the foot of what turned out to be the most important climb, as many splits occurred and this is where the breakaway got away, as well as the race being blown apart. Fortunately my crash was not bad, it was just a case of scrambling to find my bike, untangle it from the rest, and then find my team car to help me get the saddle straight again and get going. My handlebars were wonky but I only noticed that when I was riding again, and it was too late to stop again and fix it.

I spent the next 15 minutes chasing back to the peloton. This wasn’t easy since I had lost about a minute and the peloton were not taking it easy at all- they were trying to catch the breakaway ahead. I managed to weave through the car convoy to reach the back of the peloton, but I ended up having to do that again as the peloton sped up a bit too much for me so I then found myself 10 seconds behind, which then took me another effort to join them again. It left me feeling pretty exhausted, and I was really surprised to see that the pace was still very high. I didn’t feel too good so I was just trying to make the best out of the situation. I move up to the front half of the peloton when I had the chance, but I never really felt comfortable, and I just didn’t feel like I had the power I normally do. I eventually started to slip back through the peloton, and before I knew it I was fighting to stay there again. This was horrible as I had been riding hard for about an hour with no chance of easing up. After 75km, the elastic snapped and I was out of the peloton again. This time there was no chance of me making it back in. I gradually came to terms with this and accepted that it was just not my day.

I was happy with how I rode all things considered, it’s never nice having to abandon a race but it happens. Now looking to get the bike nice and straight again for Monday, which I’m now really looking forward to! It will have an even higher calibre of riders, most of the top semi professionals. In the meantime, time to rest up and prepare.

Circuit du Mené- Easter Monday

I was excited for this race, it had a lot of hype leading up to it, and it had a lot of big teams. We had an early start for the Time Trial in the morning, but fortunately I was one of the last on the start sheet so I was able to arrive slightly later than the others. As this was my first proper Time Trial I was prepared to accept that I will not have a spectacularly big result, simply due to the fact that I haven’t done Time Trials competitively before, and this was a new experience for me.

After getting through the time trial, it was now all eyes on the main event of the day- 136km road race, with quite a few big climbs too. I was well prepared for this, since Saturday didn’t go to plan, I was able to put all my focus onto this race.

We started with a 6km neutral depart, which essentially means just riding at a very slow/easy pace, however the pace didn’t start at all easy, and it was a pretty savage fight for positions. Going round a tight corner through a village I got taken out, but I was quickly back on my feet and waited for the peloton to pass before I joined the back of them. What was annoying was how I was near the front of the race before the crash, and then after the crash I’m at the very back, having to make efforts to work my way back to the front, which was much easier said than done. The peloton was very unnerving and there were lots of crashes, because everyone was chopping and changing lines.

Soon after I got back to the front of the peloton, I noticed my gears weren’t changing properly, and before I knew it I was stuck in one gear- my most difficult gear! I signalled for my team car, and decided we needed me to stop and get off my bike to identify the problem. Once we did this, we struggled to find the problem but it appeared that my rear derailleur (the component which changes the gears on the back wheel) was not responding to the gear shifter. This meant I had to abandon.

It’s never nice having to abandon a race, especially when you have good legs on the day, but it was just an unfortunate situation which I couldn’t do anything about. Crashing is a part of racing, and it happens to everyone- I just have to appreciate that I’m not hurt, and hopefully the bike will be up and running soon.

At least now I know that I need to have a spare race bike, as most people have at least one spare at my level, and it’s obvious why!

It’s definitely just been one of those weekends which I just have to accept and move on from. It would’ve been a great opportunity to get a good result, but there’s a time and a place for these things, and sometimes you just have to be patient.

I’m going to enjoy the last couple of days with family while they’re here, and get my bike back in shape so that I can be fully prepared for when my next race comes! I haven’t yet organised my race calendar for the next few weeks but that’ll be something for me to add to this week’s list.

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