19 April 2013

Coffee, Cross-winds and Cycling

So things have been a little frustrating recently, I'm feeling pretty fit, not on top form, but pretty fit but there are no suitable road races within half a tank of petrol of me that I can actually compete in. It seems the choice is between the, previously mentioned, narrrow 2/3/4 crits or getting put in world of hurt by the local Elites. I'll take the latter with a side of cross-wind. Last weekend I was over in Sheffield doing another E123 race which featured 25mph wind, 40mph gusts and a very stong field. On the finishing straight of the 5.5km circuit we were in the right hand gutter trying to find shelter from the wind, God knows how the organisers felt after the pre-race breifing featuring the line "Anyone consistantly using the right hand side of the road will be pulled out." Within the first 10 seconds of racing after the neutralised section we were, as a whole peleton, hugging the right hand curb. Thankfully the traffic on the circuit was light and the NEG and Marshalls went above and beyond to make the race as safe as possible. So a massive thank you is in order for everyone involved in organising the Sheffrec Road Race last weekend.

Unfortunately the quality of the field at Sheffrec was a little too good and despite leading the race in the opening laps eventually I settled into the pack and found that gaps started appearing all over. After 5 laps I found myself chasing wheels, filling gaps and generally in alot of trouble. The decisive break was made with over half the race left to go containing Dean Downing, eventual race winner Tom Bustard and a fine collection of Prem Calendar jerseys. I found myself in one of the many groupetto's. For some reason alot of my companions felt the need to attack each other with no really wheels to chase and no prospect of catching the lead group which was fast coming round to lap us.

After being lapped the officials, rightly, pulled us out and I got to watch the final few laps wind-swept, in relative comfort from the finish line with a bowl full of pasta. Not a perfect finish I'll admit but the right thing to do for the safety of the race. A brave and risky attack from Bustard at 3 laps to go worked out in his favour. As the remains of the break watched each other taking turns to surge and sit up he pulled out a convincing lead of around 30 seconds and upon finishing collapsed in a heap on the, until recently unused, left hand verge. Downing convincingly won the bunch gallop with Tom Murry rounding out the podium.

On a less racing based note I'm really grateful to everyone who reads this blog especially the people I've had giving advice and offering a place to stay in France. Dave Bees deserves a mention in particular, thanks to his first had account of racing over in Brittany I've found some big motivation to train harder than usual this year. For those who haven't seen or heard Dave is currently endvouring to open a cycling orientated coffee shop called "Cafe Velo" (does what it says on the tin). Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Everyone knows cycling wouldn't work without coffee so it's looking like a banging idea already. Best of luck.

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