Race Report: Frozen First Race of 2013

My first race of 2013 was at the Portsmouth Mountbatten track; Elite, 1st and 2nd Cat. racing in torrential rain, strong winds and freezing temperatures.... Ideal!

Getting the legs moving took a bit of doing; a few warm up laps before the race was not enough to prepare me for the onslaught that was about to happen. Nor was my choice of skin-suit, arm warmers and leg warmers a wise choice; I should have been wearing an Arctic jacket.

The race started much as I expected it to; straight in with the attacks, and they didn't stop coming. Break after break went off the front, I latched onto quite a few, and chased down quite a few; probably too many to be honest, I have yet to know who are the workers and will make a break work, so I found myself chasing down a few that probably in retrospect were doomed to fail.

After seeing my heart rate rocket a few times I sat in for a while, not wanting to finish myself off and not be able to finish the 1hr +5 laps race. Unfortunately I sat in at just the wrong time, and missed the break that did get away; a group of five went clear, no-one chased, I didn't chase, I thought it would get pulled back. It didn't. It got quarter of a lap up, half a lap up, and then a whole lap up, and safely latched back onto the main peloton. That was the first five places lost/decided then.

The rest of the race was quite frankly spent surviving; the spray and rain were torrential and the northerly Arctic wind was horrendously cold. The adrenaline kept me going; the race averaged 27mph, which in those conditions was pretty hard going.

When the five lap board went up the pace lulled for a moment; two riders went off the front; I followed, and for a while it looked like we might be able to hold off the pack. Fat chance! With a lap and a half to go the pack engulfed us. With a lap to go, I managed to struggle up into a reasonable position, and in the final sprint I held on to take tenth. A pretty solid result and gets me a few points for the first race of the season, so pretty satisfying.

To get an idea of the conditions, of the 30+ starters about 30% retired; pretty unusual for a E.1.2. race. When I finished and the adrenaline subsided I went into an uncontrollable state of shivering. I just about managed to crawl to the ferry, dressed in every bit of clothing I had taken and Jack's fleece. I subsequently called Dad to ask for a lift back home on the other side, my legs were like blocks of lead. I think I finally warmed up in a hot bath a good two and a half hours after the race had finished. At least it didn't snow like the Milan-San Remo.

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