Race Report: Winchester Car Park Crit... Guess Who's Back

This afternoon the Wightlink-LCM Systems race team travelled to a car park in Winchester to race...
Yes, we literally were racing round the South Winchester Park and Ride; on a tight, short and wind-swept course.

After finishing exams this week I've had a few nights of celebrations and it would be fair to say that "some" alcohol was consumed. That, plus the fact that I haven't raced for 6 weeks, meant I was slightly unsure how my body was going to function in a short, sharp E.1.2. Criterium race. Anyway, here's how it panned out...

The race was composed of one hour plus five laps of the short circuit that took just two minutes to complete a loop. That adds up to a lot of laps. 

The race started incredibly quickly. Too quick for me. The first three laps were the fastest of the whole race, and I missed the break that went off the front in the second of those laps. Partly it was because my legs just weren't ready for that shock after 6 weeks of no racing, partly it was because I started at the back of the grid... idiot.

Anyway, a break of five riders went off the front of the pack in the second lap, and by the time I had got to the front of the field, having spotted the move, I had one hell of a gap to bridge. Trying to bridge that gap was what I then spent almost the entire 55 minutes of remaining racing doing; off the front of the peloton, but not able to catch the five man break that was up the road.

In fact, the five man break was working so well that it managed to get a lap up on the field. Whilst I was sat half a lap in front of the main field for almost the entirety of the race. I wasn't without help, one of the elite level riders who was in the five man break, had then gone off the front again after the break had caught onto the back of the peloton with a lap up; and then had continued to work with me for the majority of the remaining race, and clearly went on to win overall, with a one and a half lap advantage over the main field.

To put it another way, what was meant to be a crit, turned into effectively a two-up time trial for me and my break away companion. Holding off the main bunch for 55 minutes at an average speed of 25+mph (which sounds quite slow, but considering the two minute lap had a very sharp 180 degree hairpin in it, it felt fast).

I eventually crossed the line in sixth place (because of the five man break up the road). It was one hell of a ride. I was rather annoyed at myself for missing the break, considering it turned out that my legs were decent enough to hold off the main field for 55 minutes, but that's bike racing. I'm back at the same venue next Sunday to race again, hopefully I won't miss the break this time.

The provisional 6th place gives me 12 more points on my licence, and moves me a little higher towards my 1st Cat. licence target. It is looking like it will be an increasing struggle to make the jump this year, due to the rather delayed start to the racing season due to exams, but I'm going to give it a decent shot. Great to be back racing again.  


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