BUCS Road Race 2012 - Brutal

Today's BUCS road race can only be described as brutal.
Of the 85 starters, less than 30 finished and I reckon I was probably around 23rd.

I made some mistakes, I learnt a lot, I had a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to next year.

The race started neutralised up the first ascent of the one big climb on the course, and damn it was a beast. About a mile long and getting up to probably 15%, Harby Hill promised to break anyone that wasn't feeling on top form. The course itself was composed of 5 laps of the circuit, bringing it to 65 miles in total, and whilst most of the rest of the course aside from Harby hill was relatively flat, we also had a five mile stretch of exposed road into a headwind for one edge of the box shaped circuit.

For the first lap of the course I followed the numbers I knew were going to be good; such as Tom Last of Sigma Sport and the other Elite level riders that were in the field. I was fairly comfortable in the peloton, and although the speed was high it was manageable.
As we approached Harby Hill at the end of the first lap I was in a good position and as the main peloton broke in two I got in the front breakaway of about 14 riders and we got a reasonable gap. I stayed in that group for the rest of the second lap, until we approached Harby Hill for a third time. This time my positioning wasn't great, and by the top of the climb I was struggling to hold the last wheel.

Going round the corner shortly after the climb the gap between the break and I increased to about fifty meters or so as I slowed up with some bad cornering on the gravelly apex. Then the headwind hit...suddenly I was losing ground quite quick on the break. There were a few others that had been dropped on the climb and the three of us tried desperately to get back onto the break. For five miles into the headwind I think I tried, desperate to bridge the gap and not get dropped, but gradually they got further and further away. Eventually I sat up.

In time I was caught by the pursuing main field; now seriously depleted, as riders were dropping out left, right and centre. For the remaining three laps we worked reasonably well as a group of about fifteen riders, but there was no chance of bridging the gap to the front group that was composed solely of E.1.2 level riders. I did a few stints on the front, as in a group that size everyone ends up doing some work, but I could feel 'that' five miles alone in my legs, it had killed them.

Heading up towards Harby Hill for the final time I was towards the back of the group; I couldn't do it, my legs felt like Lead. Heart rate through the roof, I eventually reached the summit and the finish line towards the back, probably in about 23rd place I think, though the official results aren't out yet.

So no points, which is a shame as it was a great opportunity. But a fair few positives to take from the experience; I was just about able to hold that front group, and perhaps I could have done for another two laps if I hadn't positioned myself badly on the climb, or taken that corner badly. I probably should have sat up and waited for the chasing peleton as soon as the front group dropped me though, but it was too tempting to try and chase.

The legs felt reasonable, but not their best; a month of revising and little riding doesn't do much for long Road Race training. Perhaps I would have been able to do better on another day...it's hard to tell.

Overall though a seriously tough, but enjoyable 3 hours in the saddle. An average heart rate of 88% max for that three hours shows how hard it was! I learnt some more about the tactics and strategy of road racing and I certainly gave myself one hell of a workout!
I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do when I can concentrate more time on training after exams have finished in just under four weeks...


  1. Wow...that sounds like one really tough ride Tim....but hey...it's all great experience.



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