Race Report: Portsmouth North End Summer Road Race

It seems depressing to say that today was my first road race of the season, but it's an unfortunate reality; things have been a bit slow getting started this year, with a focus on endurance miles for the Dragon Ride and a number of early season set backs. Anyway, today was the first road race of the season for me, and it didn't go too badly.

The race was hosted by Portsmouth North End Cycle Club on the Milburys Circuit just south of Winchester; it's an undulating circuit that for the most part can be big-ringed, but has a few deceptive climbs and fast descents. I was joined by other Team Wiggle riders Ben and Andy, and it looked set to be a good day's racing, with the thunderstorms holding off *just*.

Things started out well, I knew I was tired from the outset; it's been a long week and the very long Round The Island race day last Saturday is still hanging over me to be honest; but despite that I felt reasonable and was holding position within the group well.

Two riders went off the front from the very start, and despite knowing I probably shouldn't, I played a fairly active role in trying to get the bunch moving to pull them back in. I attempted a few breakaways too, but none stuck, and in the end I moved further back into the pack to wait and see if things came back together.

Whilst I was a bit further down the group, Ben got in a break of 10 riders, which got a decent gap on the peloton; I sat steady in the main group not wanting to chase down a team mate.

Ben's break went clear, well clear. I made a few attempts to break off the front solo and try and bridge across, but it wasn't going to happen; I could feel the tiredness now and the sudden burst of power needed to get off the front really wasn't there today. Not many in the pack were willing to work to chase the group down though, and it looked like it was set to stay away.

At about 80kms in (it was a 100km race), things started to go a bit more wrong, when a few groups of two or three riders went off the front. Again I didn't have the legs to go with it, and ended up sitting on the front of the heavily depleted peloton, churning away for far too long in a futile attempt to try and reel the breaks back in.

Eventually the final bell rang, we went round for one last lap, I tried one more break off the front of the peloton, but blew up (even more). I eventually finished 17th, in an extremely depleted field that had started out as 80+ riders.

The positives...
  • Considering I felt tired going into the race,  it was good to at least finish when the attrition rate was so high. 
  • The tiredness also goes a long way to explaining the lack of 'jump-start' power that I had to go with breaks, though I expect that is also something that is down to a lack of racing so far this year. 
  • I felt good for the first half of the race, and it was just a build up of fatigue that eventually got to me.
  • Ben came second and won two primes! Chapeau! A great result for Team Wiggle.
  • I get to do it all again next week on the same course in the Sotonia Road Race. Hopefully I'll be a bit better rested.
  • It's all great training for the Ras de Cymru that is in a few weeks time (a five day stage race in Wales).
Bring on more road racing... it's a LOT more fun than circuit racing and car park crits.


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