On Sunday 29th May I competed in my second ever road race, having only ridden at three crit. races before. The race was held at South Cerney, Cirencester and involved 10 laps of a 7km circuit against about 40 cat. 2/3/4 women. The circuit was flat but some sections were exposed to strong headwinds and crosswinds. This could have been a factor in causing a heavy crash on the second lap which I luckily avoided.
Most recovered quickly and sprinted back, a few joining our breakaway of roughly 15 riders. The others followed in a larger chasing group. Our breakaway worked hard, riding through and off, stretching the gap out to about a minute and a half. To make the race more exciting, there were points awarded for the first three riders to cross the finish line on laps 2, 4, 6 and 8 (worth £40).
I was physically pushed very hard, working at 90% (or more) of my maximum for the whole 2-hour race, so I didn’t attempt to win any points for the intermediate sprints. It was a tough challenge to catch the leading group riders after their sprint efforts and this caused the breakaway group to steadily disintegrate until only 8 of us remained. For the final 4 laps, the pace was relentless and every rider was required to take a good turn at the front of the group. Although exhausted, I felt I still had some power in my legs having kept sudden surges in effort to a minimum. I came to the final corner on the 10th lap and positioned myself at the front. Coming up behind the motorbike with the live-stream camera, I decided to take a tow and sprint into the town centre! I was still almost 400m away from the finish but kept low with consistent power and managed to win. It was an exciting race with fantastic atmosphere and local support – I am still waiting to use a short, explosive sprint but at the moment going long seems to be working!