Today I competed in the central division road race championships. This race is an E123 race, so being a cat 3 I knew this was going to be tough. My main event this year is the Ras De Cymru which comes at the end of July and so a lot of my training has been orientated around hill work. With all the hills training I had been doing I was confident I would be able to hold my own on the two main hills up Ashendon and Dorton hill, however I was afraid I may get distanced on the descents as I am restricted to junior gearing (52×14).
I’ve got to say I was looking forward to this race as it would be a great test of my fitness in the lead up to the Ras and I know I still have a lot to learn about race craft. I went and rode the course on Thursday and Saturday to familiarise myself with every hill, turning and sadly pothole the circuit has to offer.
I had a good nights sleep on Saturday and woke up feeling refreshed for a tough day of racing ahead. After a large bowl of porridge I set off to Chearsley, the sun still hiding behind the clouds but I was optimistic it would make an appearance as all the weather forecasts had suggested bright sunshine for the race. I arrived at HQ in plenty of time and after pinning my number to the jersey and timing chip to my bike I got on the turbo to warm up with 20 minutes to go until the race briefing outside the HQ.
The race took in 8 laps of a very tough hilly circuit starting in Chearsley and making its way up to Ashendon, around and up to Dorton, then back through Chilton with a final kick to the line just outside Chearsley. As this meant the course was roughly 80 miles I knew it was vital to keep well hydrated and fueled throughout the whole race.
We rolled out at 12:00 and after a few hundred yards of neutralized racing the race was well and truly underway. The racing was very aggressive for the first two laps with many people trying to establish a breakway but nobody wanted to let anything get away. When we hit Dorton hill for the third time a small group of 10 riders opened up a gap on the front of the group, and after a very strong turn from Ollie Blagden (also HWCC) I went solo for the last bit of the climb and crested the hill with a gap of 200 yards or so to the leading group. I was joined by a strong Luton CC rider and after some hard turns we managed to bridge to this front group. The caliber of rider in this front group made me confident it was going to stick. Our stay here didnt last long though as after coming over the small kick to the line at Chearsley we (the luton CC rider)and I both found ourselves in no mans land between the front pack of 10 riders and what we thought was the main pack coming up behind us. We soon joined the chasing group of 15 riders coming up from behind and after a few laps of hard riding we could not close the gap to the front group. We were then told they had 1min30 over us and after the team cars of the front group were let through we knew it was going to be next to impossible to get back onto them. I made sure that I drank and ate very well throughout the race and with Sam (brother), Emma Wood (fellow HWCC team mate), Dad, Paul Morissey and Tim Osbourne I was handed a constant flow of energy drinks and gels, thanks guys!
Our chasing group of 15 was slowly whittled down to only 9 when we passed the bell to signify the final lap. Our group stayed together until the final ascent of Dorton Hill where 4 riders from our group managed to roll off the front and sadly as only two of the five I was left with wanted to work they quickly established a small gap and we could not pull them back. By this point i was beginning to feel my legs cramping up and on the final short sharp ascent up to the line I rolled in 3rd from out 5, finishing in 17th position which I am very happy with.
The race started with about 65 riders and only around 20 finished the race. So being the only junior and cat. 3 to finish, I am delighted to have picked up some points. This shows how brutal the course really is!
Thank you to big event for putting on such a smoothly run and well marshaled event, and to my family (*even if you did nearly get me disqualified!) and HWCC friends for the support as it really does make a difference.
*I received a bottle on the right hand side of the road, unaware you are only allowed to on the left hand side- luckily the connoisseur realized we were unaware of this but informed us as to the situation.
By Ollie Hucks
Full race results can be found here;
and more photos on the promoters Facebook page here;