Crystal Palace 2nd June 2009

“Tis a beautiful night for a kicking” I twittered.

10876047 I was right on two counts.  It was a stunning summer’s (ok technically late spring) evening and if anything a too warm.  DaveM and I cycled up straight for work and got our race numbers.

Alas I was also right on the second count too – I got a kicking!  After the last outing when I felt strong in the bunch right until the end and was possibly a touch unlucky not to get a placing in the top 10 I was feeling pretty hopeful. 

Off we went – 33 laps planned.  There were so many riders that it felt impossible to make any progress through the bunch so I patiently sat in to see what would happen.

I was even more hopeful when the pace for the first couple of laps felt comfortable.  The first bad thing to happen was an involuntary trip through the shrubbery on the climb on the back part of the circuit.  A rider a couple of places in front had a ‘moment’, which caused the rider in front of me to brake hard which forced me to take evasive action.  I was forced off the track and into a bush but fortunately I managed to recover back to the track in one piece.  Though I didn’t appreciate the effort trying to get back the places that I’d lost.

From this point on the race felt hard.  The pace quickened and I just couldn’t get comfortable.  It was depressing sitting in the bunch feeling that all  I could manage was to barely keep pace.  The only place where I felt strong-ish was on the climb at the back where I seem to have better than average pace. 

DaveM did well to hang on for as long as he did but bailed after about 10 laps having lost sight of the bunch some laps before.

I settled in but could tell that I was labouring.  I expected the pace to drop as it had in previous weeks but if anything the pace quickened.  I came out of the back at about 20 laps but decided to press on in case the pace dropped.  With what felt like a herculean effort I managed to get myself back onto the main bunch.  However, this was to be my final act of defiance – by lap 25 I’d had my chips as my whole body gave out on the climb.  I coasted back to the start/finish line and packed.

So, my first DNF.  This was a bit disheartening.  Despite these races ‘only’ being for training, I do care where I finish.  And I certainly care that I finish at all although I’m not prepared to cruise round once I’ve been dropped getting in everyone else’s way!

There was a nasty looking crash on the fastest bend involving a few riders including cycling ‘royalty’ Matt Seaton.  Some poor chap had his posh Cervelo frame broken too.  Hearsay has it that the accident was caused by a backmarker which does not surprise me.  There seem to be a few riders that turn up and pay their tenner to get dropped after a couple of laps, then hang round and cause trouble – what’s not to understand of “stay right”?

Anyway, I shall not bore you with my excuses.  I rode hard – average speed was just over 39km/h and my average heart rate 176bpm which is about 95% of my max – the latter of which I also hit!

I felt de-hydrated during the race and had a headache after I finished.  So I should try and take or more fluids in the future I guess.  On the plus side my ‘cramping’ left calf didn’t  play up during the ride so that was something.

Next week will be better… :-)

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