Springbank was my second race of the year and I needed to redeem myself after last year’s DNF when I got dropped with 3 laps to go.
The 2.2km course winds through Springbank Park in London and is very narrow in places, with high curbs that can make it difficult to navigate in a pack. I witnessed two crashes in my race last year, and saw another rider launched into the trees after missing the first corner. They say the course is flat, but for someone as gravitationally challenged as myself, I’d say there is a hill. I admit it’s not long or steep, but I would credit it with my demise in 2013.
Weather conditions were looking good. When we lined up at the start line it was around 8 Celsius and the sun was shining. Last nights rain was drying up and only a couple of puddles remained. I was positioned in the front row, determined to stay out of trouble and avoid falling behind. The horn sounded and the race was on. I survived the dreaded first corner and still had a good position along the river. Every time we hit the hill, I was out of the saddle, fighting to hold my place. This strategy was working. By staying at the front I was not losing as much ground from the accordion effect. The only problem was that I ended up ON the front pulling several times… not a good thing unless you are in a breakaway, or have a team to work with.
At one point this effort took its toll and I went backwards for a while. I also found myself in the wrong gear on one of the times up the hill which sent me to the back of the line.
I was working hard the entire race and there were a few times when I thought I might not make it. There were several attacks but nobody got far or lasted long. I tried to go with a couple of them but I just didn’t have the strength. The peloton wasn’t going to let anything get away anyway and we were heading for a bunch sprint. The last lap was hard. Everybody was fighting for position. I had lost some ground coming into the final straight and I was starting to fade. With about 200m to go, I was pretty much done but I got out of the saddle and sprinted with everything I had. When I got to the line I was in serious oxygen debt and thought I was going to have a heart attack but I managed to gain a couple of places for the effort, finishing 11th in the M3 category. I was really happy to finish this one… and to get my best result so far. I am feeling stronger compared to the same time last season and the spin classes over the winter seem to have made a noticeable difference.
Looking forward to the next race, but
for now I’m off to Belfast for the start of the Giro d’Italia 🙂