Another ace day of racing today. The dispassionate would argue that it didn't mean anything - no league points on offer, no "national" status...just a category "c" event, but as those of us who love our bike racing know, every opportunity to get between the tape and chase/lead/go side by side through the corners is meaning enough. When someone announces that they're setting up a race (even more so if it's at a "new" venue) it's got to be worth a look, no matter whether you'll get some extra numbers on an end of season spreadsheet or not.
There weren't huge numbers of entrants - the juniors, seniors and us V40s were all in one race, which suited me just fine, I'll race anyone, me :) The only downside was that we were to race for the "full" 50 mins rather than the usual "you're getting old, just race for 40". Not a downside as regards how I'd ride (the longer the better as far as I'm concerned, in fact I miss the slightly longer races sometimes) but I hadn't told Angela, in the pits!
I took a "safe" approach off the start - all I've said about every race being important in it's own way is true, but I was in no mood to get all "argy bargy shoulders"and was as interested in staying upright and not mullering myself or the bike so close to the end of the season and was happy enough to see some of the young whippersnappers shoot off as I let my legs work they way up to temperature. I picked my way back towards the front as I learned my way round the course at race speed - I'd done a practice lap and tried the fun section round a BMX track a few times, gently, but at full pelt I expected everything to ride differently.
Ground conditions were pretty dry, but the very cornery 2nd half of the lap (as opposed to the "also very cornery" 1st half!) still had a few slippery tricks up it's sleeve so I decided discretion and concentration on technique was more important than all out, risky speed.
Round the BMX track berm - this being CX we obiously went round the "wrong" side of it for some off camber fun. Pic by Ellen.
Gaining places and losing places throughout the race made it fun - always someone to chase (even if it was in as measured a way as I could) and always someone keeping you honest. I managed to get round with just one "off", which, in a way, helped as I was just starting to get caught up in "race head" mode - seeing the two riders ahead of me on the course a few corners further up the track and starting to ponder if I should totally drop the hammer and go all out to try and get back to them (and we'll never know if I had the ability... ;-) ). I settled back down and got back to trying to ride all the corners cleanly - every bend being a chance to improve what is definitely my weaker bit of race craft.
I crossed the finish line as the v40 winner, which is always lovely, though in my mind as it was one race I actually finished 3rd, behind two seniors. Happy with that. Happy with the chance to get some full on cornering practice done on what turned out to be a really good fun course and happy to have got to race, full stop!
Thanks and thumbs up to the organisers who got a really good day for beginners and seasoned racers set up at a brand new (hopefully soon to return...) venue - I think everyone enjoyed it, thanks to Angela for putting up with the extra 10mins (and the hours beforehand while I mess about, for that matter) and thanks to Lee @ Transition who's set me up to be able to spend a race concentrating on cornering and smoothness, while still flying round at the pointy end :)
More corners next week, apparently. Last round of the NW league and probably the last race for the BBB branded jockey wheels on the Planet X as they're at the "seize solid between rides" stage. Lets see if I can give them a decent send off :)