E1234 | Colin Lewis Grand Prix | 23rd August 2014
- Weather: sunny and dry
- Course: smooth
- Highlight: my best performance yet!
- Strava activity
A sunny Saturday and we’re at Torbay again for the 9th round of the Kalas South West Women’s Series.
It’s always nice to race somewhere you’ve been before: you already know the course, prevailing winds plus mundane things like where the toilets are. It all helps you focus on having a relaxed warm-up and preparation before the race.
When we arrived at the velo park we could hear the youth races were well underway. The sun was shining and lots of people were milling around enjoying a day in the sun, on their bikes, with their families.
I trotted over to the Sign-on area, handed over some cash and my licence in return for a race number.
Back at the car, and I did my warm-up on the turbo whilst Tom and Badger did some sunbathing. I timed it just perfectly, having just finished my final sprints as I heard James calling on the tannoy that it was five minutes until the start of the women’s race.
I arrived on the line ready to roll and after a short briefing from the Commissaire we were underway.
The first lap or two were pretty steady whilst no one wanted to take up the work at the front. Things then sped up a bit, although one girl came down in one of the hairpins, splitting the bunch – I was behind, and although I avoided the crash I had to do a little cross country to go around, followed by half a lap of full gas to catch on to the head of the race again. This got me breathing!
I found that for the rest of the race, although there were regular injections of speed and the odd attempt at a break, I was able to smoothly follow any moves, remaining in a strong position near the front of the bunch.
Three laps to go and the pace dropped as everyone wanted to conserve their energy for the final sprint, leaving no one to do the dirty work at the front.
By this point in the race we’ve all got a good idea of each other’s capabilities; when certain riders make a move you MUST respond, others you know are short lived and will just come to the front, do a few turns and then fall back.
In the final few laps everyone is watching everyone else. If you hear someone changing up, so do you.
As we came across the line on the penultimate lap I was boxed in, surrounded by riders on either side. Whilst this was good from an energy conservation point of view (a strong headwind on this section) it was certainly less ideal if a move went as I would be relying on the riders around me to respond promptly, allowing me to also follow.
By the following corner I was up in third wheel, ready to following anything in front and hoping no one came past strong from behind.
Coming into the final hairpin the speed really ramped up and the bunch strung out. I was third in the front group of four as we took the final hairpin. Virtual first and second were tiring as they went into the last bend but I was already maxed out as the fourth rider came around all of us to take first. Second, third and fourth place were all very close, but I didn’t have quite enough left to tip the balance in my favour and had to settle with fourth.
Things to takeaway: I can really tell that my recent work on the turbo has paid off as I was able to smoothly control my position in the bunch and react to any moves without having to expend undue energy getting out of the saddle. Starting my sprint a little earlier would have given me a podium position (or if the Commissaire could have moved the finish line 1 metre further away!)
A full photo set of the day’s events can be found here, taken by Primal.