E1234 | Rockbeare Road Race | 14th September 2014
80km road race tomorrow. This could be interesting! #BetterAtCrits
— Alice (@Tiny_Pigeon) September 13, 2014
As predicted this race was not easy! All my training is geared around short sharp efforts and races that last no more than 1 hour. I never expected today’s race to be easy but wanted to see how I would fare on a longer event.
The Rockbeare Road Race is one of the top events for women in the South West. Now in its second year the 80km race draws riders from across the region (and outside) with the added incentive of a substantial prize fund. A men’s 3/4 race runs in the morning over the same course and then the women’s headline event is in the afternoon.
We arrived reasonably close to the start time as I decided that the neutral start would be sufficient warm up and because the race was so long it was unlikely anyone would go off hard in the first lap. Whilst waiting for the rider briefing and roll out I caught up with Michelle Forster (London Phoenix) who I hadn’t seen since last year’s Westminster Grand Prix.
It was a 10 minute uphill climb for the neutral section before a rolling start over the line in Marsh Green. There were three lead cars plus the commissaire’s car at the rear along with several NEG motorbikes – being part of a road race cavalcade is always exciting.
The first lap was steady tempo as we got familiar with the course and everybody got warmed up. The circuit was rolling, consisting of a long (10-12min) climb followed by a long, straight and fast descent with a few false flats in between.
Primes were offered on the 2nd and 4th laps. This meant there was a considerable surge as we came round for the second approach up the long climb. I stayed near the front of this but after nearly 12 minutes of 110% of my threshold I was really suffering. I dropped further back in the bunch and recovered as hard as I could on the descent and flatter sections in an effort to be ready for the climb again.
By the time 40 minutes has elapsed I was really dreading the hill coming round again – I started taking energy gels just before the bottom of the climb to try to maintain my energy levels.
Four times up ‘Mount Vicious’ and I was losing contact with my group -the hill had made its selection, and the strongest riders were a minute or so ahead. As I dropped off the back of the group I didn’t panic too much as the long descent followed soon after, so provided I kept on pedalling I would soon catch back on. This worked a couple of times but finally I lost sight of my group on the climb and the commissaire’s car came past, leaving me a forlorn and lonely battle to the summit.
Now that the commissaire had come past me, I was no longer in the race convoy – the motorbikes were far ahead, the traffic no longer controlled and the general public were now in between me and the race. I gritted my teeth and went for it down the long hill. At moments my bike was bouncing around like a bucking bronco as I hit 42mph. I overtook two cars to reach back to the convoy. The commissaire car moved over to let me back in and I hooked on the rear of the group, trying to regain my composure in time for the next climb.
Of course this was pretty futile as what remaining energy I had was now all gone with this final effort, all my water was gone and I had eaten all my energy gels. As we came past the HQ I decided to pull out and waved the commissaire to come past.
Although I had hoped to finish this race I never thought it would go wonderfully. However, more importantly, today did show me that my training is working. My efforts up the long hill broke my previous 5 and 10 minute power bests so I have a clear ideas of where I’m at, what’s working and what I can do to improve.
Results (Top Ten)
All photos by Ann Owens