Adam was pretty kind in his summary of the team’s failings at the Scorpion CS race in our last blog, we screwed up royally! But it’s all learning and if we can make that many mistakes in our preparation and stick with the pack for ninety odd kilometres, then entering another Nat B race that’s only eighty kilometres has got to make sense, right? Well it convinced me, and I packed my bags and headed to Liverpool to race the first event in the Maxxis 4 Racing Team Road Race Series to be held on the Pimbo industrial estate.
Given that Adam and his partner are both from Liverpool, we took our ever understanding girlfriends with us and crashed at his parents on the Friday night, early to bed, eating at a sensible hour, only a glass of wine, it’s like we were taking the lessons learned down in Somerset seriously. Certainly meant I woke up feeling far more refreshed; with the extra time we’d allowed ourselves to get ready and over to the HQ, I almost felt relaxed.
This time we drove to the HQ, probably a little later than would be ideal, most of the numbers had already been collected and the empty loo rolls suggested a host of nervous / excited riders were already ahead of us in their pre-race prep. The two items that I’ve learnt are worth more than gold on race day morning; safety pins and bog roll. The race bag now contains both, well baby wipes actually because they seem more in keeping with the adult size baby grow skinsuit I squeeze into.
The Pimbo circuit is a one way road around an industrial estate, super wide and super fast, if you take a wrong turn you’re riding on the M58 but not even a toddler would make that mistake. Just a 4 mile journey from the HQ we drove over like all the other races seemed to. Arriving with just under half hour to spare we had enough time to do a couple of recce laps and get warmed up. Despite it being a beautiful sunny day it was pretty fresh still at 9:30am and a fair few riders on the start line were still covering their numbers with gillets and jackets, showing their wisdom as my short warm up was negated by waiting quarter of an hour after the official start time for the race to go..
Adam didn’t seem to be suffering similarly, when the gun finally went he was gone, attack from the start, burn those matches. When he was reeled back, he went again and so this continued for the first 20 minutes, I wondered if he’d picked up a matchbook sponsorship he was attacking so much. The nature of Pimbo makes it feel a bit like a crit, albeit an 80km crit, and remembering the distance I decided to keep my nose clean for the first half hour and take stock of who was who and how the race might pan out. As it turned out it was during this first half hour that Adam helped initiate the decisive attack, dragging an Elite and a 1st Cat with him. Sadly for Adam his matchbook sponsorship didn’t exist, 375NP for 20 mins and he was back with me in the pack as another 5 riders bridged across forming a group that stayed away until the end.
Our race wasn’t over though, in fact it’s when the fun started. Pimbo is a great place to finesse some technical racing skills, the wide roads and speed giving plenty of opportunity to master feeding on the move and navigating through the pack rather than just smashing up the outside, the latter only at all sensible when you’re far stronger than the other racers. We were fully stocked with OTE gels from FuelIt, perfect for this kind of race, easy to consume and packed with 21g of carbohydrate; 4 of them, my customary bottles of squash and efficient movement through the pack I found I had the energy spare to contribute and shape the race.
Adam had similarly refuelled and recovered from his crazy first 20 mins, so at about the hour mark we were both at the front chasing down breaks, or getting in mini breaks of our own, this wasn’t Scorpion style clinging on for dear life, this was actual racing. Everyone knew we were only playing for the minor points, but everyone was still combative.
Twenty minutes to go I watched Adam attack with 4 other riders, all too familiarly the peloton just wasn’t letting it go and they never got more than 50 meters away. As a 10 mile tester I knew this was my territory for a final attempt too, so when we caught Adam’s group at the bottom of the only rise I played my hand and attacked with 2 other riders. I gave it everything I could up the drag knowing we could turn onto the descent and maintain whatever gap we’d created for at least a lap. Thankfully Adam had kept his wits about him and took control of the peloton, a handful of riders bridged across but the gap grew and was maintained at maybe 20 seconds.
Initializing the break
We rode ‘through and off’ for the remainder of the race, missing turns through exhaustion rather than for tactics, it was obvious who was stronger and the shouts of encouragement and advice told me they knew I was weaker too. As we got into the last 400 meters the cat and mouse began, stupidly I was sat on the front and was reluctant to slow down in case that’s when the sprint started, within a flash though it was gone, I got out the saddle for show but it couldn’t be labelled a sprint and I rolled in at the back of the chase for 18th. Sadly not for points as it was too short a distance to pick up proper Nat B road points… which can only mean we need to enter a longer race next time 😃
Adam about to take control of the bunch
**USE THE CODE MALDER10 AT CHECKOUT TO RECEIVE 10% OF AND HELP SUPPORT MATT AND THE ZEROBC LADS**“