After taking a couple of weeks off after the National Hill Climb, I was back into structured training by the start of December. My structure pretty much consisted of turbo rides and commutes in the week supplemented with long steady rides on the weekend. I’ve got into a good routine of 9-10 hours on the bike a week, which could be higher but of course it’s quality over quantity.
As the new year rolled around my mind started looking ahead to what my first races of the season would be. I live near East Grinstead (Gatwick) so my choices are Cyclopark, Hillingdon, Lee Valley or Hog Hill. With Hillingdon and Lee Valley being possibly the most uninspiring racing circuits around I immediately opted out of those, and I’ve always had my best circuit results at Hog Hill so it was a no brainer. I had fairly modest aims going into the race, with the initial target of making it round in the bunch, and if goes well hopefully grab a point or two.
The weather for the day was pretty much as you’d expect for the end of January – pretty wet and cold with some strong winds thrown in for good measure. The wind in particular made the race hard, and I was content to sit in the wheels and follow in moves of 3 or more riders.
There was a field of roughly 20 starters, half 2nd cat and half 3rd cat. The first lap was ticked off at a relatively steady pace until we got to the Hoggenberg and then the attacks started coming. There were a lot of attacks in the opening 30 minutes, but nothing sticking. East London Velo, the promoting club, were very active in this race and were rewarded with the win in the way of a solo break. In the end he must have had over a minute on the bunch as we could not see him, which deserves serious kudos as there some tough headwinds out there. That makes it two wins in a row for ELV in the series so well done ELV!
As usual, the bunch began to get more and more twitchy going into the final laps, and by the time we took the bell I was a little further back then I would have liked to have been. I was banking on the sprint starting 200 metres from the finish as that’s when the course kicks up and if coming from behind you can use the bunch as a slingshot to go past people. However, there was a surge in the pace at the foot of the hill, meaning we were sprinting on the flat a good 30 seconds before we hit the hill. I could not make up any places here but as the hill steepened I past a few riders to make it across the line in 10th place.
Not a bad start to the season, and I was happy to get off the mark with one BC point towards 2nd cat. Only 39 points to go!
Results can be found here – https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/167339/East-London-Velo-Winter-Series–4