Sunday 27th September
This is the day that Twowheelarmy become a race team.
We have me racing in Cat 4 race and feeling good about the race.
The team has its newest member Clare of Clan Campbell
Taking up position in the Female race.
This is Clare’s first ever race, first ever experience of a what a Crit race will be like.
If this was a swimming pool, she is being flung off the 10 meter Diving board into shark infested waters.
Due to the low numbers of female riders, the race is run with an open field, Elite – Cat 4 Riders. There will be some tough opponents in the race.
My best advice is to try to go out fast and stay strong on the first lap. Hang with the group or back marker as long as possible. Then from there get over the 15 minutes mark, then the countdown to the checkered flag will begin.
The main aim for Clare would be just to Finish the race, no DNF.
Clare is eager on a Sunday morning and walks the course with her little mascot Mini one of her 3 little whippets. The other two, Medium and Large are away to their own race day.
What she see’s is a fast course with not much elevation but a lot of areas to take into consideration. Lots of little bullet holes in the park surface along with a massive bomb crater on an exit from a left turn.
Course length is roughly half a mile with all left-hand bends, some tight, some fast with the right racing line.
So we gulp down some caffeine gels and tackle bottles of water, try to keep our fluids up as it’s strangely hot today.
Clare rides the course to get a feel for it and also gets some inside tips from a race marshal.
Then before we know it is time to grid up and race face is firmly on.
I head back to little barking Mini, who can feel the tension and she’s yapping encouragement to her Mama.
Then there off, the field gets away clean, good old Mr. “I don’t want to clip in” appears, Leftenant Campbell keeps her head and peddles on.
From here on in her eyes have been opened. Clare is a gritty fighter who can hang on in Watt Bike sessions and is regularly at the front of group rides.
Crit racing is a different beast!
Within the first 2 corners, Girls from Johnston Jets are in control. Even opened a slight gap at the front. It was a dominating ride by one of the jets. Managing to lap the full field in the end.
Clare is now in a proper battle, a battle of the mind. She’s lapping about 1:26-1:30 but other girls have the advantage of the group working together and pull away, so from now on its a tough shift.
When in the theater of war, Battle Of The Brain. It is super easy to succumb to the Dark Side, pull over and finish. This is what the voice in your head is saying, your heart is telling you it’s a fight against the clock. Don’t give up, keep fighting those laps!
Clare with her grit and resolve gets on with the fight, head down, turns those pedals over and over, keeps adding up the mileage.
That’s how Twowheelarmy Roll. Fight to the end.
Laps are ticking by, riders keep going past her. It’s not about that anymore, it’s about the end game.
Hear the bell then the pain is almost up. Try to get her to hit the last corner fast, give a final dig for the line, last big push and she takes the flag.
Now she can ease up and take in that she managed her goal. No DNF.
Well in Clare you done well, done the team proud. You are a racer now!
Cat 4 Riders Ready!!
Was the call at the start line, I looked about and yup I have timed the warm up laps to perfection. Back of the group! 50 odd riders in front of me.
Get the whistle and were zooming to the first sharp left. Mr.”I am not clipping in” appears in my race too, manage to keep the momentum going and get clipped in ahead of the oncoming bend. It is a tight little curve, taking you into the narrowest part of the course. At this stage in the race, space is at a premium.
From the warm up lap’s I know what is ahead in the next corner, this is the Bomb Hole. Due to the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that has gone off here in the past. The only safe place to go is on the outside lose a few seconds but still stay in the race.
The bunch hits the long back straight, speed keeps building, I draft a few people surfing their rear wheel while one eye is on the lookout for a gap. The third corner soon comes up, Quick left-hander, I stay a bit wider losing the draft but manage to speed up, taking some positions on the space that is free on the outside.
It’s a quick little straight with another 90-degree bend at the end, I gamble and stay in my wide line rather than follow the bunch. Who stay left then drift over to the right, with me out wide I gain a position, more importantly, I have a better run into the corner.
Out of the corner, out of the saddle is the plan today. Pumping my skinny legs hard to move up. I can see the front of the bunch so I’m doing well in this first lap battle.
Now I am with the main group I can’t ease up or go backwards in the bunch. Have put some good work into getting here, don’t want to waste it, so now it’s time to sit in wait for gaps to appear, then move up to fill them if I can.
All is going well lapping in the 1:01-minute to 1:09-minute range, sitting 9th-10th position. Right in the sweet spot of the race, can see if any attacks come. Tuck in trying to save valuable energy. Laps along with the time are tumbling down, feeling strong and getting the flow of the course.
Handling the course well, know where I have to be and most of the time I can get the line I know I want. Pass the finishing line to knock off another lap, get on the inside to move up. By doing this, I have to gamble my position going into a narrow corner then into Skinny lane.
Balls! I have to tackle Bomb Hole head on, I have been boxed into the left, have to take the nasty inside line, look for some space on the left to dive for cover, there is none. SMASH, BANG PSSSSSST, my tyres take a beating, rear takes the brunt of it. In doing so, my rear wheel makes a beeline for the front wheel of the rider who’s drafting me. They touch, his front wheel rejects the advance of my Cosmics, It pulls away resulting in the rider being dismounted, meeting the tarmac with a thud.
Well, that was my race finished, I look around to see the Rider get up and looks alright, sorry fella! Check my wheel and seems good, tyre pressure feels good with the old squeeze of finger and thumb gauge. I manage to ride the next corner, feel the tyre bounce and know I have punctured, ah crap! Pull over at corner 4 and my race is over.
Roll my bike over to registration tent, hand over my timing chip while the bunch speeds by with 5 minutes of racing left. Clare is there and she’s more gutted than me, that’s racing. You roll the dice, sometimes it’s a win other times it’s a bust. I am happy with the way my race was panning out, take the positive that I was in the fight, holding a good position at the sharp end of the race. That’s all I can ask for and give.
That was the final road race Team Two Wheel Army will do this year. We move onto Mud Warfare. Cyclocross season.
Up next is
Also huge thanks to Dale Stiling for making up BRYAN THE LION.
Watch out for Bryan The Lion he will be in a lot more posts and social media.
Check out his amazing graphics and designs https://instagram.com/dalestiling/