A stunning crisp blue sky accompanied the pleasant drive down to the Preston Park velodrome in Brighton for the superbly organized Aprés – The Hot Recovery Drink Winter League Round 13.
I had still been suffering from a nasty, tiring virus, and had just spent a boring 36 hours in bed. However, I was determined to get some fresh air in my lungs so I decided to race.
It was great to see so many familiar Twickenham faces there already – Rob, Rich, Tim, Chrissy, Alex, James and Chris. Such a strong TCC representation, but with so many racers the Cat 4 race was split into two slightly shorter races.
My tactic for this particular race was to conserve energy, monitor any breakaways and be in the top 3 on the last bend for the sprint – if it came to that.
Breakaway after breakaway tried to beat the surprisingly draining wind along the back straight. If any had made it to half way around the track I would have jumped across. As it was I felt comfortable that this was not the day for a breakaway win, so I moved up a few times to test how easy it would be to move into my desired sprint position, but then with 3 laps to go I got boxed in on the inside. I took the decision to drop right back and drift across the back of the pack and move up on the outside. This proved to be a good move as at the bell I was up in the top 10.
The pace, as usual, got a fuel-injection and I clashed with an overtaking rider going into the damp berm and lost a few places.
It was all or nothing now so I moved right up the outside through the wind and at the penultimate corner I put the hammer down, came down the slight banking and moved swiftly into first place.
I think breaking so early surprised the bunch and I got a great jump. With 200 metres to go I have clear track ahead so I kick again and win by a couple of bike lengths, as I hear crazy screams from my family and club-mates in the stands!
The win promotes me to Cat 3. That’s now all 4 goals achieved for my first season racing on the road which is very pleasing.
A great morning of racing for me and TCC – 1st for me, 4th for Rob (including a progression to Cat 3) and 6th for Rich.