With three races left in the last week of my season, all inside a week, it was time to try and use some of the form I had built up throughout the year. The season hadn't contained anywhere near as many races as I would have liked, so I felt I had to make the most out of these final few racing days.
It started with the Surrey League Handicap Championships, where there would be 65 rolling miles for the riders in the chasing groups, to catch the 4th category riders at the front. The initial chase never really got organised, despite my efforts to motivate everyone, so when Paul Pickup (eventual winner) attacked the Elite chasing group, I knew that was a move to follow. On a gradual climb, I set off in pursuit and, once I had reached his back wheel, we began working together. More riders joined us, and we were soon a group of 9, all working hard to close the 5 and a half minute gap. A touch of wheels in the break brought down 4 people, which I escaped with only a tyre mark on my right arm! The decrease in numbers made the chase considerably harder, but with just over one lap to go we closed the gap and joined the leading 3rd and 4th category group, with the Elites still chasing behind.
The last lap saw all 5 of us taking turns to attack the group, but the hardest moment was when all 4 of the other breakaway riders went off the front, and I had to gradually pull them back. I just about managed it, but at a cost. In the closing metres of the hill top finish the pace lifted and i could feel the cramp in my legs increase with it until the point were I was giving it everything to just get to the line. I ended up with 14th, which was slightly disappointing, but given the way the race turned out, not a bad ride!
The next race was the last of the Wednesday Mountbatten Circuit series, and there was a lot to play for in terms of the overall rankings, especially for Cannondale riders. This meant that for much of the race I was doing my best to make sure my team mates were in the best position possible. When, what seemed like, the decisive break went I attempted to bridge across. I made up a lot of ground quickly, but then, in the wind on my own, progress slowed. But I kept trying, and eventually got on the very back of the break. I was sitting there for a matter of seconds, when the last rider began to lose ground. As i watched this happen, I realised that I had enough to hang on the back of the break, but after the effort I just put in didn't have enough to go around him. So back in the wind for me, I again kept digging in and realised that the bunch wasn't much further ahead of the break ahead. So, without the help of a seven man strong lead group, I eventually managed to gain contact with the bunch to complete a whole lap extra on the bunch, to finish a lap up. I had a reasonable sprint in the finale to finish 8th in the race.
The third race was the Stockbridge Down road race, near Winchester. This race was 6 laps of a large circuit, that was windy and rolling, with a long climb to the finish. There was a great turn out from the team, with Jimmy, Mike W, Andy B and myself. We were all present at the front of the race a lot. I personally felt very strong on the climb, and was always in the first few riders over the top. The race was extremely tough, and the rapidly reducing size of the bunch was evidence of this. An early break meant that a lot of riders were off the front, and despite my best efforts to get away, the small bunch was extremely attentive! I put in a strong attack on the climb with one lap to go, which didn't let me get away, but did halve the size of the group. In the end I waited for the final sprint, and left it late to get 3rd in the sprint, 14th in the race!
All in all a good, enjoyable week of racing, with a few points picked up. The results were slightly disappointing, but I was very happy with the way I rode!
End of the season. Time to get stronger and come back in 2012 to do a lot more races!