After getting lost on my first race and finishing last on my second it was with a bit of trepidation that I went back for number 3.
The route started off with a climb up Moritz Rd, which is where I got dropped last week and then four laps(for my group Div 2) of a loop around Schuller and Brookmans Rds before heading back down Moritz to the finish, a total of 43kms.
It was a handicap race and I was in the second group to set off, so a nice head start, with one other rider who happened to be the only rider I really knew, Clem Kelly
We set off swapping a few turns at the front but I gradually pulled away from him and decided to ride alone and get the Moritz climb over and done with and try and make some ground on the two groups setting off eight and fourteen minutes after me, I did say it was a nice head start. My plan, if I had one was to try and do a couple of laps of the loop before they caught me and then try and latch on to the back and stay with them if I could.
The first group of about six caught me climbing up Brookmans Rd on lap two and I managed to hang on for 5 kms or so before the dropped me on the faster downhill run, on the next lap another group did pretty much the same, I put the hammer down on the downhill run and stayed closer for longer but they slowly made ground on me although I maintained the gap on the climb, possibly even getting a bit closer before losing sight on the loop section.
With about a dozen or so riders in front of me, and no one else in sight, I decided it was time trial mode and put in as much as I could for the final lap and the run home down Moritz. I was passed by a few groups of Div 1 riders, resplendant in their blue helmet covers (ours were green) and whilst there was no chance of holding a wheel it provided a target to chase and kept me working hard.
No other green helmets passed me before I finished so i reckoned I was about 12th out of 27 starters, so I was pretty happy with that. I was stuffed, average heart rate for the race was about 180 so I'd given it pretty much all I had.
I hung around for the finish and chatted with Clem, telling him I was happy to not finish last but found it hard staying on a bunch as they flew past me. They did the presentations and when they called out the winner of Div 2 I nearly fell off my chair, Patrick O'Kane. It seems the two groups that passed me must have been a lap behind me at the time (did I mention the great head start) and I'd come in first in my group.
I was delighted but also a bit concerned that I might be seen as having held back in my last two races to burgle this one, Not the case, and now the handicapper has a bit more info on me I can't see it happening again. The prize money will end up back at the club as I'll put it towards a jersey, because I'll be back to try and stay on those bunches that pass me for a bit longer next time.
(The GPS seemed to have a hissy fit, I did complete four laps, the short cut on the map shows a 25% climb on Strava and no roads, unless that bit was all a blur, because I was pretty knackered by then)