Saturday 24 October 2020

Photo of the day - 24: My first road race in a gazillion years!

Racing at the Richard Kell memorial race, Abingdon Aerodrome (photo: Steve Cartmell)
As we're having a different kind of year I thought I would do things differently. One of those things has been doing time trials. I did one in July, and I have even taken to doing hill climb races. Another thing I have done has been to restart road racing. The last time I did one of those was in 2013 at the Tameside circuit in Manchester. That was just a one-off I was doing after a gap of almost three years. So even then it felt strange. But I managed to hang on to a group. The era when I did road racing regularly was between 2003 and 2011. So this time, doing a road race just felt like a very new experience. That thing of racing around a windswept racing circuit, or in today's case an aerodrome felt quite alien. But I have done it before, so I figured I should be able to do it again - except that I am 10 years older, on the wrong side of 50 and racing against women less than half my age. There was a full field, consisting of around 25 women, with a sizeable chunk of the field being from Cowley Road Condors Cycling Club, Abingdon Race Team, and other local racing teams. 

The format of the race, organised by Abingdon Race Team, was a bit different. Rather than it being a one-hour race around a circuit, it was three mini races, each lasting around 15 minutes with a 15-minute rest in between each race. The first race I did, I was dropped immediately. The second one, I stayed with the bunch for a lap and then got dropped and rode with a couple of girls for a few laps before dropping back when I realised I just didn't have the strength to contribute to the through and off. On the final race I was dropped part way through the first lap and rode out of my skin to reach another rider who had also been dropped. I edged closer to her, but didn't quite manage it. So it's fair to say I have a lot of work to do. What I realised is that I am not race fit. However, there is nothing that beats this sort of riding as part of training. So I do feel motivated to go back and do more races to get back in the swing of things. I'm sure it's still possible! I must say, there was a very friendly atmosphere at the event, and the women were encouraging, asking me where I was from and if I was new - which I might as well have been! Some even invited me to joint their team. That was jolly nice of them, though I guess given where I live I should sign up with a local outfit. But even though I was a bit rubbish I still feel motivated to do more. 

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