words: Ben Ryder photos: Nick Ryder
My fourth race was a return to the Lee Valley for the third in the CC Hackney Primavera series. After competing in a few races I was feeling stronger and faster and ready to race.
0 – 2 minutes: Wait, no warm up laps? I’m screwed.
2- 5 minutes: The race accelerates after the neutralised lap. I knuckle down, determined to compete this time.
7 – 9 minutes: Pedal, brake, lean, pedal, pedal, break, lean. Racing in the bunch becoming second nature
10 – 12 minutes: A break goes. The bunch rides hard and swallows it up.
15 minutes: Woah! A screech of brakes, a crash narrowly avoided as a rider takes a bad line in the bend.
17 minutes: I’m confident, riding near the front, I feel like a racer now. A break goes ahead. I ride hard to join them.
18- 22 minutes: There’s a few of us here. We ride hard. I feel strong. Fast. Racing.
23 – 25 minutes: We are caught. My energy sapped. I feel slow, heavy. Immediately I’m at the back of the bunch. Stupid.
30 – 35 minutes: The race continues. I compose myself and move up the bunch. Riding hard
38 minutes: Woah! I hear a screech of brakes. Two riders hit the deck ahead. I avoid the crash and push hard to get back on. I don’t look back at the damage behind.
42 – 44 minutes: The race is nearing its conclusion. I’m at the front of the bunch. I ride hard, the bunch strings out behind. I’ve never felt stronger, fifty riders stuck to my wheel as I power through the turns.
45 minutes: Shit! This is hard. I round the bend onto the finishing straight still at the front. My legs are burning, my pace slows as the peloton bunches behind, afraid to work in the wind.
46 minutes: The sign reads five laps to go. I’m cooked, still on the front. The bunch flies past me. I hug the inside of the track but riders surround me as they pass. Shit, for a moment I fear a crash.
47 – 53 minutes: The pace is fast. Riders jostle for position. The turns are sketchy. Riders shout in the corners. I catch my breath at the back of the bunch,
54 minutes: The race enters its final lap. I look ahead, Tom my club-mate seems well positioned. I’m recovered now. Dam, there’s no space to move up.
55 minutes: I round the final bend at the back of the bunch. I sprint hard and pass riders. I cross the line 35th.
The two-man break crossed the line first, which just proves that it’s worth putting the effort. I was feeling stronger and getting to grips with the art of bike racing. Due to an injury this week I won’t be racing for a while but I hope that I can get back to it soon.