Race Report – Velopark Paignton Regatta & Thursday Series

Torbay Velopark Sunday 7 August Paignton Regatta

For some reason I was more nervous about this race than previous ones. It would not be true to say I can understand and can control nerves before a race- if anyone has this skill please let me know. It feels like something that just happens- my heart goes faster, my mouth feels dry, and before this race I felt a little nauseas and rather dizzy. ( To be fair the dizziness may have been related to continuing my warm up in a tiny tarred space next to the track and going round and round, like a clock, on my bike.)

There was a strong headwind over the finish straight of the track, cycled anticlockwise. This made for some tough cycling.
I’m guessing the ideal place to attack in this race, is to let someone else ‘take the wind’ for the headwind section, sit second or third wheel, then at the last moment before leaving this section pull off and leave everyone behind, and the person who has led wont have the legs to respond.
I was very aware of this when I was leading cycling into the wind section, listening for the gear changes behind me, and looking for the charge ahead. Also keeping a bit in reserve to chase the attack down.

There were plenty of sprints off in the race that needed chasing, by everyone, but the memorable one for me was the one that occurred right at the moment described above.

From behind a sprint ahead, right after the headwind section. I was leading and had to dig deep to chase after. In my complete enthusiasm for the chase, and catching the wheel ahead, I ‘forgot’ to break for the next corner. I hit it far too hard and fast. At a certain angle of bike lean in a corner it’s impossible to break without falling. (best to break before a corner anyway, but my adrenalin had blinded me) So instead of this I straight lined it into the grass going right off the track into the turf. I had caught up- and then some- but I was on the grass. As it turned out it didn’t matter, I was able to get back on the track- somewhat red faced and continue without being dropped.

As the race went on, it became apparent that the group wouldn’t split. There were no big teams working together, but individuals, and the head wind was certainly playing a factor. Different peoples strengths could be seen. It wasn’t hard to see who were the sprinters and who had time trial skills. My thoughts turned to how to play out the finish. To risk going early…. or to wait.
The risk was the headwind. And going early but taking someone on my wheel would lead to being overtaken at the last moment.

As it turns out the decision was made for me. I had decided that I wanted to lead the second last corner. On the third last corner a person moved ahead, and I didn’t want to get stuck on the wheel so as they moved I followed then surged a bit. Led the second last corner, pushed though a crosswind, but all the time saving just a bit for the final headwind finish sprint.

I had no idea where the others were. In my brief racing introduction this year I have learnt never to look back- you look back- you loose. ( I learnt when coming second some months ago) Focus forwards.

Completely pushing for the line. Feeling my breathing effort use all my muscles to push and then push more. I didnt know if I was going to be over taken, or about to be overtaken- but it didn’t matter. What mattered was putting out all I had for that line.
And I think I did. And in fact I was first across it.

Thank-you so much to mdcc member Stuart who took some pics on that second last corner and of the podium. Its rare to get any pics, and the same winter photo of me on my bike has been used on every race report for some months, so heres a change of photos…
Happy days. 🙂 Thanks everyone.

Velopark Thursday 11 August

Up until 24 hours before this race there was only one entry to the woman’s race.

We need to support the races or we’ll loose them. As it happens we ended up with 5 women, and it was an awesome race.

Headwind blowing strongly again over the start/ finish straight. I made a nuisance of myself on the front. Pace was high.  We dropped and ultimately ( I think) lapped two of the riders. A group of three of us formed with two of us taking turns on the front. Then it was just me on the front with two on my wheel.

I wasn’t sure how much I would have left for the sprint finish. Leading the headwind section so many times had been hard.

I led it one last time on the final lap. Then gritted for what was coming.

Again not knowing who was on my wheel or how close , I just gave it everything to the line and crossed it first.

Having been in other races, at times, the person who sits in more than leads, to be in this race the person who leads and takes the wind was different. It was a conscious training decision for this race. One of the people behind me was restraining from doing anything on the front at all, I guess for their own training zone reasons. It was up to me to try and drop them completely – and I couldn’t. Despite lots of trying! Fun race and good training! Thanks everyone.


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