Now this is a race I have wanted to do for a very long time! So I am very happy to say it is my first experience of a UCI race and a classic style of race! That’s to say, long and fast!
I flew home early in the week, it was really nice to catch up with everyone. I’ve been following and everyone at home has been going really well this year, and that is really cool to see.
We travelled up to Melton Mowbray on the Saturday morning and I met with the team for the recon ride in the afternoon. It took us all by surprise with the severity of the sectors. But it became clear how important the positioning would be, with the roads being so rough and so narrow.
The evening was then very chilled out, the bikes were prepped and we were stuffed to the brim with carbs in anticipation for a big day out!
The race started with two laps of the reservoir before heading into the lanes and starting the onslaught of gravel sectors and steep bergs.
I got stuck in early on, getting into a couple of groups off the front, none of which stuck and then I ended up settling back into the bunch to try and recover. the break went and the bunch sat up and filled the road. This made it very difficult to move around the group and everyone was pretty much stuck where they were. The bigger teams lined the race out as we headed onto the turn off the main roads and into the lanes and very quickly onto the first sector. As we had been told, and as I found out, if you are in the second half of the bunch and someone ahead punctures, half the group comes to a stand still un able to get round the people stopped in the narrow roads. From here on it was a game of survival!
around 90km in as we hit one of the sectors I got a rear wheel puncture. Just as everyone had told me, getting a wheel takes ages. with the cars being so far back as they are unable to pass dropped riders. When I finally got a wheel, I set about the mission of regaining contact with the peloton. It took about half an hour, but I finally got on, even if it did burn all my matches!
After that it was just hang in as long as possible. Spending a fair bit of time in and out of the cars as the bunch was splitting and the cars were moving through. I finally lost contact with the bunch at around 130km but stayed in the convoy for a long time and was determined to get to Melton.
Gradually slowing down due to the crazy effort. There were people pulling out everywhere, taking shortcuts back to Melton, but I was determined to get to Melton the correct way. I rode the whole course, minus the final finishing lap, so 175km in total. And I crossed the line. So I can’t be too displeased with that for my first race at that level.
I have to say it was the hardest race I have ever done by a fair margin! But it was great to experience the level of racing I want to be competing at in the next few years. I have to thank Team OnForm for allowing me this experience!
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