First race of the season done and dusted…and it’s awesome to say it was a good one!
First early start of the year, but surprisingly it didn’t feel out-of-place and I was straight into my pre race routine, something i had planned out very carefully. On the drive there, the threat of rain made the pre race feeling quite tense, but finally the sun broke through and we were in stall for a particularly mild weathered Hardriders! Having collected my team kit the previous day, it was the first outing for my new Ellmore Clothing Aerosuit. I have to say top marks all round, fitted wrinkle free and was very comfy throughout the race. Very thankful to have such good kit for the season ahead!
As my pre race plan dictated, I started my warm up in plenty of time. Headphones went in, got myself in the right mindset and all focus was now on the race. I like to prep with one or two bottles of SIS electrolyte drink, a product I have always used, which made me very pleased to hear they would be provided our nutrition for the season. From here on out, there was no chatting or faffing around. My head was in the game and the legs happened to feel pretty good. It was clear i had recovered pretty well after such a heavy block in Calpe. With nothing more than a quick, quiet word with Lloyd, I rolled off to the start line.
Everyone had told me about the dreadful road conditions to be expected at Hardriders. But I always took it all with a little pinch of salt as I had no experience of it myself. But it’s fair to say they were not wrong! I knew it wasn’t long until the first climb, so i got myself into a rhythm nice and early. We were treated to a tailwind for the first 25km, which made a few of the climbs easier, but only made the descents even scarier. A Shiv with a disc is not known to be the best handling bike in the world and on some of the rutted descents that certainly showed.
Riding mostly on feel, with nothing more than a quick glance down at the power numbers, I felt like I was riding well, the sensations in the legs were good considering what id been through this winter. Once i reached the main turn in the course at 26km, turning into the wind, i knew it was a mere 10km to the finish and i had to start tightening the screw. This got harder and harder and i was probably paying for the efforts on the early hills. But i had to just keep digging in. As i sailed past some club riders up the final climb into Essendon, with a few cheers from the crowd (yes! a crowd on a TT! madness!). I dug deep for the final few kms, trying to just up the pace as much as possible. The sight of the finish flag was bloody nice that’s for sure!
After rolling back to the HQ, the joy to see I was sitting fastest was massive! Something I didn’t expect at all. I went to the race hoping for a top 5, podium if i was really lucky. Too see i was currently leading with only Lloyd to come in! Like a miracle!
I would like to say a big thank you to all the organisers and marshalls! Safe to say the best organised and marshalled event I’ve ever participated in. There must have been 3 or 4 marshals on every junction, with prior warning on dodgy parts of the course too. It made the experience even better. So a big thank you for such a great event! You will be seeing me next year!
Also a thank you to Cycle Team OnForm and all their Sponsors for the support this season. Heres to many more great results!