Sunday, 2 March 2014

Shang a Lang at Croft

Yesterday was a re-baptism of fire. Fire in the hole? No, Mr Segal; fire in my quads. Usually after a hard race, I breeze through the next 24 hours with no aches or pain. That is until the covert Doms squad creeps in the back door. This usually happens in the wee small hours, and by next morning I become wooden, animated and creaky. Hauling myself up stairs, levering my body up off the chair or supporting my legs with my arms when bending. Yesterday though, I ached as soon as the race finished...but why? Cause I was racing on a bike.
One of the newer members of the cycling club said he was riding at Croft. Another prospective member was going also. Croft is used mainly for motor racing.  A flattish circuit near Darlington it is (said Yoda.)  I thought I'd better join him (not Yoda, the other guy)
I wasn't looking forward to it. Apart from a short lived comeback 10 years ago on the bike, I haven't bike raced in earnest since the early and mid 80's. The thing about a bike race is if you stay in the bunch you get about 20% benefit from less wind resistance. But once you let a gap open, you lose that and then its 'bye bye baby' (as my once favourite group sang. I loved that tartan look. Which one was your favourite?!)
Anyway, when you're off the back, its a lonely world. Perhaps that's why sportives are so well attended as its easy like Sunday morning. Its not the case in a bike race. Eyeballs out.
After swapping a tube on the Condor, I loaded the crack road bike up into the car and took off, arriving in bright sunshine in good time.
There weren't many there.
It was just above freezing, but frost free thankfully. I met the lads and geared up, paying my £10 and nipped around the 2 mile circuit for a warm up. After the warm up I changed from my calf length tartan trews to lycra and on top to a long sleeve tracksuit. There was a nippy wind chill.  Around 30 lined up. Quite a small field but there were still some proper racers in there. They had shades, voluminous legs and everything stretched tight as a drum, including smiles. 
We set off in two groups. I had blundered my way into the first group and off we went. The others setting off a minute or two later. We managed two laps before our little group split and it was me and Tim M off the back of the first group.
Never mind; we knew, like buses, there would be another along in a minute; and there was. But as we had been lapping at 22 mph, the peleton came past at 24 and it was a short lived charabang. That said, a few others also got spat out mercilessly. Being dropped from the pack can be abrupt but more often its a yo-yoing, longer lingering and snaking demise.
No matter. The ejectees formed a 5 man band. We continued all to take turns at the front and picked up a few stragglers. It was hard but like fell racing, concentrating on slip streaming and zooming in
on the wheel in front soon makes the time pass quickly.
With 27 miles of the 30 mile race completed the leader lapped us. He was flying solo, having decided that 25mph was more within his capability. The last lap slowed as a few caught their breath before attempting a sprint for 18th-23rd places. It was just like old times. Hambleton man jumped too early, I went in close behind and and came out with 50 to go.
va va voom.  Tea and cake for a quid afterwards made this Velo 29 organised event a reet gid day oot.  Celebrated my return by signing a pro-contract and going to see the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. How much tartan can a guy get in a day?

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