Promoted by DIss & District CC, this is a great local race well worth a look if you get the chance.
What a treat it is not to have to get up on Sunday morning at 5am to drive to an early morning race start in another county. On the contrary, this race is run on a Saturday afternoon on a great (but tough) 6 mile circuit, just west of Diss. Which means Saturday morning is wasted getting more & more nervous about the afternoon’s activities!
The circuit isn’t particularly hilly, but does feature some very narrow lanes and a pretty hairy descent on a road packed with pot-holes. All the sound advice received before the race was to stay near the front of the group. But staying near the front of the group comes with its drawbacks too – you end up having to work into the wind when everyone else wants to conserve their energy.
It was an attritional race & unfortunately Philip Thomerson happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… about halfway into the race, one of the 3 (?) crashes occurred right in front of Philip and he ended up on the deck with some nasty looking abrasions on his face (but apparently no looking damage done). We’re looking forward to seeing Phil racing again as he’s been riding strong recently, but just had a rotten run of luck.
Whilst the sun was out on Saturday afternoon, the conditions were quite blustery. There were a number of strong riders willing to sit in the pack whilst letting others do the work on the front, notably riders from the local clubs – Stowmarket, Iceni and VCN.
There was a prime on lap 2 of 6, following which a rider from Cambridge (Peter Kirwan) decided to attack the pack. Everyone looked at each and thought… he won’t make it stick… let him go… (he had done the same thing the previous lap and didn’t last very long at all). Anyway, we didn’t see him again!
For the next 3 laps, the race ebbed and flowed and the bunch started to think about the last lap and how to make the most of the opportunity that lay ahead. With a lap and a half to go, Arctic SRAM rider Steve Nunn decided to ride off the front of the group (into the strong headwind). Another rider not to be seen again. He eventually caught & beat the Cambridge rider for the race win.
At the bell for the start of the final lap, the attacks started to come in thick & fast… but there was a lull… at which point I decided to try to ride away from the pack. And I did! I spent 5 miles looking over my should checking on the progress of the bunch, but they didn’t seem to close on me. When I went past the 1km to go sign I actually started to believe that I could possibly get 3rd place in a Road Race – first time on the podium for me… it was enough to find an extra spurt into the legs which helped me to fly up the finish straight and comfortably over the line before the bunch sprint which followed shortly afterwards.
In the hotly contested sprint (there were some really strong riders in that pack who had waited all race for this moment), James Browne managed to bag a 4th (7th place overall). A fantastic effort given that he’d done more work on the front than most other riders.
Last year, when I started racing, it was a real effort to finish a race & felt like a massive achievement when I did. This year I’ve done races of 70+ miles at an average speed of over 25mph – it sounds ridiculous now, but it sounded impossible last year. If your thinking about racing and you’re a bit 50/50, my advice would be give it a go. And anyone who races will talk to you about it and encourage you to have a go. It’s a massive buzz and the sense of achievement you get from getting a good result* is just fantastic.
* Good result can range from winning to lasting half a race and everything in between – that’s the beauty… you set your own goals in this game!