Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Out of the freezer, into the fire: Southampton National Trophy

NT4_5
I had perhaps my best ever start in Southampton on Sunday. Starting from the fourth row, I somehow snuck my way through a whole heap of riders to find myself up in the top 20 at the end of the first lap. Unbelievable. Kevin was stood trackside yelling at me about how great the situation was, and I believed him. I was up with the strong guys, I just had to keep it going.
One lap later, things started to go pear shaped. I was getting knackered; I'd been punching above my weight, and I was starting to get hit back. Billy Whenman and Darren Barclay got across to me on the only real descent of the circuit, and as I tried to get round the hairpin at the bottom of the hill, I caught my STI on the course marking post and knocked myself off.
The group rode away as I untangled myself.
I sprinted off, but with the foresight that I needed to relax for a bit and recover if I wanted to avoid making mistakes. The errors kept coming though, and I crashed twice more on the next lap before I pulled my finger out and started riding well again. The whole race, I was up and down like a yo-yo — literally and figuratively.
I found myself riding round with Andrew Nichols, and together we caught Mike Cotty with about three laps to go. Things were looking good for a while and I took the lead. Nothing much happened from there on, except first, Cotty rode away — fair enough, he's a very good athlete — and then on the last lap, Nichols dropped me. He's a skinny little under 23 who goes up hills somewhat easier than me. Oh well. I came home in 31st, outside the points, so technically no better than a DNF. What a load of bollocks.
Realistically, it was quite a positive ride as I had an amazing start and I was mixing it with some good riders all race. Negatives were the lapses of concentration and the lack of strength in the final. Lessons learned — more miles needed, more skills required.
Two weeks till Bradford, scene of my first decent ride at this level when I came top 30 at the 2009 National Champs. At last year's Trophy however, I had a thoroughly shitty ride, so who knows how I'll go. One thing — my fingers are crossed that fewer than 10 Belgians turn up in Yorkshire. They're taking all the points scoring placings and ruining my ranking!
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