I begin writing feeling as if I have aged at least 10 years following this weekend's race. I, ferried by the taxi of mum, travelled to Ampleforth Abbey and college to partake in the Ryedale Grand Prix the final round of the British Elite Grand Prix series in North Yorkshire on Sunday. Within 5 minutes of arriving at the race HQ it was clear that it was going to be a wet race. After meeting up with the team and getting comfortable for the 2hr wait till the start and some good natured joking of which my facial hair seemed to be at the centre of, we began to get ready in the arduous fashion that racing in the wet entails. It's a case of putting as much kit on as possible simply because there's nothing worse than getting cold. Some riders suffer less than others, I have found that the key is simply to stay dry and warm. I opted for winter overshoes, winter gloves and 3 layers. I started in 4 but shed the 4th layer just before the start.
It wouldn't be the first time this year I've lined up for a wet race, but as I remember discussing with teammates following Gp Lillers there are various scenarios in which it is mentally harder to motivate yourself. If you start when its dry and the rain begins once you are already riding, this is the best scenario as you tend to just ignore it. The worst scenario is when it has been raining heavily for a long time before you have even started with no sign of let up. Contributing factors to this meteorological depression may link to the low pressure of the atmosphere when it rains or the knowledge that the roads will be soaking. Whatever the scientific reasoning, it is ultimately most horrible to start under dark clouds and pouring rain. Nonetheless a group of 130 riders, some of high spirits some terribly low, all took to the start line in the typical disorganised british elite series fashion.
Following a brief and oddly uneventful neutral zone the race was underway and went hard from the gun. Our very own Adam Kenway was the instigator of hostilities and on the first ascent of the main climb- which we would tackle a gruelling 8 times- where the initial and crucial split took place an initial flurry of attacks created a split of around 20 riders and I thought maybe the team had got lucky with me Grant and Adam present; it wasn't to be and all came back together and as is often the case it was the second salvo of attacks that led to the break forming and going away and a truce in the bunch.
The race settled down and was very uneventful for the next 2hrs. Canyon decided to go to the front to set the pace even if everyone else was regarding this move with bemusement, we were happy to let them go to work. Stragglers from the break were picked up at around the halfway mark but the gap was struggling to come down although it had fallen from the maximum of 3 minutes to roughly a 1 minute gap. the efforts of the canyon team were not enough to shut the move down.
Clear to everyone that the break was not going to be caught by the bunch in the final 4 laps the tension increased as riders prepared for the eventual attacks from the stronger riders to bridge to the leaders. It was in these final moves that I began to struggle. with 3 laps to go Connor Swift and a group of 4 or 5 riders jumped off the front of the bunch, shedding a host of riders on the climb. I was included but succeeded in clawing my way back to the bunch to only be jettisoned on the penultimate lap on the climb as the pace inevitably rose again as the chancers sought to escape the group, leaving me floundering and cursing as they danced up the road. I settled down to ride my own tempo for the final lap with some other stragglers and even managed to pick up some other riders who were drifting back from the head of the race. Content simply to finish I rode a solid tempo to the line and finished my first full length elite race.
I was happy with my ride in abismal conditions and though it is clear that there are still large areas for improvement I am almost a different rider to the one that was glimpsed at Chorely and Klondike; in the later I didn't even make it to 20km. To wrap up the season I'll be racing a multitude of local national B's and will be racing the Dave creasy Six day event (2 days, it confuses me too) with Liam Davies. It should be an exciting end to the season and there's yet time to obtain that elusive race victory.