Another race weekend! This time, a big drive through to Irvine for a warm sea-side race.
Unfortunately for me, this turned into a nightmare race. As is traditional, I did ‘just one more warmup lap’ and found that the previously empty start line had filled up with a hundred eager racers. Ah well, been here before. Plenty of chances to power-surge on lap one and make up position.
The starting whistle goes, and we funnel round the first few turns before I get a chance to accelerate hard down the side of the straight and sweep past the crowds. Swinging into the hill climb, I followed someone up the right side of the track, but they have a ‘moment’ and stop and I had to unclip. Still, around the high parts of the course I continue my progress and by the time we’re up to the runup I’m feeling pretty good about my progress.
Remounting after the runup, someone shouts that I’ve got course tape wrapped around my rear wheel. I stop immediately – it can only get worse – and step to the side to clear the racing line. My initial tugs removed some of the tape, but the rest was trapped under the chain so, as all the pack whizzed by, I had to flip up some gears before I could get the rest out and rejoin towards the tail of the field.
So, nightmare start, doubleplus nightmare to lose all the places gained with tape-gate, but my bike was still intact and plenty of time to make amends. Next couple of laps flew by as I retook places. I was strong up the climbs and runups, and carried confidence on the off-cambers to pass people high and low.
But, on the day before, I’d pulled a muscle in my hip picking up cheribum #2 and although it wasn’t affecting my pedalling too much, it was taking a hammering every time I jump on or off the bike or ran the last part of the sand. On the lap 4, it went from ‘sore’ to ‘excruciating agony’ and after struggling through the end-of-lap sand I was close to giving up and DNFing. But, since I could still (mostly) ride I figured I’d push on, see what I could make up on the momentum sections and see if I could minimize losses on the bits that required working anatomy. But the lap times tell the story – lap 2 was a decent 6m59s which crashed to 9m24. It was agony physically on the runup and sand, and although I was still passing people on the other bits of the lap all the good work was undone when I needed to get on/off the bike.
Towards the end of the race, someone passed me with course tape wrapped around their rear wheel, so I returned the earlier karma by shouting to tell them. They glanced at it, but kept going across the offcamber. As they dropped down off the hill there was a horrible crunch as, I assume, the tape wedged their rear mech and did nasty things to their bike. At least I wasn’t alone in having a nightmare race, and I was glad I’d taken the time to calmly clear the tape from my own bike.
Final result was 86th out of 123 starters, 70th percentile. I was expecting much worse given the calamity! The highest position I had at the end of a lap was 67th (54th percentile). I lost 40 seconds dealing with the tape, and maybe 3 minutes following injury as I struggled up the hills and kept off line the rest of the lap to not impede others. In the ‘fantasy league’ where I get to magically deduct those mishaps, I’d have finished in 50th place (40th percentile) which would’ve been spot on my expectation, given that Irvine is more of a power race than last time out at Cally Par. But, back in the real world, a bit of a painful day – I even had to ask a kindly fellow racer to help me lift my bike onto the car!
Thankfully, two weeks of rest before SCX #3 at Dunfermline.