First race of the new season: same shoddy luck

I was hoping to be able to write something along the lines of “Went OK today, didn’t quite finish in the points but managed to stay up in the bunch” but sadly, and possibly predictably, it didn’t go according to plan.

It started badly enough. As I was leaving the house I noticed my seat post was a bit wobbly on my way to the meet up point. Verdict from others was a faulty post so I’ll be off to Cyclefit next weekend to get it replaced. I can’t believe I’ve already broken something on the Merckx. Worse was to come though.

After rolling out to the MOD circuit at Quinetiq in Chertsey in shockingly grim weather (wet, muddy, cold) I was all set and feeling confident that I would be able to turn around a credible performance in conditions that were damp but not terrible. We’ve been here before so don’t be surprised at what happened next…

As it was a beginners’ series there were a few laps at the beginning to get everyone used to riding in a group and so that more experienced riders could offer us a few tips to help things go smoothly. Here’s Cliff (on the right) and me warming up (picture by Sam W):

And then I punctured, on the penultimate of these laps, which threw me all into a tizz. Luckily Paul had a spare tube and sorted me out so I could get going again when the group came back round. Unfortunately my rush to get going again was to have consequences I should have foreseen.

We lined up for 6 laps of racing and from the off it was fast. The usual folly of some going off really fast and everyone else trying to stay in the wheels and not get dumped off the back. I was hanging on at the back and waiting for the pace to settle after the first couple of sections, knowing that if I could make it to the bump of a hill on the far side I could get back in among the group as the concertina effect took hold. Or more likely cling on for grim death.

Then the back of the bike started to bobble about and bounce. Puncture again.

In my hurry to fix the previous flat I’d missed the flint that had caused it and it had done for the tyre again. Reminder to self: take off gloves and check for sharp objects properly after a puncture. It saves the hassle of ruining your race on the first lap.

I limped back round and grumbled about my rotten fortune. Then I changed the inner tube and dug out the flint which was one of those that is so small you can’t see it and it doesn’t go through until it’s under pressure or gets a bump. Not wanting to waste the effort of having ridden all that way I got back out with the group at the back for the last two laps and even managed a bit of a sprint for the line.

Rode back home suffering like a dog from stiffening up afterwards and probably not eating enough cake. So I had pizza and salad and decided not to make excuses for a rubbish performance. Will be back next Sunday to give it another crack on what is a nice circuit to race on. And because I would like to finish a full race before I lose patience and hope.

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