Its good to do a few races where results are not that important as it gives you an opportunity to just get your head in race mode, its obviously also good for getting some seriously hard intervals in if you feel like it.
So we hit the road, got lost and eventually found Navan Rugby Club. I signed up for A3 and got myself changed and a final checkover of my bike (Giant TCR Alliance). The bike is nothing special, but I upgraded the wheels to Braccianos Pro-Lites this year and stuck on some Continental GP 4000 tyres (also a 2011 sponsor... more on that later).
It was a cold starting off with a little rain. The road to the loop was wide and rolling so it was a good time to get reacquainted with cycling in a large bunch. Once we got onto the loop and on the first climb Darragh Mortimer broke away. As usual I was struggling to stay close to the front but once I saw Morty so I decided it was a good time to see how I felt at maximum effort. 4 minutes later I eventually caught up with Morty, but I was in no shape to work with him to continue with the break, so just waited for the group to pick me up.
I hid in the group to recover for an hour or so when Darragh came up beside me and said another break was going to form in about 10 minutes! Sure enough I started to see a few riders stream off the front of the group on a slight climb, so I decided to have another go, as the alternative would be to just sit in the group to the finish. Soon enough we had 6 riders clear of the main group and it was looking good initially with everyone pushing on. We were away for about 20 minutes before it began to fall apart as a couple of guys did not come through for their turn on the front. After that the rest of the guys just sat up and the main group came back to us quite quickly.
And that was the race for me. I just rolled on to the finish, keeping clear of the bunch sprint. I was happy with the effort I put in, but would like to actually win a race!
The following week things got messy. I was very busy in work and also felt a little run down. It pretty much scuppered any training plans I had and I fancied the idea of a rest anyway. But things played out and I ended up doing the Newbridge GP (grudgingly). I got to the signon and it was bloody freezing with cold rain blowing in. I did not fancy the idea of racing in that weather at all and almost got back into the car to go home. I tried to warm up, but just got colder! So back into the car and I waited until we were called to the race.
It was a big A3 race - about 150 riders. I headed off in the middle of the group. It was 4 laps of a lumpy course which I like. The pace was very fast on the flat and I struggled to hold onto the last wheel of the group, but once we got to the climbs I managed to work my way up to the front. After 2 laps I felt a little better and on the second climb I went to the front to push the pace on, then I fell back into the group on the flat again. On the last lap I pushed to the front again on the last climb (with about 2km to go), but my descending leaves a lot to be desired and I was passed by a lot of riders who then dropped the pace and spread across the road getting ready for the brunch sprint, so race over for me. I was happy again with how I climbed and felt good after the big efforts I put in, despite the drop off in training.
No more road races planned, but if I've a quite weekend with no mountain biking I'll be out again, it is good fun and with no pressure, you can just head out and give it socks without worrying about the consequences. But it ain't mountain biking :)