A fun Christmas of eating mince pies and drinking port and not doing much* training and then back to the circuit hoping it's been the same for everyone. At least it's 3/4s and not 2/3s, so maybe it won't be as fast and I'll have a chance to sit in. It didn't work out that way in the end.
After nearly having heart failure during my warm up, I always felt like I was on the back foot. Bath had a huge squad in the race – 9 riders out of 40 – so we were expected to mix it up a bit. And that's what was happening at the front, with youth (Charlie and Elliot both under 20) and experience (Club TT supremo Steve, and Rob, a LVRC national crit champion) putting shifts in with help from the rest of the team. I was suffering near the back, and had to take evasive action on the fast downhill as two riders came together and one ended up laid out on the verge at about 50km/h.
Then it happened again: up the home straight another clash of wheels and another fall, and I'm hauling on the anchors again. That's why you get to the front if you can, but I didn't really have the legs in this one. A few seconds off the back of the race I might have been able to kill myself and hook back on again, but at that point I think mentally the fight had gone a bit. This wasn't going to be my day. There was a third crash in the sprint, with Bath rider Martin going down pretty heavily. I'm not sure I've been in a race at Odd Down with three crashes in before. Usually it's just someone clipping a pedal on one of the hairpins at low speed, and they're not too bad. These were all full gas. In the back of my mind I think I was picturing myself on crutches at an Italian refugio while the rest of the family enjoyed February's skiing holiday. I don't think that helped.
A good result for Bath in the end: Rob won the sprint to take the win in his first BC race for 11 years, and we had three other riders in the top 10. One to forget for me though.
Pics by Stuart Lessels, 1000th.co.uk
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.