Last Sunday in some nice warm conditions I raced the Army Cycling Union's - Are You Tough Enough event, in the 4 hours Single Speed category. The race would end with some controversy. But I am over that and looking forward.
As I said the day was warm and this suited me. As I lined up I knew Al would be the man to try and beat or at least try to stay close to. But with these events there is always one that suddenly pops up out of nowhere and seem to be flying, then disappear for the rest of the year.
The race started and I planned to stick to my race plan, often the best way as most of the time in these races it is hard to know exactly where you are. As the laps whiled away and my nutrition and plan seemed to hold together another SS passed me, but without clocking his number and any real idea I didn't chase, plus at this point in the race, it would be against my plan and the bigger picture in a few weeks time.
I pushed on and passed many riders, in many different categories and even got caught up with the start of the 2hrs race, but put in the effort to up my pace so as not to lose time on others I was racing, slowing to let these guys passed. Once these guys had passed I settled into my rhythm again and ticked the legs over nicely. However soon, my bike was plagued by an ominous creak, which I decide to inspect thoroughly. I would have easily lost a minute here, but better than the alternative. Everything checked and in working order I pressed on, however as I started another SS rider appeared on my wheel. Balls! I had gifted him a minute or so. But let's not panic.
Over the next 2 laps we swap positions, 2nd and 3rd a few times. Then I managed to steadily ride him off my wheel, but suddenly he reappeared. Onto the last lap and the same occurred I rode him off my wheel, but in the last 600m's he appeared from nowhere and latched onto my wheel, but he didn't have the legs to get past.
Coming into the last 300 metres I made a simple mistake, which meant he sneaked past, but I was soon on his wheel again. Once chance was left, a dirty loamy corner in a steep climb. I had nailed this every lap. I back off a bike length or 2 has he sat right on the wheel of the 2hr rider in front of him. This would be a mistake, sure enough at the corner, they both faltered and stepped off. I called "track" and the 2hr rider who was on my line jumped out the way. The SS rider, with no right of way, jumped in my way, knocking me off my bike. Angrily I run my bike to the top as he did the same and sprinted for the line and just missed pipping him on it. I have to admit I was quite pissed off at the time and rightly so. But like I say I have moved on. After a while I focused on the good. I had stuck to the plan, my nutrition was spot on and I rode the sections the way I had planned after the first lap. In fact, it was probably my most disciplined race in the last 18 months. I also got 3rd in the Cat and roughly 16th overall in the 4hr. So another podium for Cycleworks, the team is getting quite a few this year.
So overall, I am really happy with this result. I feel disappointed for Al Fairbairn, whos handle bars snapped, but glad he was OK and inspired by his massive attempt to get back in the race. Thanks to Chris's dad for helping out, Cheers!
ACU and Gorrick, awesome course and great event well done again.