Women’s team – Antonia Hawker, Alice Jackson, Emma Derby
Men’s team – Tom Fraser, Joe Bowers, Oliver Leach
Going into this race with a total of only 2 fairly haphazard training sessions round Regents Park, the only thing we knew for sure was that it was going to be very tough. On the day we went for a warm up/ ride on the course to see what it was like- with far more “undulations” (serious hills) than we would have liked, and a very strong wind we realised we were in for a brutal affair.
The girl’s team were off first, they were off to a flying start, and after putting us to shame in their preparations it was a real shame that they got a puncture on the second lap. Unfortunately for Alice there was no quick fix for this, so the other two rode on valiantly after a quick stop. The scoreboard showed a DNF but the 2 girls crossed the finish with a ride time of 1 hour 31 despite riding almost half of it on their own.
Our men’s team only just made it to the start line on time after Oli spent ages pratting about in his car, then insisting on a long leisurely warm up....
Despite this we got off to a fierce start – led by the excellent race captain. After the first two bends was the hill we had been dreading after the warm up. Pumped full of adrenaline we stormed up this hill yielding some worrying numbers on the old heart rate monitor. Once on top of the hill we had a good 5 to 10 minutes of respite (in relative terms) downhill. Around the next bend we were greeted by a nice strong head wind which once again produced some interesting reading on the Garmin. The continual onslaught into the wind lasted ages (probably about 10 minutes, but it felt much longer). After a few close encounters with potholes, cars and questionable bike handling we finished the first lap. 25km would have been a really nice distance.
Our second ascent of the big hill was not quite as dominant as our previous attempt; perhaps this was more sensible seeing as we were beginning to seriously feel the effects in our legs. In this context ‘we’ doesn’t include Joe- who decided he would spend the next 25-30 minutes tearing Oli and myself to pieces. The second time round the wind was much stronger (I say that 100% objectively....) and it really brought out some serious team bonding. Shorter turns on the front and potentially over aggressive drafting ensued as we battled away, all the time knowing the quicker we went the sooner it would be over. Once we turned away from the wind we knew it was roughly 1 lap of Regents to go. The prospect of finishing soon managed to withdraw some high quality cycling from all of us, as we motored along overtaking yet another team who started before us. Somehow Joe was still able to drill it hard on the front right up to the turn on to the home straight.
Perhaps reading the race briefing beforehand might have helped us to understand that the finish was considerably further along from the start. So after a couple of sprint finishes we managed to cross the line in a very respectable time 1 hour 15 minutes and 39 seconds. In those conditions on that course that was much faster than we thought we could go- so everyone was pleased with how we performed.
For a while we were first on the leader board, but unfortunately that didn’t last for long. Having said that we still smashed Imperial, and all looked super sexy in our shiny new kit.