A good day for the first of the terrific Doug and Lucy Collins’ Imperial Racing Winter Series for this season. Dry with a temperature of +9°C and a light westerly wind (though it always seems a bit stronger at Hillingdon). The series was planned to kick off last Saturday but the ice and snow on the circuit made cancellation inevitable. We will be lucky if that is the only race to be lost to this icy winter.
I signed on a little apprehensively for I had somehow stepped up from 4th category to 3rd category since last winter. I need not have worried though; the speed was very similar, though there was some more tactical riding with bursts of energy interspersed with collective breathers while we waited to see what move would happen next.
Early on I discovered I was not in good enough form to keep up with the rider who keenly sprinted straight off the start or to get into any break. There were some early attempts, but I did not have the strength to go with them and no-one had the strength to stay away (maybe the ice hasn’t affected just my training, though I somehow suspect most others have a turbo in the garage). My club coach was watching, and he had once advised me to settle for an objective of staying near the front for as long as possible. It was therefore largely for his benefit that at 3 laps to go I was at the front; indeed with the sprint on everybody’s minds I had trouble getting off the front and then struggled with the inevitable acceleration in the last couple of laps.
I was at the back discussing with my old racing companion, James, how it might not be wise to compete the sprint, when the wisdom of that joint thought was borne out by a crash on the home straight. Bikes came down to the left of me and then immediately afterwards one to the right of me. I do hope they are all ok. I carried on to roll over the line just off the back of the bunch, which pretty much met my objective of the day.
25 miles in 1h02m. Average speed 24.2 mph. Top speed 30mph just before slowing for the crash.