Temperatures above zero but felt bitterly cold in the north wind as a good (ie medium) number of riders lined up for the start in light snow. Alex Murray made a brave early attempt at a break. By the time I figured out it might be an idea to join him the bunch had woken up. A two man break from the 3rd cat race came past and those at the front didn't want to let them go, leading to a higher pace than usual until the 3rd cat bunch went by and we eased to let them past and then to create a gap. We zoomed down the back straight and bunched together on the finishing straight but as I found when I hit the front into the wind there was no option but to slow. My Garmin shows 30.6 mph on the back straight on the final lap but that was not sufficient to do anything other than hang on at the back. No crashes this week in our race so I rolled in at the back of the bunch.
Average Speed 23.6 mph.
That's the last one for this winter and I have done all 11 (one was cancelled when deep snow lay on the circuit). So why do I do it, given that I don't have a ghost of a chance of winning points? Here are some thoughts in case they assist those who contemplate doing this next winter.
1. The races are very well organised, cheerfully and efficiently by the Collins family who turn up every Saturday all winter to stand around in the cold (it's much colder if you're standing around than if you're racing) and chip ice or sweep mud off the circuit. Register in advance and it takes moments to scribble your name and go. They take the trouble to place all the finishers, not just the first 10 or first few, and to place those results with pictures within a couple of days on the net. They deserve support.
2. I love cycling and it doesn't come better than whizzing around in a bunch racing. It hones skills such as bike control and spatial awareness that are readily transferable to doing much better in sportives and to surviving in traffic. Plus it's a bonus to mingle with other keen cyclists whether teammates or rivals.
3. The circuit itself is safe; bicycle traffic means no potholes, no ruts, no risk of a collision with anything fast and heavy. OK, there is the risk of a crash and if you are very unfortunate you could break a collar bone. However nobody (so far as I am aware) has ever died or suffered catastrophic injury riding circuit races (if only the same were true of commuting, time trialling or even clubruns). So the risk/reward balance to my mind clearly favours racing over not racing, though I am the first to back off if I sense danger, and risk can be reduced further by always making your movements predictable to those around you.
4. I am the type that needs the external motivation to make an effort. I can sustain a heart rate at around 160 bpm for an hour in a race. On my own, the power of my will is such that I might average 120. Must be good for me and I don't do gyms or turbos.
5. It's not therefore the winning but the taking part. I reserve performing at the highest level to my profession. My cycling, like my piano playing, may be mediocre to poor; but much better to do it poorly than not at all.
So I may never get a point but it is nonetheless rewarding and I recommed it.