Cycle racing takes many forms, road, track, mountain biking. Road racing can take you across great landscapes in both the city and countryside, while racing on the track brings with it incredible speed and intensity. But, how about combining the two?! City centre criteriums or ‘crits’ have become increasingly popular in recent years with the Red Hook Crit being one of the best known – just check out this link to see how intense and fast the racing is https://vimeo.com/99120865.
With that in mind when I first heard about the V Series Race taking place on a closed road circuit around Canary Wharf, I was champing at the bit to get a team involved. Luckily I work with some other keen cyclists and we were able to cobble together a pretty respectable team. The race follows an Italian Team Pursuit format so team work is crucial to try and co-ordinate the winning effort from 8 riders. Take a look at the video from last year’s event to get an idea: https://rbcvlondon.com/
Out of our team of 8 riders, only one of us had any track racing ‘pedigree’ so it was fair to say that some practice was going to be needed. On course to the race night itself the V Series organisers put on a great training day which helped to de-mystify the race format. It also covered some of the nuances of track style racing so we could nail down our paceline, cornering and changeovers. Once our technique was honed it was time to ensure the engines, our legs, were adequately tuned. It was time to hit the watt-bikes hard. We performed a series of tests to look at our power output over various distances to figure out which riders were best placed to lead us out and who our finishers would be. As the race drew closer we managed to fit in a few more sessions out on the road to ensure our pace was at the right level and our changeovers were slick.
Having had one of the more splendid months of early summer weather in May, the heavens decided to open on race day! So this added one further challenge to mix, cornering at speed on wet roads, covered in drains! The countdown was on and some of the early teams went out and laid down pretty impressive markers for time. Then it was our turn.
Adrenaline was pumping as we lined out across the road, knowing our opponents were on the opposing starting line across the circuit. The start gun sounded and with a whoosh we were away and quickly into our line. We managed to navigate the corners and power out the far side. As our riders dropped away after their designated stint at the front my legs were starting to feel the burn, I was in this one until the finish. We continued to power around the last two laps with four riders, changing every few hundred meters, and finally crossing the line with the second fastest time of the qualifiers.
So we were in the grand final. The race came around and we were ready to go, but disaster struck as we went through the first corner - a rider down. We had to re-group but seemed to loose time as the effort started to take its toll earlier on the rest of our team. We fell away towards the end to finish second but were extremely proud of our effort and only more hungry to return this year to avenge our loss in the final.
The training has already started in earnest, here’s hoping for some dry roads and some fast racing at the V Series 2016!