Last week I went in my second road circuit race and like the first one once I got lapped by my category I pulled off and DNFed as it gets to chaotic out there.
This week was a different story, feeling tired, but keen I arrived, early enough to have a chat and then get warmed up properly. I had eaten well all day and loaded with banana's and a couple of gels before the race. But I felt different, more determined maybe, this is not as big as the 24Hr Solo coming up, but it was time I rode well.
We lined up the whilst went and the E/1/2's left then us shortly after, I settled into a good rhythm and hope the new bike setup would work, I was doing my best to sit about 10-15 from the front and at 20 minutes felt good, the pace had ebbed and flowed, but it hadn't affected me at all, this was good.
Around 40 minutes I noticed the time again and still felt good and I was riding much nearer the front and still managing to free wheel now and then. With about 4 minutes to go and 5 laps (in total 7 laps) I got a biting cramp in both calves, I think I might have even yelped slightly. I thought no, this is not happening, I stood up out of the next corner and it hurt a bit more, back in the saddle it eased and so did the pace which we (a group of about 7 riders, me included) had been setting as we had caught a chap who had been away for most of the race. The drop in pace allowed the pack to come back together and my calves to recover slightly, but they still hurt.
Heading up the finishing straight with 4 laps to go the pace quickened again and I closed an attack, "What the hell?", but this pace felt better for me and it caused the bunch to string out again, this is good I thought. But sadly it slowed again and I thought about attacking and maybe should have, but the calves still stung.
A massive bunch swung out of the last corner and stood hard on the pedals, my calves weren't having any of it so I ignore them, I took a few places and got taken by a few, but I think I finished about mid bunch. A great improvement on the past two weeks.
I watched as the Elites and 1/2's sped around the circuit and was very impressed by the power and pace of these guys. Makes you realise just how good the pro's really are.