From my point of view at the back of the pack this was a very different race to last week. My heart rate didn't reach an absurd level, my average speed was actually a bit faster than last time and I wasn't nearly as exhausted after today, but I was way off the pace of the peloton. The race ran clockwise, so having thought I'd learned the corners already I had to start again from scratch. I completed 21 laps, and there were again quite a few people who'd already dropped out when I stopped, which was pleasing. A somewhat timid start, trying not to max out my heart rate too soon again and cornering very poorly, meant I fell to the back of the pack within a lap. Then trying too hard to stay in contact I massively overcooked the corner at the bottom of the descent, rolling off into the grass at 50kph.
For the next six or seven laps I worked loosely with a chap from London Phoenix trying to keep some semblance of dignity in our race position, but we didn't make any significant progress getting back to the pack and eventually he was struggling to hold on to my wheel. The next time I looked around I'd dropped him and was on my own.
Apart from when the leaders lapped I was basically alone for the rest of the race. I occasionally caught some of the women and some of the 3/4s who'd fallen back, but mostly just spent about ten lonely laps practicing my cornering and being passed by rocketing lines of the leaders. Finally I was told to retire next lap, and then a fast passing rider in the E12s forced me off the road at a corner and onto the grass again. Tant pis.
So let's learn some lessons:
- Got to go hard at the start. The pack goes off at what feels like an unsustainable pace, but if you can't keep in contact with the group for the first couple of laps the next hour is just intervals training. Not holding back isn't enough, bury yourself to keep up; PLF.
- Don't overdo it the day before. Preparation this week was appalling. My relaxed hour-long loosener on Monday evening turned into a harder push when I was running late and, well, got bored going gently. That and a BMF session on Monday morning left me feeling under-powered this evening. I know, excuses, but don't overdo it.
- Keep focus, keep pushing. Especially while not in a group it's very easy to lose concentration and drift through the laps ten seconds off pace, not pushing out of the corners.
- Stick to the track. Let's try to keep off the grass next time, that's just embarrassing.