Warwick Town Centre Cycle Races
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Last Sunday played host to the Warwick Town Centre Races, a full day of crit racing for all ages and abilities around the centre of the historic town of Warwick. This event was last hosted 9 years ago in 2010 so there was plenty of excitement for the events return again, organised by Behind Bars Events and Warwick Lanterne Rouge CC.
It had been over a year since I last raced on the road bike, and I’ve only done it 3 times anyway so I wasn’t sure what to expect. With that in mind I gave myself plenty of time to get stuff figured out and arrived at the venue around 11am with the race start scheduled for 1:30pm. Parking was at the Warwick Race Course which was a short walk away from the race course and HQ so I hopped on the bike to head across, sign on and check out the course. The weather conditions were spot on which had already attracted a large number of spectators for the early morning races so the atmosphere was already awesome!
Sign on for my race wasn’t open for another hour or so until they had all the timing chips back from the current races so I utilised this time to have a course recce. The course was a short 1km circuit, consisting of nine 90 degree corners, and the course surface varied from freshly laid tarmac to old cobble stones on the start finish straight. There were plenty of other obstacles to take notice of, including drop curbs, drain covers and the barrier legs so there would be plenty to focus on. Unlike mountain bike races there wasn’t any practice, we would only get 2 sighter laps behind a pacer right before the race start. This was a new experience to me but it would be the same for everyone.
Following the course recce, I signed on and joined some the Dynamic Rides CC club riders in getting ready for the race. I had a quick lunch, got changed, checked the bike over and then it was time to warm up. With the race not being gridded and the course being so tight I knew it was important to get a front row start, so in order to ensure this I compromised my warm up and arrived at the start pen 15 minutes before race start. The warm up ended up being a waste of time anyway due to a 30 minute delay; luckily the weather was nice so I was able to stay warm and dry whilst we waited to be let on course.
Eventually we were let on course, received a briefing from the BC commissaires and then we headed out for our sighter laps. The pace was slow, controlled by the pace bikes, however there was lots of jostling as riders tried to get to the front. I was focusing so much on holding a good position I didn’t really have time to take note of any course features but I did manage to get on the front row. The race would begin from a standing start, which I understand is unusual for road races, however I was used to this format from Cross-Country and just focused purely on getting clipped in.
When the flag dropped, I connected with my pedal immediately although I still wasn’t sure If I was securely clipped in. I went to sprint and everything felt secure so I just laid down the power, held my nerve and line in the first corners and lead out the race. This allowed me to control the pace whilst I learnt the course at race speed. Over the first few laps I pushed on trying to string out the field and create a gap. However when I sat up at the front the pace slowed and the group bunched back up.
This allowed a few of my club mates to join me, who were also willing to work and we upped the pace and created small breakaway of seven riders. Unfortunately whilst pushing a couple of the guys crashed which whittled the group down to five. Over the next few laps, three of us took turns on the front and dispatched the other two, creating a three man race for the win over the final 10 minutes of the race.
The pace remained constant until the last couple of laps, when it surged; we all stayed together and I was sat third wheel but we were rapidly catching the back of the main bunch. For some reason they didn’t get pulled and we were right on the back of them heading into the penultimate corner; unfortunately one of the lappers crashed in this corner causing a pile up and disrupted the final sprint for the line so I ended up third. I’m not sure I would have moved up anyway since the sprint to the line was short and my position wasn't great but it was a frustrating end to an otherwise very exciting race. Regardless, I was pretty stoked with this result, landing my first ever podium on the road bike!
There are plenty of things to work on though, mainly corner speed and tactics. I wasn't cornering at the same pace as the other two riders meaning I had to constantly close gaps, these were only small but sapped energy. I also did too much time on the front, although the work I did led to the breakaway group forming; other riders rode smart, sat in and saved their energy. I guess I was just too excited!
To finish this blog I would like to give a shout out to Luke from Behind Bars Sports for organising such a great event and one that I will definitely enter next year! Also I have to say a big thank you to the Dynamic Rides CC guys and girls for their support both on and off track!
Is this the start of my road career? Maybe not, my focus is still very much on MTB XC but I will certainly channel my inner Van der Poel and jump on the road bike again soon.