Thursday, June 28, 2012
Ras de Cymru Stage 2
59.8 mile Rolling Road Stage
3 KOM primes, 3 Sprint Primes.
After what can only be described as a hot nights sleep, the team awoke to what looked like a fairly decent day. With breakfast being served between 7 and 8 we hot tailed it down to the Fecky for some pre race grub. Just like dinner we were treated to a big selection of cereals, toast, cooked breakfast, pastries and much more. However, knowing how bad we all felt after last nights pig out, we all took caution as to how much we piled on our trays, we all basically stuck to one bowl of cereal, except for Adrian who had 2!, a Couple of slices of toast and a few cups of coffee. With breakfast done we headed back to the dorms to pack our race bags and headed off north bound towards the Brecon beacons which is where todays race would take place.
It was around an hours journey from the Uni to the race HQ and after leaving Newport in the rain we arrived at Brecon Ruby club under sunny skies. After the race briefing we set off to complete the 5 mile neutralized zone before the races begun proper. It has to be said that this was the most dangerous neutralized zone I have ever ridden, what the driver of the official car was playing at I had no idea but he kept speeding up forcing the bunch to chase him and then slamming on his brakes which caused chaos in the bunch, along with a ton of road furniture this made for a sketchy experience. With the rain now also beginning to fall, many riders including myself had a few scary moments.
As the flag dropped at the start of the race, the paced expectedly picked up pretty quickly and it was at this point that I realised I was pretty far back in the bunch. With 101 riders all jockeying for position, moving up was not an easy task. Thankfully I managed to get some what near the front as we approached the main climb. It was at this point that two things happened; Firstly i realised that I was feeling really quite bad, my lungs felt constricted and my legs wouldn't work. As soon as we hit a small rise I would have to ride at such a high level of perceived exertion it felt like I was attacking! I guess I am going through a “bad patch” at the minute with my medical issues and when these happen it really effects my riding. Thankfully I have now received good news as to when I should be getting treatment started so in a few months time hopefully things will be different.
The second, more concerning event that took place as we hit the hill was the weather, or more specifically how the weather decided to turn against us. I think the gods may have decided that bike racing isn't hard enough so they chose to test our willingness and our courage all in one fell swoop. And so began the worst down pour I have ever had the misfortune to witness, let lone race in! At first it was just unbelievably heavy rain that fell from the skies, this caused the bunch to fracture as riders began to struggle for vision. Next came the worst part, the hail!!! It was like something from a movie, it was coming down that hard and that fast that it was causing many riders to bleed from there exposed skin. I took to effing and blinding as I made my way down the descent which I would say helped, although others may not agree! It was not long after this point that the race was called to a halt just before the start of the second lap, as we all bunched together and tried to work out what was going on, the rain eased off and the sun came out! The commissaries decided to resume the race with a neutralized section before getting on to the bigger roads but as soon as we got going we were faced with flooded lanes and debris.
At the top of the next climb we were once again order to stop and pull in behind the lead cars. It was at this point that the race officials very fairly and understandably deemed the race to unsafe due to standing water and Stage 2 was officially cancelled. Bummer. Having said that, they only ever call the race off ifthey really need to. At the end of the day they want us to race as much as we want to race, they have put in months of planning and given up there free time to help organize and run the event so the last thing they want to do is call it off. This means that cancelling a race is a very last resort and I think its fair to say that it was the right decision, someone could have been very seriously injured had we continued to race.
So after making our way back to the HQ we loaded up and decided to recce tomorrows road stage, the afternoon TT and the finish of stage 5 so we knew what we would be facing. Its looks as though it could be an interesting and tough few days ahead, even with out the added weather effects. Keep tabs as there will be plenty more action coming up in the next few days.