Read this great race report from Adam Robinson following his
First Time In The Peloton..
On Sunday 31st May myself and seasoned vet, of 48 consecutive racing seasons Phil Rayner, made the journey up to Derbyshire to participate in a Moda Test event at Darley Moor.
This was an event over a closed circuit which was an hour long plus 5 laps of the 1.44 mile circuit. On the trip up, as a first time group racer, I was trying to get any knowledge that Phil had on how to race this event, his knowledge and advice were invaluable.
On arrival at the circuit, which reminded me of an old WW2 air strip, the sun was trying to break through and it looked like a good day to race. As we drove past the motorhomes and campers parked up with riders enthusiastically spinning away, warming up on rollers we found a parking space and signed on.
With the bikes and kit unloaded Phil was soon saying hello to familiar faces, all excited to be back racing.Everything checked and double checked we made our way to the circuit to do a few warm up laps, Phil showing me the racing lines through the hairpin and chicanes.Warm up done, we rode up to the start with 60 other riders. It was a who’s who of the country’s veterans, a sea of past cycling stars, all out to race in one of the first BMCR Circuit races to be organised, post lockdown.
The flag went down and we were off. For the first few laps I followed Phil’s wheel getting used to the etiquette and unspoken rules of this beautiful sport. As the race went on there were splits in the peloton and I lost sight of Phil. The race was relentless, moving out the corners, the accelerations came quickly and to keep on wheels, for a few seconds, big efforts were needed to stay on.Being inside the peloton was an amazing feeling, riders so close they could almost lean across and whisper in your ear, the heat, the shouts, the whistles from riders within this moving murmurment alerting the riders up front that attacks were coming from the back, trying to sprint past to get away. Bikes moving at over 24mph around the hairpin all leaning in, almost touching.
The tactics were like chess played out with controlled aggression and elegance in equal measure. Hurtling down the fastest straight, gliding through the chicanes, I just had the biggest smile on my face.The race passed quickly and the first time I looked at the lap board it said ‘3 laps to go’. Earlier the peloton allowed 2 riders to get away who had put a good distance between them and us so the race result was almost sewn up, but other category positions were all to play for.It was then that things began to change, not massively, but you could sense that the mood had changed within the group as it began to bunch up with riders jostling for position.
From the start of the race the speed had progressively gained pace, but the last lap was a blur. We entered the last corner at breakneck speed, I was in a good position on the inside, legs whirring. Then, coming out of the last corner, as the big sprinters started their gallop home the inevitable happened. As I looked over to the outside of the track, a big crash, it was like an explosion of carbon and alloy, bones and flesh, dust rising into the air, then out of the dust came the seasoned sprinters including Mr Rayner, knowing exactly where to be, at exactly the right time.I crossed the finish line, a few seconds behind, knowing that it wasn’t going to be the last time I did this, I had found my new passion, it was racing in the peloton.