They say practice makes perfect. Well this is race five and my form has been pretty good, so my challenge of a top five for the series seems very possible. My checklists seem to have gone out the window and as the bike is being used daily so no need for last minute fettles.
I arrive nice and early for the race, kit on, say Hello to the familiar faces then go and get 10 minutes warm up on the course. It becomes apparent I don't feel to sharp on 5-hours sleep.
I have an amazing wife who supports my addiction and obsession for bikes and racing and as it was an early start Gemma camps in the nursery with the intention of me getting an extra few hours sleep, but Georgia's unsettled so not the solid 7-hours hoped for.
We're all stood around the start line and it's a relaxed atmosphere, the Super Master's are called and line up I count 14 riders - it becomes apparent that a large number of riders have opted for my race rather than suffer the extra lap. There is close to 50 riders in the Master category so I'm very happy to be gridded.
We're called forward and everyone is up for it. The sluggishness is erased and the focus is on the gun. Bang, I'm off and straight on the pedals. I'm in front at the first corner, a place I'm not familiar with so I let two riders pass me as don't want to lead the race. We dash into the singletrack and keep the pace high, the course is superb and the small amount of drizzle in the air has made no ill effect.
It's a twisty technical course with lots of little climbs then drop-off's to try and catch us out. I find a rhythm and happy to be in the lead group of five riders. We're wheel to wheel for the fist 15 minutes then I see a familiar strip come in to my peripheral, Mr. Pepper, sporting 9 gears. This is a rarity, I was always of the opinion that if you cut him in half you would see "One F*****G Speed" written through him.
He looks happy to have them, and he flies past me on a climb like a 9-year-old on Christmas Day. My super fast semi-slick Geax AKA tyres are struggling for a bit of grip on the dry dust so I'm carefully grinding up the steep climbs to keep traction. The four guys in front become five as my buddy storms off through the lead riders. I stick with my pace and loose a bit of ground on the lead group, I know there is a fast fire road at the start finish line so the idea is to catch them with a flat out chase in to the single track.
One place I'm very comfortable is going downhill as fast as possible, but I'm trying to bridge a gap so comfort and control become polar opposites. Attacking one of the off-camber drops in to a loamy berm at top speed wasn't the best plan. The front wheel feels like its hit a brick wall, I'm over the bars at 20 mph. There is an almighty crack and creak as the bars and stem spin 30 degrees around the steerer tube. I roll about 4 metres from the bike and sods law, land on the same dodgy right knee.
As I wrench the bars straight, I watch 10 or so riders come past me. I jump on and give chase, I try for a different gear so I can attack the next climb only to find the Poploc has fouled the gear trigger shift, the roles are turned I'm now on a single speed as Oli is off mashing a full compliment of nine gears. In my haste and rage I just keep going rather than stop and try and fix the problem - I do have a singlespeed bike and fortunately the ratio is pretty close to my default race gear. For the next lap and a half I'm using three gears; big ring, middle and granny. It's not a natural rhythm but it's all I've got so I get on with the job at hand getting past as many riders as possible.
I had no idea how many riders got past me but it seemed like a lot. (Having looked back through the riders I dropped to 18th) My goal of top five in the series felt like it had slipped away, sSo I had nothing to loose, only points to gain so every rider would take me closer to my goal. Time to bury myself. The next 30 minutes felt like 5 minutes, I was making progress and almost hoping the race would last longer to enable me to catch more riders. I'd managed to get past a good number of riders and find myself at the back of the Sigma Sports train of three riders -these are strong guys so I know I must be back in the top ten - the two at the front are "having it" and drop their buddy; I stick with him and catch my breath before I make another move. I'm past the third Sigma rider Dan Braid but the other two look out of reach.
Two more riders in front of me, I'm pretty sure one is a Super Master and the other is Richard Lister (Team Endura) in my cat. The Super Master can hear me as I'm snarling with pain so he lets me past to chase Mr Endura. We're so close to the finish now with probably only 30 seconds of racing left, Gorrick don't make a habit of big wide finishes so we are shoulder to shoulder in the singletrack. I think I must have wanted the extra place and point a lot more as I managed a final burst of energy and barged my way through to finish a respectable eight place. I was in bits on the line and felt a hearty slap from Richard, I apologised but it would seem none was necessary (it was a race after all).
I was confident I had enough points for my top five, so was happy. I was pleased I stuck with it and dragged my body and bike round to the painful end. Always finish the race.
I was greeted by and very unlucky Phil who double punctured and Mr Pepper who had a cheeky smile. "Did you win Oli," I say to him. "Er yes, yes I did," is the reply that comes straight back. Great result for Oli, Gears and KMP.
Gorrick Spring Series 2010 - Masters results
1 Rob Purcell
2 Ollie Taylor Rock and Road Yeovil - Bikecity.biz
3 Neil Johnson Witney Wheelers
4 Dan Braid Sigma/Seven Bikes
5 Frazer Clifford Kinesis Morvelo Project
Full results and more info on the race series at www.gorrick.com
More photos at www.joolzedymond.com