WCMCC C grade road race Herne Hill 21 April 2013
My first race with the West Coast Masters, it was suggested I should race C grade. Happy to oblige, while I am a D grade at Peel, given it is now road race season, I should earn promotion in the couple of months to C grade. I was treating this race as a big learning experience.
It it was going to be interesting 6 laps, 57km race on a course I was riding for the first time with 34 participants. First couple of laps, I settled down the back and was happy there, The third lap, moved up had a look around, did a short turn on the front and then spent some time riding in the first third of the pack. Before drifting back down the group. It was a pretty uneventful race for almost 5 laps at a pretty hectic pace for me of 38 kph. Though it was not constant, sharp acceleration out of corner for 500m, steady pace till next corner, sharp acceleration out of corner for 500m and so on.
Early on the 5th lap, we got passed by 3 escapees from A grade. Expecting the rest of A, but nothing. Last corner of the 5th lap, a couple of cars, made the corner interesting, I was one of the people who got the line wrong and somebody on the front put the hammer down. Took about 3km of chasing to get back on, I got on as the group slowed and was passed by A grade. A grade never really distanced C grade, as well approached the final corner, C grade was attempting to pass A grade, when there was a touch of wheels. I saw a bike flying through the air and heard a sickening thud. Attempted evasive action, locked the rear brake, felt a bump on the rear, collided with the rider in front and we went down,we were not the only ones, around 10 of us hit the deck. Got up, starting disentangling bikes, when we realised one rider was not getting up. He had hit his head hard on the ground at speed.
Luckily one of the riders was a paramedic, another called an ambulance, another went for the club first aid officer and I helped out by slowing traffic, as the injured rider remained on the road. After our fallen comrade was placed in the ambulance, we finished the last kilometre or so at a sedate pace, finishing some 30 minutes after everybody else.
Up until the crash, I was enjoying the race and hoping to finish in the front half. However the crash put a big downer on the day.