I actually had a plan for this race, which was get to the front and stay there as a lot of riders will get dropped in first frantic ten minutes. If nobody was willing to set a fast pace, I was going to.
The race started badly, I was in the third row, about 10 metres past the line and clipped in, the rider in front of me stopped. I tried to squeeze past on the right, only to have him shift right, collected the should of the rider on my right, narrowly missed the stopped rider and I ended up at the back of the pack.
Approaching the tricky downhill and off camber 2nd corner, people braked heavily and even then unable to hold a line. Even taking a cautious approach I picked up a few places. Was mid pack for the next corner, other than a rough surface, I thought it was a fast corner, nobody else did. More chaos of braking and inability to hold a line.
That was enough for me, I went to the front with the aim to stretch the bunch. Within half a lap and without a big effort I was off the front. The next lap I continued to build a lead, nobody was willing to chase or bridge. If this was a club race I would go for it, but this was an open race. If I won the race with a solo breakaway from lap one, it would look like I picked an easy grade and not reflect well on PDCC as I was racing in my club colours.
So I eased back a little, took another couple of laps for the bunch to catch me. I sat on the front driving hard out of corners and making sure I was on the wheel of any rider trying their luck. After a couple of laps, the action stopped and the bunch was rolling round at a reasonable pace. So I dropped back to see what damage I had caused and get a short breather at the back.
I was not paying attention when a rider went off the front, When I saw what had happened, I hoped somebody would chase. Nobody did and in just over a lap the escapee had built a good break. So I went to the front and started chasing. After two laps, I realised the gap was about the same and the bunch was struggling to stay on my wheel.
I was not going to catch him, the gap was too big and there was nobody able or willing to help, so I dropped to the back of the bunch and let the winner go.
Sitting at the back, was an interesting experience, the cornering was suspect. The worse was the 2nd corner, I passed a struggling rider on the approach, then I hear “inside”, not a problem I was taking a wide line, only to hear the screeching of carbon rims and see a front wheel almost take out my front wheel. I braked hard, lost momentum, got onto his rear wheel, only to find he had no kick out of the corner. Burnt a couple of matches to get back on.
Next few laps, it was go to the front, ride hard for a lap, get my line right through the corners and work on my tactics. With two laps to go, I wanted to be first into the 2nd corner, hit it hard out of the corner, as so far nobody held my wheel through that the corner and go. If I got caught on the back straight, attack again out of the next corner and if I did not get free try the 2nd corner again on the final lap.
When the clock showed we had completed our 25 minutes, the plan swung into action and went to the front. Unfortunately the reticulation came on the property on the 2nd corner and there was water on my line. I touched my rear brake to wash off a little speed, a split second later it felt like my rear brake had grabbed. It was not until after the race I realised it was probably another rider predicting my tactics, but not my braking, rubbing his front wheel against my rear. That caused me to pause for a couple of seconds before accelerating. I could not get separation, out of the next corner tried again, had the riders behind strung out but no gap. Eased back a little as we went up the home straight, a rider passed on the outside when we were given the two laps to go sign.
I was willing to turn myself inside out for another lap not two, so I signalled the other riders through, jumped on the back. This was going to be difficult, the pace was up, I needed to recover for the sprint and move up the pack. I got a few places by cornering better than most, but got scared out of a couple places by some suicidal riding. I was well back rounding the last corner, I kicked and picked up a couple of places for 12th.