The Circuit of Pendle.
An epic fail of a day, how not to go racing.
I got up early enough, warmed up a bottle for my baby girl, took care of the most important job on race day then had breakfast. I got changed then had to make breakfast for daughter number 2. I made up a flask and a bottle then packed my bag. I went to put my new bike in the car and discovered it wouldn’t fit without putting the back seats down, which meant removing the children’s car seats. I eventually got everything packed and realised I was half an hour late setting off.
Fortunately I’d checked the night before where the headquarters were and set off to try and make up some time. Unfortunately I hadn’t allowed much spare time so when I got there I had just about enough time to sign on, build my bike up, pin my number on, get changed and get to the start. At least I thought. I missed my start by about 10 seconds. I wasn’t bothered, it could have been much worse, it could easily have been a couple of minutes. If that was the only problem I’d had today then I’d be quite pleased.
In my haste to get to the start I’d not noticed that at some point between getting into my car and arriving in Whalley I’d passed into the arctic circle. When I got back to the car later I noticed it was only 2 degrees.
As I started my race I reached down to reset my computer so I could keep an eye on my speed and time. Unfortunately I managed to knock it off the bike. I had to stop, run back and pick it up and then get going again. Once I was going, the first thing I noticed was that I seemed to be going quite well, at last a positive. Within about 5 miles I’d started catching riders so it was looking ok. When I caught my minute man I was quite pleased because he looked to be going quite well. By now it had been snowing for a while and I was getting quite cold. This was quite worrying because although I had the main climb coming up which might warm me up, I also had the descent to contend with which would prove quite scary.
Onto the climb of Blacko and I was into wind driven snow. It was bloody freezing, so much that I almost turned back, but I figured I was about half way round so it would be just as far back to the warmth of the car. By the top I had no feeling in my hands or arms, I’d had very little at the bottom but with the gain of height the temperature had dropped. I couldn’t feel the brake levers and I struggled to change gear. As I started the descent I decided the best thing to do was just coast down safely. A bad accident in these conditions would be a thoroughly miserable experience to say the least.
When I got to the main road in Gisburn I thought I would be ok but as I started to pick up speed again on the main road I started shivering so badly I kept getting speed wobbles. I could see a few riders up ahead and thought I’d soon be catching them but for some reason I wasn’t. I knew something wasn’t right but I couldn’t think straight to figure it out. I only had a few miles to go so I just carried on. I coasted down the descents, on one I should have been doing about 40mph but I was coasting at maybe 25, scared I’d pick up a speed wobble from shivering but equally scared of attempting to move my hands to the brakes. At this point I totally gave up, I slowed to a manageable 15 mph and just tried to get to the finish. About half a mile from the finish you pass the road to the change rooms, such hard choice, but I’d come this far and at least it would mean the time keepers wouldn’t be stood in the cold waiting for me. When I got there I stopped straight away. The marshal took one look at me and put me in his car wrapped in a couple of blankets. This is where I stayed for the next 20 minutes until the shivering stopped and I could manage to ride the mile back to the car. Upon arrival at said car my lovely new TT bike was abandoned on the floor while I got in the car and switched every possible heating device on full, stripped off all my cold wet kit and waited the half hour it took to get warm again, slowly adding clothes as I thawed out enough to move my limbs.
At this point things returned to normal, I packed away my bike, went for a chat with some friends, drank a load of coffee and went home. Only difference was I wasn’t really interested in my result.
Today was so epically bad I had to write this straight away before my mind blanks out the details. I’ve been late before, missed my start before, made poor clothing choices before, raced in the snow before. Any thing that went wrong today has happened before and I’ve dealt with it ok, just not all on the same day. I could easily have crashed on any if the corners I was in such a state, if I’d been able to think clearly I would have stopped earlier but I just wanted to get back to a warm car.
Hopefully next week will be a bit better.
Big thanks to the marshals at the finish who looked after me.