I tagged onto the Bedford road cc, fast group, club run this morning.
My aim was to test my legs against some other quick'ish riders and to have a bit of company on a pedal, as I'd done a lot of solo miles recently.
I rode the 10 miles over to the start and saw my Commissaire friend waiting with the group. He said he was going to be chief judge at the Excel races next week and asked if I was going to race. I regret not signing up now as I am feeling better than anticipated and I didn't put on as many kilos as I thought I would over Christmas - I could have also slipped him a few quid to disqualify anyone beating me over the line ;-)
The fast group was made up of five other riders and we went off at a reasonable pace and I sat in to get used to riding in their group. I soon learned not to sit on the wheel of one of the group as he was constantly clearing his nose the farmer's way without much regard for anyone behind him. I worked out the best position in the group was up the front or tail-end-Charley but after hitting a pot hole which hadn't been called out I figured up front was best.
I tested the group out on a couple of hills and the Festive 500km paid dividends. After a big climb one of the group commented on my smooth cadence which, again, I put down to the good base miles over Winter.
At 35 miles into the ride I noticed that some of the group had started to do stretching - backs and legs - yet I was still feeling fine. They made the decision to fit in a cafe stop which was fine by me as I hadn't had my caffeine fix for the morning. But 4 miles out from the cafe I was dealt a lesson in race tactics.
I had moved right to the back after traversing an icey corner and was sitting on the wheel of the one of the group when the front riders went off...hard. I missed the move and when I realised the cyclist in front of me wasn't going to chase it was too late. I tried to pursue them to join the sprint to the cafe and I closed the gap on a climb but I couldn't bridge it totally and the group ahead, working together, arrived at the cafe before me. Nice move and so much for the play acting stretches.
On the return leg I received some other tips, in particular about saving my energy on the climbs and staying in the group - keeping my powder dry. We'll see.