Heather Hobbs Tour of Cambridge June’18 Race Review

Sunday June 3rd was the 4th Tour of Cambridge Sportive. I wasn’t going to do this one as I’ve already done it twice but, as a World Championship Road Race qualifier it’s an opportunity for another cycling holiday, and they’re fun!
I talked Veronica Shadbolt, ex Tri Forcer, good friend and (racing) arch enemy into riding with me. She might be tiny but a little pocket rocket on a bike, hopefully we could help each other round!
The day started rather gloomy but it soon brightened up and by the, very civilised start at 12 noon the day was turning into another scorcher. About 11am, after near miss no. 1 – a flat thanks to a split front tyre, we waved goodbye to Gordon (who would undoubtedly qualify again if only he could stay upright on his bike, the odds being about 50:50) and headed to the 21mph+ start pen.
A good proportion of the riders in this pen didn’t stand a hope in hell of riding at 21mph+ so we wanted to get near the front. A last minute ‘comfort break’ was near miss no. 2. Veronica kindly pushed my bike to the start line while I was in the ladies. When I came out I couldn’t find her or my bike. I had to push my way through the hoards of cyclists who had gone into the gate behind her. The marshals weren’t overly keen on letting me through without a bike either. I had visions of the gun going of and me not having a bike to ride!
But I found her and repaid her kindness by dropping her like a hot potato as soon as the starter shouted ‘GO!’. She’ll catch me I thought, and besides, I couldn’t look round. When your in a peloton of 50 race crazy cyclists, the last thing you want to do is be looking anywhere other than at the wheel in front of you. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
Near miss no. 3 came about 10 miles in, when thanks to the sh*ty Cambridgeshire roads my 2nd bottle cage sheered off curtesy of a massive pot hole. Luckily it hit my leg and bounced into the verge and not my (or anyone else’s) wheel!
I was still, just about, in touch with one or other of the pelotons for another 10 miles before near miss no. 4. We were all slowed by the race motorbike and an ambulance attending the first of half a dozen casualties (less than previous years I think). I couldn’t help but look, and ‘Oh no!’ He was covered in blood and wearing a green strip. Gordon was wearing green. At that point I temporarily lost my ability to concentrate and I dropped off the peloton and panicked, until I remembered that Gordon was on a red bike, the one on the deck was black. It wasn’t him, thank God!
I did mile or so largely on my own while I regained my composure before a very nice chap from ‘Woosh Cambridge’ politely offered me his wheel. He even waited for me on a couple of the many, many corners! What a gent! Thank you no 7984 you are officially awesome 👍
For those of you not familiar with road racing, it’s customary for the pack to accelerate hard out of corners. In previous years this has always caught me out. If the pack didn’t drop me on the hills, which they usually do, then they’d definitely drop me on the corners. This year, thanks a little more experience and a lot of effort, they didn’t. After a short stretch of my guardian angel and I taking turns on the front we were caught by a pack that carried us for the next 50 miles. I had to chase hard to get back on on every corner but otherwise we just sat in the pack and got dragged along. You couldn’t relax your concentration for a moment as hazards including ‘casualties’, slower riders and ‘traffic calming’ road furniture was everywhere.
In the last 10 miles or so the pack started to fragment as we hit a few more hills and folk were starting to tire. That’s when being a distance triathlete came into its own. I still had plenty in the tank. Not a lot of raw speed but endurance by the bucket load, me. We started to shed riders everywhere but I stayed with the front of our pack and even managed to overtake a few on the sprint finish.
Finish time 3h 23:44. 13 mins quicker than last year. I found my guardian angel in the crowd and gave him a big sweaty hug for helping me through the hard bits.
Finally a genuine miss, my chip didn’t register, so officially I didn’t even start.

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