Apr 5, 2011
Dengie Marshes “Hell of the East” Road Race
Long ago, when the new “Primal Europe / RUTT / Ricci” started to form, somebody thought it would be a good idea and go and try to get publicity by doing the Dengie Marshes RR. So Saturday afternoon – the Terminator (Martin Smith) and myself set off for Essex – meeting up with management (James and Judith) at a Travel Lodge just down the road from the race itself.
Saturday night involved some carbo loading (well Guiness anyway) and a carvery of ham and chicken (oh how the pros live).
Sunday morning was a lazy start (the race did not start until 2pm) and so involved even more carbo loading – plenty of toast, beans and scrambled eggs, with fresh coffee on free top-ups. And then onto mixing the CNP products ready for the days racing – and boy did we need it…
Signing on to brought it home what we were up against – when you see the start sheet with Rapha, Raleigh, Sigma Sport, 100%ME, Motorpoint (and a few others) you tend to put it to the back of your mind. When you see the car park full of pro vehicles you know it’s for real (incidentally the start sheet quoted that 92% of the entries were Elite) – you know perhaps today would be more of attrition rather than racing (just let the big boys fight it out at the front and just hang-on for as long a possible).
So the race began at the bottom of the town (Burnham-on-Crouch) and within 100 meters the speed went ballistic. Those in the know were trying to get to the front as the first few miles where along a narrow single lane. At this point (i.e. barely 3-4 miles into the race) the peloton split in half. At this point I thought that’s it – Rapha were leading the first group and were setting an electrifying pace. James, Martin and myself were in the second group – however Jamie had an early mechanical and had to drop off the back. That just left Martin and myself and a group of about 20 riders trying to catch the main group. And we did – not sure what was happening at the front of the race – but we got back on after about 45 minutes racing. Just in time for the second off road section.
Bang! It was carnage – people falling and puncturing everywhere!!! Managed to stay upright and not puncture but the main peloton had split again. More chasing and after a few miles managed to get back on. The race then had a really easy lull – I think Rapha and Motorpoint were just eyeing each other up.
On the next lap and into the off road section again and whoosh it goes ballistic again. Head down and concentrating on keeping the wheel in front was the mistake I made – I looked up and there was about 6 riders down – tried to avoid the mayhem and went off the side and head first into a ditch. Ouch – I was stunned – but having raced MTB’s for many years I just naturally got myself up and got back on – only to chase the bunch, yet again! At this point I did not know my helmet was smashed and I had cut my nose from my glasses. Shout out to the Sunwise Equinox glasses – they didn’t break and are still looking good!!!
The next lap I told myself I should get to the front before hitting the off-road section again. Don’t think so… when we started getting close to this section the pace went through the roof and I was just about hanging off the back. Again – coming out of the off-road section I was chasing the main group (however it was getting smaller every time). It was re-assuring when there were a few other riders with me from the likes of Sigma Sport and Orbea-Goodness Shakes trying to get back on.
Going into the off-road section for the final time I was starting to feel more confident as the group was getting smaller – however I suffered some serious cramp in my left quad – never have had cramp in quads before! I just couldn’t put the power down to stay with the group. Game over for me. I had to ride the last 10 miles on my own – coming across the marshes into the head-wind was character building. I crossed the finishing line (although the marshals had already packed up) but I felt I had won my race for the day. The Cyborg (Martin) did well – staying with the majority of the riders and getting 18th!!!
A good days racing – helped greatly by Judith giving roadside support, plus performing chores at the end of the race which helped immensely. Hopefully the team can gain some momentum knowing that for an amateur team we can hold our heads high with respect.
Apparently Jamie counted me in at number 31, but he is not sure if some of the other riders were still racing. I think I was also the last person to finish, but finish I did! Team Raleigh had 8 riders to start and 0 to finish.
Photos courtesy of LondonCycleSport.com