Zappi’s Crit - Enstone

Photo by Pete Smith.

Last Sunday was a timely reminder of why I love cycling so much; riding in the sunshine with friends and feeling part of a really awesome club. These things can be easily forgotten during the cold, dark evenings and endless turbo sessions.

Unfortunately the remaining Abingdon Airfield crits were all cancelled in February, so I was pleased to see that Zappi’s were putting on two women only races as part of their series at Enstone this month (I was even more pleased that they were afternoon races allowing me a lie-in).

A bunch of us rode out together, and when we arrived there were even more friendly faces there. The men’s cat 4 race was first, so we cheered on the three Condors who were racing — Ben finishing with an impressive 2nd place, even after a slight detour onto the grass, and Arran was super strong in the bunch sprint behind to grab 5th.

Not long after, the women’s race was on. From what we’d already seen, the circuit was pretty technical. One hairpin in particular seemed to be catching people out, plenty of pedals clipping the ground (and the aforementioned grass deviation) despite the commissaire’s warning not to try and pedal through that corner.

We had a couple of warm-up/recon laps before the start, which suggested that the interesting stuff was going to happen on the headwind/more technical side of the circuit. Sure enough, after the first lap proper, a super strong cat 2 rider made a break for it that no one could follow.

I was in a group of about seven following after but we weren’t cohesive at all, the attacks kept coming and before long we were splintered. There was one decisive attack that I killed myself trying to follow, but couldn’t quite make it. Luckily another girl had also jumped and we started working together — as it stood there were three ahead of us. I was so far into the red that I didn’t even see the lap board counting down until the bell went for the last lap. I had a cheeky little attempt to drop my companion around the hairpin into the headwind but didn’t make it so pulled over and got on her wheel for the remainder until she started sprinting for the line. I waited as long as possible but then went for it with everything, amazingly I was catching her! She had another kick and we were neck and neck, I think I just edged it as I threw my bike forwards over the line (the official results aren’t out yet).

Obviously I hope I got 4th, but more than that I was so happy with my sprint, it’s improved amazingly. I know I wouldn’t have been able to compete in that way previously, so it’s super rewarding to see training paying off.

The guys had stayed to cheer us on and a big group of us all rode back into Oxford together. I’m sure some endorphins had a part to play, but I felt so happy! What could be better than riding my bike with a bunch of lovely people in the sunshine ?

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