As I rolled up to the start line I felt trepidatious. I was racing for the first time, at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, a course so notorious for crashes that it is affectionately (or perhaps not-so-affectionately) referred to as ‘Spillingdon’.
Chuck into the mix some of the foulest weather I have ever ridden a bike in (icy rain and a little bit of snow right before the off), plus my general nerves about racing for the first time, and it was always going to go badly.
After a couple of laps to recce the course, I took my place pretty far back on the starting ‘grid’. In truth, there is no grid, it’s just five lines of riders trying to nose their bikes as close to the front as possible. And then I waited for some sort of safety briefing, like you’d get at a sportive where they bang on about it not being a race, to ride sensibly, obey road laws and so forth. Except this was a race and the bloke charged with giving us the briefing seemed more than happy to just let us crack on.