Well, after months of injuring myself and getting ill, I finally managed to compete in my first race today! May well have jumped in at the deep end a bit though! Having browsed the upcoming Easter races in an and around Yorkshire, and having narrowly missed out on a reserve slot in a race last week- I managed to get a ride at the Pete Gannon Memorial Road Race, at Ledston, near Leeds. This bad boy was a National A. open road race, Cat. 2/3/4, over 55 miles of a hilly course. Knew I was in for a kicking when all the 5 grand bikes and riders in bigger teams (Herbalife Wheelbase etc) started turning up! Never the less I had a good crack at it. Did well for the first few laps (of 12), staying up in and around the front 15 (Will Haynes taught me that one) and jockeying for position with the big lads. Even took a turn on the front on the 4th lap when everyone slowed down for a bit (apparently most of them had team mates in the breaks- I had no mates!). My little stint on the front was probably a bad idea, though I didn’t exactly rag it. The major climb of the road circuit was a long winding drag up to the start finish line and I was holding my own on this each time round. However, just after said climb, there was a long exposed flat- this is where the powerhouses kept pushing the pace and attacking, it was also where the big crosswinds were lurking. Starting the 6th lap, just over the crest of the climb, I lost the wheel of the guy in front of me as they all kicked to keep up with an attack, and I wasn’t positioned well (probably in the last 5 of the main bunch). A gap grew, the few lads behind me managed to sprint past and get back on, but I wasn’t big / strong enough to push that pace on my own into the crosswinds and I quickly lost touch (balls!). Well, it’s alright when you’re in the bunch getting pulled along but on your own and into the wind you’ve got no chance of getting back on at that pace- I knew this. The gap grew and I said good bye to the peloton. At this point I’d managed to keep with the rest of them for just over an hour, with an average of 23.3mph- my fastest yet, so I was pretty cool with that. I decided to soldier on, like any good Northerner would, and I wanted to complete my first race. I rode the next hour and a half on my own, and got lapped by all the rest of the field (an 8 man lead break, couple of 3/4 man breaks and the main bunch) by the 10th/11th lap. I brought home the lantern rouge in 2 hours 32 minutes, at an average of just over 21mph- my fastest 2 and a half hour ride to date- so I’m well happy! Also, when I got back to the race headquarters- found out from the race commisaire that a heap of other people found the going tough today- 19 people failed to complete the race! Such a high attrition rate only serves to make me happier, by my reckoning that means I came roughly 41st out of 60. Sick! Sam Walsh (3/04/2011).