Cycling Column by aspiring professional rider Toby Miles - What it’s like to race

PUBLISHED: 15:38 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:41 28 February 2018

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

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Toby Miles from Codicote will be writing a brand new cycling column at CometSport in 2018.

Toby is an aspiring professional cyclist who will aim to give you the inside track on his attempts to become a top-level rider.

He will also offer advice and share his racing experiences in the UK and the continent.

Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie. Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

On Saturday I rode my first race of the season, finally getting to line-up after the off-season.

I entered an event at Hog Hill, a circuit in East London. The main feature of the course is the short but steep ‘Hoggenburg’ climb, which the finish line sits atop.

It’s a tough 1.2-mile course and in a one-hour race like Saturday, we complete around 25 laps.

After a disrupted winter training period, I started the race with the issues I am seeing a chiropractor for ironed out, but lacking some fitness and not expecting a result.

After replacing parts worn down by winter and taking the mudguards off my bike, my Focus Cayo felt fast.

I did a steady warm-up before it was time to race. The nerves I felt driving in were gone at the start-line, and I relaxed into the focused state that comes naturally now.

It’s a feeling of confidence, an empty mind that is ready to react to the race as I use learned race instincts for technical aspects.

Racing is about calculating when it’s important to use energy or stay sheltered in the pack, whether that’s making a winning move or riding to the front of the pack to avoid splits caused by exhausted riders or crashes.

Of course, riders must be near the front to win in a mass sprint, so a battle for position occurs, with riders using every inch of road, leaning on each other and clashing shoulders, to move into contention.

There was none of that on Saturday as it was very windy. The pace was high and riders split into small groups early. I showed my rustiness by not being closer to the front for the hill and I was caught behind the riders that were struggling. Once the gap was formed I didn’t have strong enough riders with me to help close it.

It’s frustrating to watch the front group ride away but after waiting a few laps to recover, I accelerated away from the group I was in. Two riders joined me and we worked well together to the end, where I didn’t quite have the finishing kick to beat them, and I finished 11th.

It was a satisfactory performance but now it’s back to the freezing lanes of North Herts to keep improving, maybe I’ll see you out there.

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