Pleven and Dol-de-Bretagne Road Races

The french cycling trip was one of the best experiences of my life for many reasons, i got to know other riders and got to experience racing abroad for the first time, unfortunately my french trip wasn’t so successful due to a lack of training but that didn’t mean i didn’t enjoy myself.
Race day 1- Pleven, This was a 3.1km circuit which featured 2 hills, i was nervous as this was my first race away from jersey and was unsure what it was going to be like and what standards the riders were going to be at, on the start line i felt intimidated by the french riders and the nerves started to kick in then the countdown began, the race started slow then riders started to attack as the pace got faster and faster, after a lap i got dropped by the main pack but still ahead of a few riders, i got dropped on the hills as that is what i struggle with within cycling and was unable to fight my way back into the pack, i started cycling round on my own for a few laps until the groups infront started to lap me as they came past i would stick with the riders that came easily until it got to the hills where i would get dropped again and again and stick with any riders that came by on the flat, i wasn’t put off by being dropped on the hills as it is all a part of a learning curve, the crowd was slightly smaller this day but was still always a good buzz when going down the finishing straight with everyone cheering and clapping you on and this is what kept me going. Overall it was a fun race and it gave me a chance to prepare myself for the next day and what to expect from the other riders.

Race day 2- Dol De Bretange, This was a slightly flatter but longer 4.2km circuit that was completely flat and out in the open, i was less nervous for this race as i knew what to expect from the day before and felt proud to be in jersey kit after a successful minimes race with jack rive taking a second place, we lined up as the riders started to follow and a few minutes later after a bit of conflict about the gears the race started, the race started at a medium pace this time and kept that way for a lap until an attack was put out on the finishing straight i managed to hang on and work my way back just so at the end of the next lap i could be dropped again, i looked back and saw riders behind me gaining on me at this point i decided to hit the gas and go into a TT mode for the next 25 miles i opened the gap and maintained the speed throughout the race i only got lapped once this race by the main pack and managed on stay on with them as they came past for a lap, this day the crowd was out in force, as you came along the home straight the crowds would cheer you on even if you had been dropped, this is what i enjoyed most about the trip is the high spirit level and good sportsmanship within the riders and the crowd. In this race jersey rider Rhys pilly managed to secure a 3rd place and get a chance to “talk” to the commentator and this was the highlight of the trip, this was because the commentator was asking rhys all these questions in french and all rhys had to say was oui. Overall from this day i learnt about placement in that pack and couldn’t have enjoyed it anymore.

I would like to thank the sponsors of the JCAYA for being able to make this trip possible and mostly thank the two coaches Helene and John for they key organisational skills and their support throughout both days. This was one of the best experiences of my life and was a major learning curve for next time looking forward to be able to do something like this again.

Oliver Maltwood

Pleven and Dol-de-Bretagne Road Races

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