Firstly is a massive thank you to Dunfermline Cycling Club who put on a perfect example of a road race. There is good reason as to why so many people want to take part in your race every year and I am grateful to have been given the chance this time around. Thank you!
Big shout and thanks to Steve Murphy for spending his day taking fantastic pictures of both the women’s and men’s races.
Dunfermline is a CAT 3/4 road race I have tried to get a ride in, funnily enough, three or four times now. I finally got an acceptance to this super popular race this year.
It’s actually my “local” race if you base it on where I was born and grew up. Only five miles away from where I spent twenty two years of my life.
Sensations were good and I felt fit from training going really well this past month. My brain was in a great place too as I knew the course and finally got a ride in my local race which I have always wanted to compete in…. You put all these things together and typically it (SHOULD) result in good things. Not on this occasion though. The big fat DNF next to my name on the results is testament to that! First thing’s first though. I was NOT one of the many dudes DQ’d for repeatedly ignoring marshal’s & moto riders advice on crossing the central white line. I DNF’d through personal health issues and not from being naughty.
It’s always nice to race with people you know and even nicer to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a long time. Martyn had arranged to meet me as he got a start as well. Martyn races for Edinburgh Road Club and lives in Edinburgh. I know him because he is born and bred in the house next door to where I live now in the Highland’s. It’s a pretty awesome coincidence to say the least but I was happy to have him at the race and catch up because I’ve not seen him for four months.
We got our warmup done together on what we knew would be the toughest part of the course. This year would be a complete flip reversal to how this course usually runs. That being due to the wind coming from the East rather than the usual South-West. That also explains why it was so damn cold despite the sun shining so brightly. The section of road that is toughest most years was set to become super fast with the unusual heavy tail wind.
(Tummy) Cramping My Style:
I really felt like I was going well especially on the section into the headwind which also had the majority of the climbing per lap. Moving up the bunch was pretty easy on that section so I took a few laps just sat mid-bunch and on lap three I moved up for a closer look on the front. Nothing was getting away up the road as Team Andrew Allan Architecture had six riders controlling things. I moved up and done a couple of spells on the front to see who was keen. Jamie Davidson from Bioracer-Moriarty was doing good shifts on the front. I knew he would be a man to watch in this as I know how strong he is.
One of the AAA lads had a dig on the fast tailwind section at the top of the course. This put the bunch into action because everyone knew as soon as a pink jersey got up the road the rest of his team would shut anything else down. Still nothing was sticking and there was a lot of yo-yo-ing on the go in the bunch. I think mostly because guys were all feeling strong/good whilst it was running at good pace. People just wanted to have a go and not miss out as the race got near half way.
A moto rider then came up within the bunch and forced his way in mid pack. We are all used to moto’s but I have never seen one do this in a 3/4 race to be honest. Most of us knew why he was doing it and this was due to people constantly riding over the middle white line. The silly thing about this though is that people weren’t doing it when safe/good visibility in order to make moves up the bunch. They were just riding out there constantly and not making progress up the bunch. Even with the moto placed directly on their wheel in between telling other people off, they were still sitting out there before he would get up beside them and rightfully have a word.
After lap number five of the nine is when things went a bit bizarre for me. I’d taken an SIS caffeine gel on lap four and my stomach was starting to churn. We took the left turn to start the easy descent back down for another lap and I let the bunch ride through as I had a serious cramp come on in my stomach. Right down in the pit of my belly and my rib cage felt like it was trying to crush my insides! It eased off and I realised the bunch was actually tiny now as not many guys came past. I guess the pace was actually quicker than I had even realised at this point based on the riders left.
The course was so free flowing here I knew I would just pedal back on easy so I took a good drink and just hoped it was a one off cramp and I’d be fine. Nope! Another cramp up and this time even my shoulders and arms went solid. I’ve never ever had something like that happen to me. It was to the point I got really worried about it and knew something was really not right with me.
My decision then (through a bit of proper panic to be honest) was to just ride back to my car and be done with it. I never even contemplated that I would carry on or had any “what-if’s” run through my head as I was that worried about what was happening to me. My first ever DNF.
Was it the Gel? Or Something Sinister?:
I had a Secret Training caffeine gel in my pocket as well as the SIS one I took on board. I’ve used the Secret Training ones in the past with no issues but this was the first SIS one I had used (I’ve used plenty SIS gels but never this caffeine one). With how quickly the cramping came on and the fact it left so quickly after I got back home, I honestly thought it was the gel. I even went out for 70KM’s the day after Dunfermline and was totally fine with no symptoms to speak of.
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday was then a right off. I had Monday/Tuesday as annual leave from work and they were spent being sick or sleeping. Horrific tummy bug and 2KG lost. It really caught me by surprise and flipped my thoughts on the matter from it being the gel, to being a bug that’s been lingering in my system.