The highs and lows of learning to race

It’s been a while since KONM provided a Worst Rider update. This is mainly because a lot of water – or perhaps lactic acid – has passed under the bridge since the previous missive.

Earlier in the year, KONM mentioned the club league in which KONM’s first tentative steps as a racer would take place. Well, at the time of writing, that league is 13 rounds deep and KONM is sitting in 7th place out of the 107 riders who’ve signed on for at least one race or more.

Don’t get excited, though; KONM’s lofty position is very much under threat. Here’s how the “GC” of this 21-stage league looks at the moment (with other riders’ names blacked out in case they don’t want their names plastered across the internet):

club league top 10

You’ll notice something of a trend in KONM’s results. Namely that after Round 7, KONM hasn’t registered a single point for placing (Top 6 finishers get 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 points respectively, plus the 5 points everyone gets for signing on).

That’s because from Round 8 onward, KONM was upgraded to SS (semi-scratch), the second-highest category in the league, the members of which battle with S (scratch), the highest category, for the points in road races. Essentially, that means KONM is now attempting to survive at a level where most opponents are stronger and more experienced racers.

This bodes extremely poorly for holding onto a top 10 spot in the club league, but is a really great thing in the long run. It’s a pleasure – a privilege, actually – to compete against some very serious and very accomplished racers, one or two of whom are among the best in the country.

The beauty of this league is that it allows you to race in this company and to learn from how they ride. For a novice racer like KONM, this is invaluable as part of the ultimate goal to participate on the open circuit (ie, the formal, categorised national cycling pyramid run by Cycling Ireland).

Eight rounds remain in the league and KONM would be thrilled to cling onto that top 10 berth, but a top 15 finish is a more realistic and achievable aim. What’s more important, however, is to take the lessons learned and sharpness earned into open racing next season – or perhaps even later this summer…

So, what next?

Honestly, it’s hard to know.

On the face of it, KONM is ahead of schedule in relation to where I thought I’d be at this point. On the other hand, there’s now a real awareness of just how much work needs to be done (a lot) before I reach the level at which I want to be – and, frankly, I’m not even sure what that is.

Still, all this has led to thoughts of testing the waters in open races in July, August or September, with the Tuesday night “Mondello Series” criteriums looking particularly attractive in the immediate short-term.

There’s a round of the series set for July 16 that has been pencilled into the diary. These races are fast-moving criteriums on a lumpy-ish, closed-off motor-racing track not far from Dublin – and are almost certainly too sprinter-friendly for a rider like KONM.

But if you don’t try you won’t find out, right? So there’s every chance KONM will take to the start line in just over a fortnight. It’ll be a good indicator of where I stand.

Wish me luck. I will definitely, definitely need it.

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