This past weekend it was the Eastbourne Cycling Festival, and taking centre stage on Saturday evening was a Fixed Gear Crit hosted by none other but The North London Thundercats (NLTCBMBC). Thundercrit On Sea is the latest installment of the UK’s premier Fixed Crit.
NLTCBMBC rider John Karlo Corpuz raced the Men’s A race finishing within the top 10 and was kind enough to put together a diary of his day by the seaside.
Words – John Karlo Corpuz
Race day started slow, I woke up at 10:30am to have my coffee, I was relaxed until I had no time to get ready (like every other time). I rushed to have my shower, shave my legs and pack my bags all in 20 mins. By the time I left the house, I realised that I forgot my 15T cog and chain whip which I thought I had packed last night.
I got to the train station and met with some friends. By the time the train started moving, I started eating the pasta which my mum had made for me, I drank a lot of water and tried to chill. This time, I made sure to relax and not do any training the day before the race.
When we arrived in Eastbourne, we immediately went to find our hotel and luckily it was just one mile away from the station and it was literally in front of the race track.
Straight after checking-in we headed to race sign on and socialise with other people. Once we had signed on and pinned race numbers, I caught up with racers I know from all over the UK, Europe and further afield who had travelled to the race.
We were lucky enough to have 30 mins to test ride the track and recce the tight corners before the start of Men’s B race, I used this time to see how fast I could run the corners and to make sure I had the right gear ratio on my bike. On the first lap of the test run, someone crashed into the barrier on corner two, this made me think that maybe they are really tight when you go full gas so I thought I’d try to go faster for a lap. It turned out that the corners are very tight and if we were not careful there could be a crash.
The Men’s B race started and I wanted to cheer for the boys specially Henry, my team mate from NLTCBMBC and another friend Si. The race looked hard which made me nervous. I watched until Men’s B race finished and congratulated the guys who finished for their performance.
Using the rollers area set up by the guys from our team sponsor Altura I made sure that I was properly warmed up for my race so I started warming up when the Women’s race started. I made sure that I was hydrated and focused. I also ensured that there was no lactic acid hanging about my body. I ate an OTE bar while warming up and made sure to eat a gel just before the start of the race.
The Men’s A race started with a neutral lap led out by a car and a cool motorbike. Although this was a neutral lap all the racers knew that this was your chance to fight for your position, if you missed it, you’ll be at the back chasing the tail of the main bunch. I made sure to be up the front and not let it get away.
As the neutral lap was about to finish, I made sure that I was ready to go full gas, as expected, when the lead car left the course, everyone started sprinting and fighting for position. I prepared myself for the race being full gas from the start and made sure not to lose the wheel in front of me.
The race was hard core!!! The tight corners became very tight corners with the pace we were doing, I was grateful to have the support of our sponsor Spin on These wheels which with their wide design made the cornering much more bearable. The road surface on the race circuit wasn’t perfect, in fact there were some potholes located right on the corners and if you hit them with low PSI, this could mean a snake bite puncture and the end of your race! This was the case for a few unfortunate people. I was lucky enough to keep 100-110 PSI in my tyres and I hit those potholes with no worries of having a puncture.
The race was really hard, people were sprinting left and right, attacking, keeping the pace high which resulted in a lot of people getting dropped. In the middle of the race, I started getting a stitch, but I thought, fuck it, just breathe and keep pushing ,luckily it went away and I started feeling good again (thanks to my step dad for the technique).
Eventually, it started getting dark and it became hard for us to see the potholes. Luckily, I made the right decision to race with a pair of clear lenses in my glasses so I had the best visibility I could have in the dark conditions.
The race continued with a high pace and some dodgy moves from a few people who wanted to gain position whatever the cost, I was a bit annoyed but that’s racing and I just needed to let it go and continue racing.
With five laps to go and I started getting cramps, especially in my left leg, I started pedalling with my heel lower than my toes ( Wiggo’s pedal stroke) and started sitting further back to stretch the muscle a little bit. I was in bits so I stopped trying to gain positions from 3 laps to go and planned to go on the last lap.
On the last lap, I didn’t gain many positions because I left it too late to move up. Alec Briggs went full gas with half a lap to go and it made it harder to gain positions in the remaining meters of the race. I sprinted from the last corner until the finish line hoping to overtake some people but it was too late and I finished 8th.
I went for another lap slowly to cool down and started thanking my team mates and everyone for their support and hoped that they enjoyed the show. I was happy to finish the race without hitting the deck, with no mechanical issues and I was happy to finish in top 10 in such a strong field. I hope we can run the race again next year, Thundercrit on Sea was amazing!