Report from Ryan Visser below:
I decided to enter on the line there after Perfs was cancelled - I'd spent the week tapering down for it so I was a bit disappointed that i wasn't going to get a proper road race in, but with such bad conditions forecast I didn't exactly fancy three hours in the driving wind and rain. Turns out we got an hour of that at Preston Park instead.
Surprisingly, the numbers were quite low compared to previous weeks. We've been getting 30+ for the Cat 3s and 25+ for the E12s, so I was expecting at least 20. However, I think we had about 10 on the day, so we were in for another hour of hard work without a bunch to stay nice and warm in.
In terms of weather in was the worst I've ever raced (or ridden in). We easily had 35 to 40 mph gusts rolling in, three or four big squalls that brought hail and driving rain, at one point cutting visibility to perhaps 15 metres. It was crazy - during one gust both Simon and I were kicked a good metre across the road. Nuts.
Anyway, after the usual attacks after the first ten minutes, James Local from Dynamo drifted off the and got half a lap up the road. So far the small bunch had worked over-time to close every little dig down, so once James was up the road, I was expecting Simon Brookes to bridge across. Sure enough, Simon attacked a few laps later and made it across to James. I went pretty quickly after Simon, and made the junction to form a break of three. The bunch wasn't too pleased with this, and chased hard to keep us in sight. As usual, we pushed the pace as hard as we could - James taking shorter turns as he was out front a little longer (and clearly struggling with the higher pace), me driving as hard as I could and, after a few laps, Simon starting to take shorter turns. Sure enough, Simon attacked again, forcing me to chase hard and ditching James altogether. We then settled down into a two man pursuit and put a couple of laps into the bunch before we got to the finish. By this time, I'd been pushing well over my threshold for 40 minutes, and was beginning to hang. I think Simon knew he wouldn't do so well in the sprint, so, with two laps left, he waited for me to finish a turn before putting in a big dig. I didn't have a whole lot left to chase, so he managed to get away to win by a few seconds.
Anyway, it was a good race, even if the numbers were low. As far as training goes, I felt like it was a much harder work out than racing in a larger bunch, so I'm happy to have been there for it.