Chris Jubb....My First criterium race

In the first of a new series, Chris Jubb talks about his first (indoor) road race.


"'Chris, we need someone to represent LCC in the Nocturne media race at next week's Bike Show.' An internal request from LCC's Comms Manager was greeted with a somewhat flippant 'ok, whatever' tripping from my lips.  The next thing I know, I faced almost daily reminders from colleagues building up to the day- there was no backing out!

While my first foray into criterium racing had been thrust upon me, it is a concept that I'd been considering- not living too far from the Hillingdon circuit, I really needed a push into the unknown.  And before I knew it race day was here.

My first dilemma was easy: winter 'hack' bike or summer dream machine.  I opted for the 'Graeme Obree special'; ready-made with excuses of dodgy headset, wheel and chain slippage.  But my secret weapon as saw it was that I had a cycling partner in the race, with longstanding friend Greg Woodford from CTC also entered.

Pre-race we discussed tactics of him utilising his time trial skills and me freewheeling behind him as much as possible (with me obviously pulling ahead in the final lap to take the title).  Luckily a few warm-up circuits confirmed what lay ahead over 20 laps (600 metres a lap) and it was a relief to know the dodgy headset would withstand the tight corners.  The world's first indoor crit had just ended and the media racers were asked to assemble.  After a briefing it was time to take to the line with 20 others.

Then we were off.  I managed to nab the inside line and found myself in second spot.  I felt reassured that Greg would be close on my tail and would be sure to overtake me anytime soon so my freewheeling could commence.  But the pace was fierce form the off and the trackside commentary helped ensure that pace was maintained.  And sitting in second place, I knew it was only a matter of time and cycling etiquette before I would need to do a turn at the front.  After about two laps I duly took to the front.  Coming around the sharp right-hander, I glanced up to find my boss, Matt, ringing a cow bell in my ear form behind the barriers!

The lungs were starting to burn after only the third lap and there was no way I was capable of holding on for another 17, so I readily allowed a couple of riders to come through.  There was no let-up in pace and a vague 'frothing' at the mouth was quickly accepted.

10...9...6...4 laps to go bleated the commentator.  Then with two laps left, there were four ahead of me.  I nudged slowly towards the fourth-placed rider, Matt Barbet from TV's Daybreak show.  With the benefit of his slipstream, I remained patient and decided the only chance was to undercut him on the last corner.  It could have gone horribly wrong, but he slightly overcooked it and I grabbed my chance to finish in fourth, 11 seconds behind the winner. 

Great fun.  And I now plan to repeat the thrill of the chase in my first Cat4 race at Hillingdon." 

Chris Jubb is London Cycling Campaigns Business Development Manager.

This article first appeared in London Cyclist April/May 2013 magazine, delivered free to LCC members every two months.