Race report by John Myburgh
Four of Team Chronomaster’s riders headed north to take part in the 11th round of the 2014 CDNW Road Race League held at Ulverston. John Bamford, Darran Acton and myself was taking part in the 3/4s race while Karl Owen was flying the Chronomaster flag in the E, 1 & 2s race, albeit not for long.
After a week of very warm weather I expected the race to be held in nice warm and sunny conditions but I was wrong. Saturday night we had a bit of a drizzle in Bolton and then on my way to the race Sunday morning there were more showers… Not good I thought as I only packed for the sunny warm weather I was expecting…
Having arrived at the race HQ John, Daz and I signed on (Karl was somewhere…) and did a short warm-up ride. Good intentions but in all honesty it probably did not make much of a difference as we had to wait around for at least 20 minutes before the race briefing got underway and just to make sure it was not too warm the stiff breeze blew in a fine drizzle that turned into rather heavy rain as we made our way to the course behind the lead car.
By the time we turned onto the course the rain was really coming down and on the first descend the wet roads claimed their first victim with one of the riders hitting the deck. There is always that one person who wants to attack when the gun goes and this particular one did not get far, I’d guess about half a mile before his race was over.
John, Daz and I was safely in the pack though and for once it seemed most riders were sensible in the treacherous conditions. As we got half way down the hill the course took a turn left along a short undulating section before it dropped sharply towards a T-junction where we turned left onto the coastal road. A very slippery corner but the peloton got through it with a couple of slides but no falls (that I know of).
Now we had a bit of a an uphill slog before dropping down a windy, fast and flowing road (awesome but for some potholes on the inside line) before hitting a flat section with a headwind. As we headed into the outskirts of Ulverston we turned left and climbed up through an estate before turning left again and onto the drag that would take us over the finish line.
At the end of the first lap I was feeling great. The hills were ok (for a fat lad) and I felt like I actually had a chance to get some points. John and I kept near the front for the second lap. My main aim was to be there if any significant break went and secondary to that was to give myself some leeway on the hills if I started to feel bad on them.
The roads were still very wet and as we made our way round the circuit we started seeing more bodies from crashes. There were a couple of sporadic attacks off the front but nothing really stuck although there was a bit where I thought the front group of about 10 riders that John and I were in will get away as we seemed to have gotten a gap to the main group on the descend. It was not to be however and soon we were all back together humming along the coast road.
We completed the second lap and as we headed into the third lap a group of 4-5 riders went off the front. At first no one really thought they’d stay out for long but when it became clear this was a dangerous break an attempt was made to chase them down however with no one really willing to put work into it they disappeared up the road.
Back in our group John managed to get into a small group that went off the front. I sat in the peloton for a while allowing them to get a fairly good gap before I bridged across. Unfortunately the peloton was in no mood to let another break go and we only acted like a hare in front of hunting dogs and were chased down before we got to Ulverston for the third ascent through the estate.
By this time my legs weren’t feeling so good anymore and a started sliding back through the pack and had to work really hard to get back up to the front as we headed for the 4th lap. Down the descend we went again. I really enjoyed this bit of the course especially since the rain had stopped by now and the road was fairly dry so you could nail the corners!
By now my legs were really feeling the climbs and I thought it be better to get away on the flat(ish) sections so I can take the climb through the estate at my own pace. My first opportunity came when John sat on my wheel while I was right at the front and he allowed me to drift off the front. Unfortunately my inexperience showed when I looked back and saw John behind me with a rather large gap. Rather than putting my head down and attacking I eased off until I noticed John telling me to get moving.
I caught on to what he was doing but so did the peloton and I was soon swallowed up again.
Soon after Austin Aldred from Bella in Sella put in a solo attack and no one followed him so I thought it was my duty to do just that. I managed to catch him about a mile from the climb through the estate but by the time we hit the climb I knew I was in trouble. My legs were not happy with my efforts and I lost Austin’s wheel and soon I was spat out the back of the fragmented peloton again. While digging in up the drag to the finish line I felt my right hamstring twinge and pain every time I tried to push to catch what was now left of the peloton.
As I crossed the finish line for the 2nd last lap I saw Daz beside the road and thought I may as well keep him company. I was not going to get any points and will not be able to help John either.
With that I pulled over and became a spectator. Daz explained he hit a pothole on the second lap (on the fast flowing section of the coast road) which caused his handle bars to shift. Luckily he did not puncture or crash but he had to stop. I also found out that Karl crashed out of his race on the second lap on the first descend. Some skin missing but he should survive 🙂
John managed to get himself in a 2 man break for 9th and 10th place by the time he came round for the final lap and and managed to finish 10th.
Reflecting on the race I can say I enjoyed it while I was in it but I know I have a lot of work to do to get my endurance up to be competitive in lumpy races… it definitely is no crit!