High on Cakes– Clieves Hill Road Race
4 members of Team Chronomaster headed out to the High on Bikes regional road race at the Clieves hill circuit near Ormskirk. Craig, Si and Myself travelled down together and found an extremely keen Kris warming up a few miles down the road from HQ at just gone 8am, this early warm up was needed, as we seemed to have to close down a break on the neutralised lap after some confusion as to whether the race had started or not!
The circuit consisted of a fairly long drag up, followed by a speedy descent and some sweeping corners through the Lancashire lanes, before tacking a sharp left onto the start finish straight. The headwind through the lanes made it feel as though you were peddling through treacle, and made getting away from the bunch early on extremely difficult.
Unfortunately on only the second lap Si punctured, managing to cadge a spare off someone at the roadside he did manage to finish, but was a lap down on the eventual winners, no laps out at “real” races!
After Kris had been worn down trying to go with anything that looked like getting away in the first few laps, a group of 5 lads managed to forge a gap. After a few others had tried, Craig made an attempt to bridge, but unfortunately ended up in no mans land. I made an attempt to go acrossand give him some assistance with 2 kuota lads, but in the end it all came back together, us catching Craig and the group catching us. The peloton had been reduced fairly significantly by the cross winds and now consisted of around 15 riders. As we massed at the front to try to orchestrate a chase, cramp hit Craig and he had to pull. We were now down to 2 riders, Me and Kris and it seemed that other than us 2 and Hamish Graham (The Green Jersey) no one else was going to do anything to close the break.
I therefore took the decision that working to drag 15 riders across was a waste of energy, so dug hard on the climb, taking Phil Gray (Kuota- Spinergy- CSG) with me, we quickly distanced the group and got into a good rhythm to chase the group of 5 in front, a big ask, but doable. With 4 laps to go they had a gap of 40 seconds, at 3 it was 30 (Kris unfortunately being the one giving me the gaps after puncturing with 3 laps remaining), doing the callykillation (TM Sean Kelly) we would hopefully catch them on the final lap. So we continued to give it full gas, sharing the work well. We flew past a loose dog on one lap, Phil very nearly making like his namesake Phil Gil and having a canine collision.
With 2 laps to go they pulled the car out from the gap and we could smell blood, seeing glimpses of the lead group at the top of the hill and round corners, however it seemed this gave the 5 riders in front extra incentive, and by the end of the lap the gap was back up to 30 seconds. It had just been too much of an ask to bridge. As me and Phil took the left onto the finishing climb of Clieves Hill he kicked, and I had nothing. For the first time I worried about the group behind, as I pedalled squares up the hill. Thankfully they were way back and I took a respectable 7th.
Back at the HQ and High on Bikes had put on a good spread, butties and cakes galore and even cold cans of coke (more of this please, race organisers). After scoffing I reviewed the race manual, hoping 7th might be worth a few quid. Prizes down to 6th, so close!
An extremely well organised race and a lot of fun, with a bit of better luck things could have been very different!
More excellent shots from Ellen Isherwood and Martin Holden 🙂