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By John Bamford.
John Myburgh, Paul Beech and myself lined up for the CSP Road Race around the long Bashall circuit on the outskirts of Clitheroe. A rolling circuit, with some quick descents, sharp bends and tight lanes would make for an interesting race. Due to the popularity of the event two races were organised and all our team took to the line in Race 2.
On checking the forecast the night before it didn’t look great but on arriving at the HQ the weather looked better than expected. But then with half an hour before the race was due to start the heavens opened and the wind began to pick up.
After a short neutralised section to lead us on to the circuit, the flag dropped and the race was on. I’d positioned myself towards the front to watch any moves and to keep out of trouble as the rain was bouncing down and standing water was already beginning to form on the circuit.
There were several early attacks, all of which were brought back and after the first lap of four, the bunch rolled across the start/finish all together. The speed went up on the second ascent of the main climb on the circuit and as we crested it, a small group of riders was managing to pull away. I decided this looked like a good move and jumped across to it. A few more riders came across to form a bunch of a dozen or so riders at the head of the race. This ended up being the break that contested the win.
Meanwhile back in the bunch, John Myburgh wasn’t on a good day, even though he had dressed for the weather it still took its toll on him. He lost contact with the bunch after the first lap and decided to call it a day. Paul was also feeling the effects of the cold and after an initial foray off the front on the opening lap, he was feeling the cold in his hands and finding it increasingly difficult to brake. Only packing mitts for the race wasn’t one of Paul’s best ideas! Paul lost contact with the bunch on a tight left hander but managed to chase back on.
However, after finding himself at the back of the bunch on the climb he saw the move go up ahead and unfortunately that was his race over. The weather got the better of him too and he decided to head for the comfort of the HQ and a nice hot cup of coffee.
After a scrappy second lap where we all tried to work together whilst fighting the wind and the treacherous wet conditions it was apparent that the cold and wet was taking its toll on me. Unable to reach for a gel or grab the bottle out of its cage I was racing on fast dwindling reserves.
There were several strong riders in the break, and one by one riders were dropped until about 7 or 8 of us were left, but on the penultimate lap on the rise through Chaigley, the dreaded elastic snapped as I struggled to keep the legs turning in the cold wet conditions.
In no man’s land I started the final lap with a decent time gap on a chasing group of 4 or 5 riders, but on cresting the main climb for the last time I was caught by the 2nd group on the road. I jumped on the back of this and tried to recover some energy from somewhere.
On the final descent a couple of the riders, including Warren Gell, made a bid for the line and opened up a small gap on me and the two other riders. We headed over the bridge and pressed on the pedals up the small rise, slowly closing the gap. The sensations in the legs weren’t good but I decided to try one last effort and jumped ahead of the remaining guys. The head thought it was a good idea, the legs didn’t and I crossed the line at the back of the group taking 13th spot.
I rode swiftly back to the HQ to try and get some warmth into my body. The HQ was full of shivering riders who must have been thinking the same as me….. that It was one grim day of racing!!! Here’s hoping to better weather for next week!
The race was won by Andy Bennett of Omnipex Bio Racer RT from Chris Southworth (Leigh Premier RC) with 3rd spot taken by Chris Clark (Rapha Cycling Club). Well done on a great ride in less than ideal conditions. Race 1 was won by Mark Dziobon with a great solo effort from lap 1.
Finally, a big thank you to the organisers, marshals, volunteers, NEG support and everyone else involved in making the race a safe one in testing conditions. And thanks to Ellen Isherwood for the race pictures.