By Kris Zentek.
Whilst most of the team have packed up for the season, a few of us are still racing, chasing those elusive points to meet our individual goals. This weekend, is was myself and Stephen Feeney who made the long trip to Pontefract in West Yorkshire for the Upton CC Road Race.
September is a great month to race in. It is cooler but still with morning sun, and the weather is a lot more reliable, and often dry. Today was no exception as we looked forward to blue skies and dry roads. The morning mist was burning off as we arrived at the Super Flex Gym in Upton.
This course is used several times through the season, and twice by Upton CC with a summer E/1/2 race. This was my first time, but I already had a heads-up about it being a fast course with no major challenges. 3 of the 5 turns were roundabouts, and the other two junctions were wide and sweeping – literally no let up in pace.
As we rolled out, there was a great feeling in the bunch – maybe because everyone could see the end of the season nearing – maybe because it was getting warmer with every passing minute. Once on to the course, the pace lifted and we were racing. A few attacks and counters went for the first 2 out of 8 laps, but the bunch did not want to let anything go. On lap 3, a pair of riders escaped but never managed more than 30 seconds. I tried a number of times to escape and join them, as did others, but a lot of negative racing resulted in everything being chased down.
I sank into the bunch, to wait a bit later in the race, and the two escapees were caught a lap or two later. I hadn’t seen much from Steve as I was up front, but as we regrouped, Steve came powering past. Another rider was on his wheel, and in no time they had a gap – maybe 10-15 seconds. There were attempts by others to bridge, but each time there were a string of hopefuls chasing them down.
So I got back on the front and tried to control the pace a bit more, but the constant attacks and negative racing made it very difficult and I kept sinking backwards. Meanwhile Steve and his compatriot were never more than 30 seconds up the road. As we neared the finish line for lap 7, A couple of riders attacked and I instinctively went with them. I had another rider on my wheel as I looked around, and I saw that the bunch had sat up on the climb.
I had to make a quick decision. My team mate was up the road, we had just snapped the bungee, and I was still feeling good. The chance to get both of us in the winning break, or the risk of pulling the bunch over to Steve. I knew he must have been tiring, and wondered if just two riders could make the remaining two laps. Probably not. So I went for it and ordered the four of us into formation to bridge the gap.
1/4 lap later, we made the bridge, and we were now 6. Steve looked fresh still, but his comrade looked a little more tired. The bunch were still in view, maybe 20 seconds behind. It was now or never, with 1.5 laps to the finish.
It took a while to get everyone working, but eventually 4 of us including Steve settled into a rhythm and we dug deep to stay away. We got to the bell with a 22 second gap, and 1/2 lap later we were up to 35 seconds. the bunch had given up the chase and were probably jostling for sprint positions. But that didn’t allow us any time to let up, as the bunch could catch us in no time if the attacks started too soon.
As we neared the roundabout to the finish straight, I typically found myself on the front. I was in two minds whether to go long, or hope that the uphill sprint to the finish would suit me. I decided to wait for the hill, which was probably the wrong choice as two riders jumped. I didn’t have the strength to respond, and the line was taken by two or three bike lengths. I rolled in 3rd, with Steve taking 4th and the remaining two rolling in a couple seconds later.
So the elusive road race win evaded us yet again, but we both came away really happy with the result. Much needed points for Steve to secure his 2nd Cat license for 2016 after a terrible start (he broke his hip, remember). And I will now be a little closer to my 1st Cat goal. All in all, a great days racing on a cracking course that I will definitely be doing again.
- Charlie Renshaw (Bike Box Alan/Envelopemaster)
- Corey Ashley (Beeston RC)
- Kristian Zentek (Team Chronomaster)
- Stephen Feeney (Team Chronomaster)
- Tim Tharratt (Squadra RT)
- Alexander Simmonds (Bowlfish Bontrager Racing)
- Giles Pidcock (Chevin Cycles.com Trek)
- James Claydon (The NAB Racing)
- Simon West (G4 Acre RT)
- Steve Colloby (Paul Milnes Bradford Olympic RC)
- Richard Moore (Squadra RT)
- Andrew Jones (Manx Viking Wheelers CC)
- Richard Middleton (Batley Cycling Club)
- Simon Mayfield (Sowerby Brothers CRT)
- John Blackhouse (Audlem Cycling Club)
So I’d like to thanks Upton CC for putting on a great event that looked really well organised, also thanks to the NEG outriders and many marshalls who kept us safe without any incidents on the road. Lastly, I’d like to thank the supporters at HQ for the fantastic spread the put on for the weary riders at the end.
Next weekend is the last racing of the calendar. Billy, Steve and I are heading East to attend the Fin Del Verano stage race for that last effort to reach our 2015 goals…