With a full field of 90 riders lined up at the start of this race, my expectations as a 56 year old starting my first full year of racing were not high, just don’t come last I thought. My hopes were with my son Gareth Balshaw and Billy Stewart all representing Team Chronomaster. My strategy was to hide at the back, conserve energy and hope for the best.
As the 18 lap race got under way I was quite surprised at how easy the race was, it was a good pace with an average speed of 27.2 mph but at the back of this large tightly packed bunch it was like being sucked along by a Tesco waggon. Lap after lap we cruised around with only seconds separating first and last place. Gareth kept himself safe at or near the front of the race, I’m not sure if this was tactical or he just wanted to get on more photos. Billy also had a few goes at the front but no one could get away. I stuck to my strategy at the back and was often joined for a chat by Billy and Daz a friend from another team.
It continued at that steady pace right up to the last lap when finally the pace suddenly picked up to 30 mph. Half way through this last lap as some riders started to tire and others jostled for position it got quite dangerous and a number of riders crashed to the ground, including our team mate Billy. Thank fully he was not seriously injured.
As we took the last bend I was glad to have saved so much energy during the race but wondered what might have been if I had positioned myself closer to the front before the last lap. Gareth was somewhere near the front and I was quickly moving up the field which is the opposite to what normally happens to me when I get in a sprint finish with the younger guys.
It’s a mad bunch sprint with only a few seconds separating 75 finishers, what an adrenalin rush.
I came 14th for no points but I was well pleased with that result.
I would like to say a big thank you to Brian Rigby and his team for a superbly well organised event as well as Ellen Isherwood for the great photos, Gareth especially loves them 😉