The Jim Rogers Memorial Road Race was my first real race of the season, I did ride the Spring Classic a couple of weeks earlier but as that’s a handicap it doesn’t really count. No head starts for anyone today, this would be a very tough day for everyone on the start line, no exceptions. 77 miles on one of Lancashire’s toughest circuits with some of the country’s strongest roadies – fortunately it was sunny and dry!
Dolphinholme is a circuit I’ve had some success on before, mainly in a 1 lap hilly time trial that used to be run mid season but also in road races, the main climb on the circuit is great for me, tough up and down roads all the way to the bottom and then a long and not too steep section with a false flat over the top.
Unfortunately what follows definitely doesn’t suit me – Cow’s Mouth, a short descent to a hairpin bend immediately followed by a short and steep climb. Now I don’t have many fast twitch fibres, probably don’t have any to be honest! Jumping out of corners or sprinting up short steep hills is something I just can’t do, so from almost stopping at the hairpin to engaging said fibres at full gas in the space of a few seconds really kills me! On the whole though, it’s a great circuit for me and a race I definitely look forward to!
Kris, Ste and me lined up on the grid all wearing our new Bioracer Tempest kit, a slightly thicker ‘roubaix’ style material that’s also water repellent. Our kit this year is the best I’ve ever used, top job Bioracer! Kris and Ste had both opted for knee warmers despite my protests, I could rant about the pointlessness of said garments for the rest of this report but I think I might get a bollocking from the boss, lets just say I really can’t see the point of leaving a few cm’s of flesh bare, if you need knee warmers – wear leg warmers!
Don’t get me started on toe covers!!
So off we went, the race started right at the base of the circuits main climb, unfortunately I found my self on the wrong side of the bunch and a fair way back, I could see the Pedal Heaven boys moving up and knew it was going to go mental from the first time up. As pace increased and the peloton started to line-out up the hill I managed to move up, it’s a strange thing with cycling (having said that I’ve never done any other sport!) but you know straight away if you have good legs, or not.
I could tell I was on a good day, or at least I was climbing well. I managed to make it to the head of the group, 4 lads had already gone clear – they must have been shifting because our bunch was firing people out the back all the time. Things get a little hazy here but from what I remember by the time we hit the Trough road our group was down to around a dozen riders, time checks put the 4 up the road at 56 secs and the bunch behind, well they’re going backwards and out of the race – on lap 1!
Our group at this point was too big to work together, for any non-racing bods reading this that might sound daft but when you find yourself away in a break with more than say, 8 riders, you always get riders refusing to do a turn or ‘sitting on’. Rather than work together in an effort to pull back the break our group constantly attacked each other, now as I’ve explained, I really don’t have much of a sprint so this constant attacking doesn’t put a smile on my face!
With the likes of Ian Wilkinson (Pedal Heaven), Matt Holmes (Madison), Lee Baldwin (Champion System) and former National Hill Climb champ Jack Pullar (Pedal Heaven) in the group putting in digs to break it up it really wasn’t a pleasant experience! Being a reasonable tester (time trialist) I figured I’d avoid any more pain and clear off for a while until they’d sorted out who should join me, in hindsight I’m not sure this was the right tactic, but hey ho, it’s early season and my target races are still to come.
So during a break in the warfare I jumped clear and opened a sizeable gap, I was hoping somebody would want to keep me company but they must have all been enjoying knocking lumps out of each other too much! I managed to get out of sight and even started to think I might make it up to the leading 4, with around 10 miles done on my tod that thought no longer got me excited, Neutral Service had dropped in behind me, always a good sign but as I crested Cow’s Mouth they flew by and the thought that I might make it across to the front 4 disappeared.
Not all bad news though, I glanced back and the group coming up to me only consisted of around 6 riders, I can imagine what had occurred to reduce the group by half and glad I hadn’t been there to see it.
At this point I was in a happy place, no more stinging attacks, the 4 lads up the road would suggest our group would all work well together to pull them back before kicking each other’s heads in again, or so I thought…
This is where I started to think my lap out front was maybe a bad move, as soon as the group caught me the attacks started/continued. Another lap and loads of constant attacks later and our group split and I was in the wrong half! To be fair though it did cross my mind all of the guys up the road at this point were full time Pro’s, but, at this point in the race I’d slipped into survival mode and my race was effectively over.
Overall I have to be happy with my form, I feel like I have good legs and getting better, maybe I could have conserved my ammo a bit better but that’s not the way I roll, esepcially if I’m on a good day…
Congratulations to James Gullen on another win, the lad is on fire at the moment!
Massive thanks to organiser Paddy Flanagan, members and friends of Scorton road club, all the mortorbike marshals and Jerod Hartley for neutral service, you guys are what’s keeping the sport alive and growing. Also thank you to Ellen Isherwood for the great photos!