LVRC Percy Stallard Series Road Race – 13th March 2016

By Graham Balshaw

The Percy Stallard is a series of 7 races held around the country for veterans age 40 and above. Neil Wood and myself represented Team Chronomaster in our age groups 50+ and 55+ respectively although both age groups were riding in the same race.

The course was 5 hilly laps, 45 miles in total in the lovely village of Husbands Bosworth near Lutterworth. A full field of 55 riders had entered our race.

We drove down the previous day to enable us to ride the course identifying any large pot holes and get our race strategy right.

LVRC La Fleche Waltonne graham 1The race got underway with a fairly steady first lap, which I was glad of because we hadn’t warmed up properly before the race. Part way through the second lap two guys attacked and I thought to myself ‘idiots, they will never make it stick with a bunch of 55 riders in the field‘. Much have I to learn as we never saw them again…

Nothing much happened then until halfway into the fourth when another 2 riders attacked, again I thought ‘idiots they will never make it stick, why are they wasting their energy‘. When they got about 200M on the bunch Steve Wilkinson, last year’s series winner, went after them by himself.

At this stage I was beginning to realise I had made a mistake getting myself stuck in the middle of the bunch, I should have been alert to Steve’s attack and gone with him to keep alive any chances of a top 3. I can only assume he managed to catch the other 2 riders as neither him not them were to be seen again.

LVRC La Fleche Waltonne 1The bunch cruised around for another lap with Neil and myself having the odd turn at the front. Our strategy for the last 2 miles was to get very near the front as it’s a narrow track little more than 2 meters wide with only enough room for two abreast towards the finish line.

And then I made a mistake! With roughly 4 miles to go I was at the front, a moments lapse of concentration and the next thing I knew I was boxed in with 20 riders going past. In the mean time Neil fared better (and more alert) and managed to get himself to the sharp end of the bunch.

As we started the last two miles on the narrow track the realisation that I probably blew any chance of getting a decent result set in. The pace was really slow however I found it impossible to overtake.

With about 400M to go, a very steep hill towards the finish, I managed to get past some of the riders and salvaged a 6th position in my age group. Neil who had been doing all the work at the front for the last 2 miles finished just behind me and just outside the top 10.

Although this was not a target race for me I was a bit disappointed with the result and left to ponder what could have been if it had not been for the lapse in concentration.

Many thanks to race organiser Phil Rayner and his staff for putting on a superbly well run and very enjoyable event.

LVRC La Fleche Waltonne 2b

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