It was a win for Adam and me just to get in the bunch at the East Lancs road race at Bashall on Sunday, both of us had our entries rejected and didn’t make it onto the reserve list however after contacting the organiser and offering to marshal if we didn’t get in, Adam was added as 11th and me as 9th reserve. Fortunately for us 13 didn’t show!
Bashall long circuit isn’t used enough in my opinion, I’m not sure why – there’s various reason’s I’ve heard in the changing rooms – potholes being the most common. For me that’s no excuse not to use it, most circuits are riddled with wheel destroying tarmac (Frank Morgan Memorial anybody?) and besides, if you can’t handle a downhill tight off-camber bend with potholes whilst drilling it you’re not really a complete bike rider – more on that later!
So the bunch lined up outside Edisford Bridge school for the neutral start, around a mile to the circuit where the lead car pulls in the flag and the race is on, right at the bottom of the main climb on the 11 mile circuit. Straight away the attacks started, having glanced through the start list back in the HQ the field had some lads who in recent weeks have shown cracking form.
With constant attacks over the top, through Cow Ark and onto the long straights before hitting Chaigley I figured I’d stay in the top 10 and if any break formed I felt confident I’d be in it. By the start lap 2 of 5 the bunch had lost around a third with people being dropped, the circuit is great for skinny lads – two long climbs and two short steep climbs!
I hadn’t seen much of Adam up to this point and then there he was, but riding in the opposite direction!! With a different back wheel on I figured he’d punctured, it turns out the neutral service vehicle following the race just drove right past despite him having his hand up!?
On to the climb through Bashall village and I decided to put some pressure on, after a fair hard stretch with Jimmy Smith (Team Aspire) and Matt Cartlidge (Kuota) putting in some hefty digs I jumped clear and opened up a small gap, a minute or so later Stu Percival (GMP) and Dave Powell (Horwich CC) joined me, happy days! We slotted in to doing turns and the gap opened up, eventually we were out of site of the bunch and with around 30 mile to go I figured we had a fair chance at staying clear.
At this point I need to re-wind to the 2008 Division Champs. One of the few times races have been held on the long Bashall circuit, the Divs were 80 odd miles, started in Longridge and completed around 6 laps. I was on fire that day, at 65 miles I was in a break of 8, with eventual winner and National Champ Rob Hayles, feeling good and looking forward to the hill-top finish.
With one lap(!!!) to go over the top of the climb past the Red Pump and down the descent to Cow Ark, on a particularly nasty downhill off-camber tight left hand bend, whilst braking my back wheel locked up, I straightened up and went straight into a dry-stone wall, straight over the top and landed a few feet down a rocky path on my face. That was a bad day. I put it down to the useless Zero Gravity calipers I had on at the time, in hospital I had to have maxilo-facial plastic surgery to restore my good looks but the wasted opportunity to get a great result isn’t forgotten Inline images 2
Back to 2016, I’m away in a good break, over the top, descending to Cow Ark, feeling good, it’s dry and I’ve got SRAM Red calipers on, what could go wrong??
Yes, I did it again. Don’t ask what happened, I don’t know, all I know is I hit the exact same bend, I think my front wheel slipped, I straightened up and hit the same wall. Stuart and Dave carried on. Really lucky this time, no plastic surgery needed, I got up just as the bunch passed, chain was off, mounted it and back on, chain off again, did it right this time, no panic, back on and I’ll get in the cars and be back on in half a lap, I thought.
A lap and half later I’ve passed loads of lads shelled out that back and I made it back to the bunch, around 30 left at this point with Stuart and Dave still away!
My race now swung between damage limitation due to cramp and going hard up the climbs when I wasn’t. Over Chaigley for the last time, with Stuart and Dave about to be caught I drilled it from the bottom in an effort to shell the fast lads in the now inevitable bunch gallop, at least that worked.
We descended to the bridge very very quick, up the other side and Jake Cowen (NAB Racing) was first to jump, I’m no sprinter, so pleased I actually overtook someone before hitting the line in 7th. If I hadn’t decked it though…..
Here is a link to my Strava file for the race: https://www.strava.com/activities/584113565
Many thanks to David Trippier and East Lancs Road Club for the fantastic cakes, superbly organised and well marshalled event and Ellen Isherwood for the pictures, I’ll try and crash near you next time Ellen!