Yorkshire Open 50+ Criterium – Race Report

By Graham Balshaw

Not my best or favourite type of racing on a pan flat crit circuit but today at the York Cycle Track we get two races for the price of one. In race 1 we have a combined race Cat “C” age 50+ with my age group Cat “D” age 55+. It’s a race of 1 hour 20 mins + 5 laps with part of the circuit going into what felt like a gale force wind. Three of the younger guys made an early attack and to their credit held it to the end.

I managed to get in the second attack with Steve Ellis (last weeks Clifton RR winner), a couple of other Cat “C” riders and Steve Jolley who should have been in the Cat “E” race but arrived late so joined our race instead. Steve
Jolley is no ordinary 60 year old though, he is a multiple winner of National Championships and Percy Stallard events.

Once we had made the break both Steve’s did the lions share of the work putting in some very strong terns, so much so that before the end of the race we managed to lap the peleton and almost caught the first break.

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The race finished for my age group:
1st Steve (Superman) Jolley Onimpex Bioracer RT
2nd Graham Balshaw Team Chronomaster
3rd Steve Johnson Chevin Trek Racing

Race 2 was a handicapped race for which about 30 of us were daft enough to take on. According to my Garmin it advised I needed about 3 days recovery from race 1 which seemed excessive but the 20 minutes I actually got
seemed to flyby.

It was a strange handicapping system with anyone of age 60+ getting half a lap start and everyone else age 50+ starting at the same time. The race was only 30 minutes but from the start there seemed to be a slight communication problem between my brain and legs, they weren’t talking to each other.

Within 2 or 3 laps we caught the older guys, clearly they should have been given a much greater start to make it a fair handicapping system. Then Steve Ellis attacked taking just Mark Hammersly and me with him, luckily my legs
were starting to remember why I had brought them. Luckily I have become a pretty good wheel sucker having spent many long hours training with my younger team mates and I was to put it to good effect here. Steve and Mark took equal hard turns keeping us well clear of the bunch. I think they forgot I was there after a while, it was all I could do to just hang on. The finish was quite funny as Alister the organisor shown in the above photo was in this race and had left his wife in charge of the bell and finishing details. As the three of us started to prepare for what we thought was the last lap we noticed that the other rider who were behind us were on a warm down lap having already finished.
Once Steve and Mark realised the mistake they decided to have a sprint finish to decide the winner, would you believe it this was then a photo finish with no camera, I don’t think they had any complaints about sharing the win and so it finished.

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Joint 1st Steve Ellis Out of The Saddle CC
Joint 1st Mark Hammersley Team Wheel Guru
3rd Graham Balshaw Team Chronomaster

Other than the slight problem at the end of the final race it had been a great day out in the sunshine, no accidents and a very well organised event by
Alister Cameron and his team.

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