By Neil Wood
The road races at Pimbo are always hugely over subscribed. There are 80 riders accepted with around 150 applicants, so it’s always pleasing to be accepted, no more pleasing than today as it was a great day’s racing.
I woke up at the ungodly hour of 06:00 and John Myburgh picked me up at 07:30. I was not really in the mood for it today as I am not great in the mornings and I had already raced twice earlier in the week. On Tuesday I did a criterium race at Salt Ayre, finishing just outside the top 10, and on Thursday, I did a 4 man 25 mile team time trial on the slightly undulating J2/9 course. Having lost a man after a mile or so, I had to work my socks off, eventually posting a respectable time of 56:09 with thanks to my team mates who were able to push the pace harder than myself.
We met Adam Baines, our other team mate in the race at the HQ. Only three of us from the team had managed to get in the race. A few warm up laps and we were all set. As I was not in the mood for it, I was a lot more relaxed than I usually am. I have always been terrible at suffering from pre match/race nerves which stem from my rugby playing days where there was a high expectation to perform well whilst taking a pummelling at the same time. As I had no real expectations of myself today because of my fatigue from the week’s racing, my nerves were not showing.
After the first lap Adam had managed to get himself in an early three man break and gained some distance on the bunch. Nobody was chasing them, and it looked like they could get a clean break that may stick. Myself and John then duly took charge of the peloton by getting to the front and starting to make a nuisance of ourselves by slowing the race down to allow Adam and his two compatriots to distance themselves further and giving Adam a chance of a top 3 result. Being disruptive to slow things down is actually a lot harder than you would expect. It’s a case of getting to the front, slowing the proceedings down, riders come past you and by the time 10 or so have gone past, it’s time to ride back up to the front to slow it down again. So there is a lot of work involved. This carried on for about 13 laps, whilst Adam and company had gained a good 500 or 600 metres and were virtually out of sight.
Adam and company with a clear distance on the peloton
John got told off at one point by another rider who threw his hands in the air shouting out why he was going to the front then not doing any more work. John just laughed at him, shrugged his shoulders and simply shouted back in his inimitable style, “I will do nothing”! This person had no idea that we had a man in the break.
Making a nuisance of ourselves to maximise Adam’s chances in the break
Not long after this friendly exchange, somebody cottoned on when John and myself were again at the front got two abreast and causing disruption, I heard a voice from behind shouting out “them two lads have got a man in the break”!!! Game over for me and John and the bunch worked hard eventually pulling back Adam’s breakaway group with about 7 laps to go.
John getting to the front again to allow Adam to get away
Both of us doing our best
I now make a public written apology to Adam. With about 3 laps to go, a small group of about 6 attacked to try to get away, and I chased them. Adam turned around to see if there was any distance, and it was only then I saw Adam was in the attack. If I had my wits about me, I would have seen him as he attacked, then tried to slow proceedings down again to allow him and the others to get away. Some of the bunch followed me and the attack was neutralised. In mitigation of my error, there was only 3 laps to go, and no self respecting bunch would ever allow 6 men to get away with just 3 laps remaining.
With my criterium racing on Tuesday nights. I seem to lose out on the sprints a lot. Sometimes getting inside or just outside the top 10. I decided a couple of weeks ago to do some sprint training. I turned to my favourite YouTube channel GCN, run by some well known ex professional cyclists, where I picked up some sprint training exercises. They have been put to good effect today. I don’t think the sprint training has actually improved my physical fitness in just 2 weeks, but the two hour repetition sessions that I have done have allowed me to focus on my technique and think about every pedal stroke in the sprint, from a steady build up to the final unleashing of every ounce of energy.
Down to a bunch gallop
Into the final straight on the last lap, I had to keep my nerve. I am guilty of “white line fever” in the criterium races by starting my sprints too soon and blowing up before the finish line. Even though my legs were tired, I slowly picked up my pace, coming off somebody’s wheel as I did not want to depend on anybody else in case they blew up. I saw an attack taking place to the left of me, so I had to go. I picked up to full throttle with about 50 metres to go, passing riders but not being passed myself and managed to cross the line in 4th place. I was pretty pleased with my result, but slightly disappointed because this time I left my sprint too late. I had not lost any pace and was still feeling strong as I crossed the line, and I was catching up to the men in front of me. I will remember this for next time, but still I am very happy with 4th place and being a Regional B race, that’s 8 points.
Crossing the line to take 4th place
The race was won by Gary Scott (Onimpex Bioracer), Joseph Cadwallader (Bury Clarion) in second place and Wayne Greenhalgh (Champion System) was third
Many thanks to the race organiser Brian Rigby
Also many thanks for the brilliant photos from Ellen Isherwood
And finally, Ellen snapped this crowd pleaser below, our new team prospect showing his dad Adam how to race.