By Jon Fowles
On Saturday I lined up at the Sam Walton Memorial road race, way up North …in Northumberland. This race hasn’t been run for a few years, and the on its last occurrence, the course looked spectacular with some challenging climbs and interesting terrain. Something that I would relish. Unfortunately it turned out that this years course was 8 laps of a pan flat circuit.
The race started out with a furious pace, and I found myself mispositioned towards the rear of the long line of strung out riders. With such a fast pace, I found it difficult to move up the pack to where the action was taking place. Over the first two laps the pack was gradually thinned by a combination of the pace but mainly the relentless pot holes causing flat tyres left right and centre. My tyres (or pothole avoidance?) were up to the challenge on this occasion. However, by now the break had vanished up the road, containing most of the strongest riders.
With the break gone, most riders were reluctant to do any chasing work, and the hopeful attacks started. I tried my hardest to get in a bridging break, but despite a few efforts I just lacked the firepower to get away on the flat course. All the time, the break out front was gaining time and our chances were diminishing.
I attempted to set a good pace on the front of the remnants of the peloton and entice some people into working together to bring the break back. None of this worked however, and whenever the pace slowed more riders tried to attack! The race turned into a procession for me, and I was glad when the 8 laps were up. Nonetheless it was a good lesson for me, firstly to be more astute with my positioning and secondly that hilly races are more fun !!!
Big thank you to the organisers for a great race and also Carolyn for the photos!