By Adam Baines
With a shortage of North West Road Races this weekend, a few of us decided to look further afield and try our luck with the midlanders. With a run of punctures and wheel trashing, I needed as much luck as I could get! After practising our best ‘oright me duck’ Ste Feeney and myself (Adam Baines) set off for the Hanbury circuit, just outside of Derby.
The race was 50 miles consisting of 4 ½ laps of a great circuit. There were long exposed straights, a decent enough climb and some undulating back roads to mix it up. The finish turned off the circuit on to a 1km hill with sections at 20%, a real test and one that would prove decisive.
With the race briefing of doom over, the race kicked off. Ste and I decided to sit mid bunch and let the inevitable attacks come and go. There were several attempts which were all brought back. This first lap was scary! There were idiots taking their lives in their own hands and crossing solid white lines on blind bends on the crests of hills just to move up about 3 places, it was ludicrous!
The Commissaires were well aware of the dangerous antics of some and neutralised the race. Just then a real numpty went on to prove the commissaires point. Out of nowhere, this plonker dived down the outside on a climb only to be met by on-coming car cresting the hill so he dived back into the bunch and took out about 4 riders, right I front of me.
Thankfully my bad luck seemed to have abated! I managed to break in time and ride round the carnage left behind. Unfortunately our friend from Bill Nickson wasn’t quite so lucky (Get well soon James). The commissaires then stopped the race and gave the peloton a right royal deserved bollocking! The race was re-started and the behaviour seemed to improve.
As this race was part of a League series (one that Chronomaster is not part of) it became apparent there were some definite team tactics going on. Local lads Clay Cross RT and our midland compatriots Leisure Lakes Bikes were contesting the whole series, so any attacks that didn’t contain one of their boys was soon brought back.
Lap 2 and a group of about 5 got away and it contained one rider from each afore mentioned teams. Their team mates got to the front and seemed to be blocking, this looked like the one, so I went for it. I got some good speed up from behind and went past the front, I got a gap and just went as hard as I thought I could hold for the next 5 minutes.
I took a look behind and a lad from Leisure Lakes had got on my wheel. Great some help! Or so I naively thought. I went a bit harder thinking he would do a turn and flicked him through. He didn’t come. I went again, flicked he still didn’t come. Then I realised what he was doing. Fair play.
With my attempt to bridge neutralised, I decided to sit in and wait for ‘Hanbury Hill’. The race continued at a high pace and the climb that we thought would split it didn’t really split it at all. It seemed that everyone was waiting for the climb. The early break was brought back with a lap and half to go and a counter from a lone RAF bomber went up the road.
The last lap was fast and coming down the last straight before the turn on to the hill I found myself too close to the back so I gave it a quick effort to move up. Made it, I found myself about 10th wheel going on to the climb.
This climb needs to be practised to get it right. I didn’t have this privilege so I adopted the tactic of go hard from the start and hang on!! I was making good progress as the road kicked up to over 20% and I reckon I’d held my 10th position, maybe even moved up a few places. But at this point my legs were screaming and we were only about half way up.
The road then levelled off to a “gentle” 10%, where we caught the lone breakaway and I was getting excited about a decent placing! Then the road kicked up again to the last 150m of 20%. It was here I started to go backwards. Ste appeared next to me and powered past me, followed by another few wheels as well. I tried to hang on to Ste’s wheel and It was all I could do to wrestle the bike to the finish.
I placed 17th and Ste managed to get in the points at 13th. With a shaky start, it was a great race. Fast and furious 😊 and one I actually managed to finish 😉
Well done to the young lad Fergus Robinson who won and a big thank you to all the race organisers and marshals.
A special mention to our sponsors, who without doubt, kit us out to be the most professional looking team in the amateur ranks!