By John Myburgh
Saturday morning and the weather looked great… if you were born with gills and had webbed feet. Yes, a typical summer monsoon awaited Warren and myself as we met up with our team mates (on loan from Team ASL [Dave Stammers & Ben Dobson] and Bill Nickson Cycles RT [James Claydon]) to take part in the 2017 edition of the Dave Hitchen 2-day race. Normally we would have a few people from the team trying to get into the race however most of the team were racing away this weekend.
We met at Day 1’s headquarters to sign on and the rain was bouncing off the tarmac. I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to racing in it but signed on, got my numbers and had chatted with a few friends. Warren
swam walked in and signed on, Stammers had already signed on, Ben was signing on so we were just waiting for James but it looked like we had a team ready to race.
We agreed we would go find a cafe somewhere for a coffee and headed for Pimbo Garden Centre where we faffed about a bit while we waited for our slot and got coffee. The rain eased and stopped just as we started making our way to stage 1, a team time trial. Only 4 miles so pretty straight forward, hit it from the gun and hang on. Only it was not that straight forward…
First an injury I’ve been struggling with rendered my left leg almost useless (I popped) and then Stammers (who needs a good warmup now that he is getting on in the years) blew. So it was left to Warren, James and Ben to carry the team to the end. We finished way down the order in a disappointing 9m42 which put us almost right at the bottom. But the rain held off so something to be cheerful about I guess.
I was in no mood for the race, feeling bad for letting the team down and with my left leg throbbing I wanted to pack in however Warren convinced me to just have a crack at stage 2 and then make a call. It was well worth it!
My tactic was simple, sit in the bunch and do no work, hang on and see how I get on, if I can survive. The whistle went and we were off. Most people that have raced at Pimbo knows it’s rather boring, four left hand corners and four straights connected by some dodgy riding from the peloton.
From the gun there were a few surges as riders tried to force a break and eventually a rather large break went up the road. The fun and entertainment was about to start. VCUK Velochampion won the TTT but they appeared to have missed the break. Every time they went to the front or tried to bridge across the Pro Vision riders shut them down as they had a man in the break. I know it can be very frustrating if you try and chase a break down and you have other teams shutting you down but…
I started noticing how the VCUK riders where helping each other in the peloton, a gentle push here and there, drill it on the front and then your team mate will gently help you along… If I’m honest, it really pissed me off however they weren’t making much progress so if it made them happy…
Anyway, eventually, after a lot of surges, strung out riding, hiding from the wind and so on we started eating into the lead of the break. A sign of things to come, we started picking people up who dropped back from the break and as we entered the last lap they were within touching distance. It came down to a bunch sprint and one of the guys from the break won the race but our James bagged himself 7th. Warren, Ben, Stammers and I rolled in with the bunch.
I was so busy concentrating during the race that I hardly noticed my left leg and although it was a bit sore I was actually chirpy and looking forward to the third and last stage on Sunday morning.
With the weather looking better and it being reasonably warm (warmer) it looked like a great day for racing. Having met the team at HQ we all got ready and rolled out for the pre race briefing. With the necessities out of the way we rolled onto the course and on our way to the start. Although it was supposed to be a neutralised ride to the start it was a pretty fast ride and I was wishing I did a proper warm-up!
When the flag dropped everyone went like their tales were on fire. For the first couple of laps the pace was relentless as riders again tried to force a break. A few brakes went but were pulled back almost immediately.
Eventually about 6 or 7 got up the road and the pace eased off a bit. The only real hard part of the race was a drag over the finish line, normal riding it would be easy but at race pace and with yesterday’s race in my legs it was hard.
I managed to get half way until the pain in my left leg became too much and I packed in. James, Ben and Warren though carried on and all three of them finished in the top 10, James – 3rd, Ben 7th and Warren 10th.
I’ll be working hard to get the injury I have sorted so I can have another go at this race. Thanks to St Helens CRC for putting on the race and also big thanks to Ellen Isherwood for taking photos! (Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3)