By Adam Baines
I loved all the North Wales races I did last year, but I missed two for one reason or another. this weekend allowed me to do both of them back to back.
I was joined by Craig (our climbing King), Mr consistent Ste and my new sleeping partner 😉 Kris, who was testing his legs after a spell of illness. As you can see, we had a strong team with a very good chance of getting a result.
Now I’ve had a run of good luck weather wise in all my races so far this year and I’ve even got some decent tan lines to prove it! Not bad for the UK, but I knew at some point that luck would run out. Today was that day. Having stayed in an apartment down the road from the race HQ in order to gain some extra minutes beauty sleep, I woke up to the trees bent double and a sound similar to someone pissing on the window. No it wasn’t Craig returning from one of his famous benders, it was the rain. This was tropical monsoon standard. So bad I had to check if the race was going ahead. It was, but it had been shortened from 3 laps down to 2. So that was 60 mile down to 40. A shame because the course was set to be a cracker.
One attraction to the North Wales races is the long circuits and this was a 20 mile loop taking in some stunning scenery and some cracking climbs. Visibility was at a minimum so it was left down to the other senses (mainly pain) to take in what we were taking on.
With the shortened course it was always going to be fast, so I made sure I had a good warm up to be ready for the early attacks. As predicted the race kicked off as soon as the flag was dropped. The race started immediately on to the first climb. The pace was so fierce that Craigs rear mech decided to spit his chain off and save him from the imminent leg ripping. If his rear mech had consulted Craig first, it would have perhaps found out that Craig was relishing this challenge and was perhaps our best chance of a result.
Wheels were being dropped all over the place and I spotted the danger and moved up, sitting about 10 wheels from the front. This proved to be a great decision. Kris playing it safe near the back was our second victim. Riders losing the wheels left Kris in a rear echelon groupetto. Not all bad though as Kris has now formed a pseudo welsh male choir with the friends he made singing their way through the remaining misery.
Kris and his male voice choir
That left Ste and me, Ste taking his usual spot at the rear of any remaining riders and me sticking around 10th wheel trying to hide from the gales blowing us all around (did I mention the weather was bad?) After the second climb, the course took us on to exposed rolling roads with some fast, twitchy descents. For me this was the most fun part of the course.
Even after the monster efforts on the climbs, the front men were drilling it over the tops and down the other sides in a hope to shell more and more riders. It was constant, there was no let-up but I was feeling good and loving how hard it was.
Second and final lap, George Evans from Team Bottrill made a heroic effort and disappeared up the road and we were down to about 15 men in the front group. Not being challenged enough by the mountainous terrain and dreadful weather, Ste had decided to wear the very latest in cycling training aids; the cycle-chute. This inevitably took its toll and Ste missed the final split.
Ste in his cycle-chute
Surprisingly this left me! My form has been coming and today the hard work was paying off. It was still hard and I’ve no idea how I managed to hold on to some of the attacks but I was still there and having fun. With 15 left the group was still too large for any cohesion and various individuals were trying to get away.
On the rolling part of the course in to a fierce headwind, two lads slipped away and the group seemed to sit up. The two lads up the road were still in sight and I was feeling good. With one last steep kick before the last long descent, albeit in to the same headwind, I went for it. I just rode as hard as I could and I seemed to be making good ground on the lads in front. Blinded by a vision of podiums I failed to see that 2 Rhino Velo lads had jumped on my wheel. I flicked for them to come through which they did, along with another 8 riders. I slipped on to the back of them hoping to regain some strength before the final 15% kick before the climb to the finish.
At the bottom of the descent there was a sharp left on to the afore mentioned finisher. And finish me it did. With only half a mile to go I lost the wheel in front of me. I fought as hard as I could to get back on, but with the conditions, they dangled about 10 metres in front of me all the way to the finish line. I rolled over in 13th position. Ste came in the next group at 33rd and Kris was ‘singing’ up the rear in 41st. Credit to George Evans from Team Bottrill who held on for the win.
Thanks as always to our generous sponsors, Chronomaster watches, Specialized and Leisure Lakes Bikes.
A massive thank you must go to all the marshals and NEG riders who turned out in those conditions just so us weirdos could punish ourselves. And of course, another massive thank you to Simon Parkinson and everyone at V C Melyd and Ynys Mon Race Team who put on fantastic events time and time again. I’m sure I speak for everyone at Team Chronomaster when I say I can’t speak highly enough of this race series, Thank you.
Cycle-chutes now available at Leisure Lakes: