by Neil Wood
Just having returned from a trip to the Domomites last week with charity fundraisers for Bolton Lads and Girls Club, I was a bit out of sorts this week. We covered 650 miles and climbed 104,000 feet in 8 days so had plenty of mileage in the legs which was telling. On Tuesday I got a sports massage and some physio on a niggling knee pain, but generally speaking I was feeling pretty much ok for today’s race
It was only myself and team mate John Bamford out today, he was first reserve so got a ride and I had already been accepted. No real plan of action other than to mark any attacks and if legs were willing initiate any breaks. Not long into the race I realised that I was probably still feeling some fatigue from the Dolomites. At the back end of the trip, and at the back end of a tough day of 15,000 feet of climbing we attempted Monte Zoncolan where I got the serious bonk, and I realised that was really the last time I saw my legs and they were still stuck on the side of that toughest of tough climbs.
None the less, I persevered as the course was one that suited me, it was the Norland circuit near Halifax, which was more of an undulating course with a maximum incline of 6 percent and not a mountain in sight. The race was just shy of 50 miles with 12 laps and the uphill drag to the finish line was about a mile long with a headwind and kicked up at the end to 6 percent. Twelve of these climbs was going to be something of a challenge.
The weather was great, lovely and sunny and a nice day for racing. There was a fell run or something going on nearby with lots of runners on the road and a nearby gymkhana meaning a fair bit of traffic. However when the fell run was over, all of the competitors assembled on the uphill drag and there were hundreds of people giving a lot of vocal support and applause which made me feel almost pro like!
There were a number of attacks that got away and ultimately pulled back in. The race was organised by 3RT Cycling and they had a good strength team who set out to control the race from the off and did a good job of doing so with plenty of attacks and constantly had couple of men in the breaks, with good counter attacking when opponents brought them back. I tried to get in a break with two of them at one point but to no avail.
John was biding his time, we had a few conversations mid race but like me his legs were feeling the pace a bit. John is famous in our team for putting in huge attacks and getting into a solo break about two thirds into the race and his team mates holding things back to help him get away. This attack never came for the same reasons – that Zoncalon feeling was persistent in the legs.
One the bell lap I made sure I stayed near the front as it was my only hope of getting a decent placing. Probably due to tiredness, I left my sprint too late and the uphill was taking it out of me so only managed to cross the line in around 14th place, just outside the points, and John got boxed in with nowhere to go was just behind me. No top ten’s for us today, but a great day out, a good leg tester and great race on a great course
Many thanks to the organisers 3RT Cycling for putting on a great race and in the process raised £300 for the Dave Rayner fund