By Kris Zentek.
Late season panic is now setting in. It’s September and points are needed! Luckily Harry Middleton CC recognised this and put on a late season points grabber. The venue, Pimbo. Great for fat people like me. If you don’t know Pimbo, then you’re probably not into cycling, but for the uninitiated it’s a 2-ish mile pan flat loop on Pimbo trading estate. It’s only redeeming features being that it’s 4 miles wide and once a lap you get to smell Monster Munch.
I thought I was on my own today, with most of the team sunning it (lol) in the Alps, and the rest having packed for the year. As I went for a quick spin (to find a bush) I was surprised to see Warren Gell pinning on a number. He let on that Ste Feeney was here too. Warren was pinning on number 58. I was number 45, so there must quite a few EOLs today. I rolled up to Ste to say hello, who was stranded in a car with a flat battery. Apparently he’d left his Strip Hot Wax Unsightly Hair Remover plugged in for too long.
Weather. Dry, but threatening to rain, and boy did it rain. Windy too – blustery with a cross headwind on the long draggy finish straight. This was all perfect for me…
We roll off. 20 laps today, a touch over 40 miles. No primes either. Declan Hudson went on his customary early solo attack, but the rest of the bunch were very reserved. We rolled through the first two laps like it was a club run. A couple of solo bids here and there. Warren jumped on the front to pull back the soloists, while Ste nestled into the main bunch. I was up front helping with the effort. I wanted to stay at the front because I wanted to get in a break – no way was I sitting in a bunch on a day like this.
5 laps in and the fun started. The first of the breakaway attempts started, but Warren made sure nothing stuck and I stayed right with him. Ste came to the front and had a dig with a few others, and as they were reeled in on the finish straight, I saw the opportunity. I countered, the bunch strung out but I couldn’t get away. I rolled to the side, and waited for the back straight and the headwind. As we go there, I went again – this time I got a gap, and pulled another rider with me. We both dug deep to build a bit of a lead, but I could see the other rider was struggling. As we crossed the line I attacked again and went solo.
Over the next couple of laps I built a decent lead – maybe 20-30 seconds. I could see breaks forming and collapsing behind me, but I kept up the pace. I wanted to make sure that when I was caught, it would be by a strong breakaway, and not the whole bunch. After another couple of laps I could see I was now being closed by what looked like the bunch. Turns out it was a break of around 12 riders. I eased up over the line to make sure I was not countered and could go with this group.
Now I was in a large break, and for the most part everyone was working…only one or two avoiding turns. The bunch were not far behind and Warren and Ste were doing their best collecting tickets and disrupting chases. We had to work hard to build a lead. Eventually we sorted ourselves out and pressed on. One or two dropped of the back, but the rest stuck with it. For the next dozen laps we built an maintained a 1 minute lead. Nothing more to write here.
As we approached the last 5 laps, the messing about started. Only half the group were pulling turns and I could start to feel the early efforts in my legs. I knew I would stand no chance in a 12 way sprint, and so the group had to be reduced. I tried to get away a couple of times – to split the group up – unsuccessfully. On the final lap, I dug deep over the line and took a few with me. Past Monster Munch corner, I went again and took another rider with me. We were being chased by 3 others, and as we hit the last turn we came together as a 5, with the rest of the break a couple of seconds behind.
A lad from Maxxis went first, from a long way out. I was second wheel and so had to pull him back…burning the last of my matches in the process. 200 yards out, the four of them launched their sprint and I was left behind. My focus now was staying in front of the guys sprinting behind me. I crossed the line in 5th place. As the winner crossed the line, he threw his arms in the air. Big mistake when you are in a closely contested sprint, in the wet, with a crosswind. He lost his balance and swerved straight into the path of the other sprinters. One lad from NCC got his front wheel clipped and went straight over the bars. Thankfully he was OK, it was wet, he slid more than fell, but cut his skin suit to shreds. Amazingly, there was not a mark on his S-Works Tarmac, only a brake calliper that got pushed against the wheel.
Inevitably the race winner was DQ’d for dangerous riding, which is a real shame as he was really strong in the break, but a foolish moment meant it was all in vein. Lesson learned, and I guess he is thankful the crash was not more serious. As a result, I moved up to 4th place, which I was kind of happy with, but disappointed that I spent too much time working in the break and left nothing for a late attack.
Still…I got the remaining points I needed, I stayed upright, and I stayed warm.
- Martin Lonie
- Paul Wilkinson
- Ben Trippier
- Kris Zentek
- Tony Greenhalgh
- Steven Fidler
- Ryan Ellis
- Charlie Critchley
- Lewis Ball
- Aaron Tonks
Thanks to the organisers Harry Middleton CC for today’s race. It was really well marshalled (I’ve never seen so many marshalls at Pimbo!) and they kept us safe all day. Thanks to the support staff back at HQ for the coffee and cake, which was really well received by the riders after 2 hours in the Skelmersdale drizzle!
Thanks finally to Ellen Isherwood, who decided that a morning photographing a bunch of idiots riding round a trading estate in miserable weather was a good way to spend Sunday…and we’re eternally grateful that you do, Ellen!
Next week is the TLI A/B National Champs, on my doorstep…a lie in!
See you there…