By Kris Zentek.
Back we go to Bickerstaffe. Same HQ, different course (and it’s a Saturday, which confused my wife no end). This time, it was the erm…Bickerstaffe circuit – 12 laps of a 3ish mile loop where the only real ‘features’ were two left turns, and the minefield of Lancashires finest dumped all over the road by the local farmers. Other than that, it’s fast and flat.
The race today is a 2/3/4 cat, and because it’s short, it qualifies as a Band 4. So not many points up for grabs. We have 5 from the team turning up today…Craig, Ste, Si, Tony and myself. There are other teams well represented too. So it could be a tactical race, or it could just be a smash fest. Either way, we have some strong riders here, and expect to come away with a result.
As we all warmed up, we complained about the cold weather, we complained about our aches and pains, and we debated whether black bar tape or white bar tape was more pro. No tactics were formulated, but we rolled off at 9am content that we had at least agreed that saddle colour must always match bar tape colour…as long as it’s white.
Onto the race…
People attacked. People chased. People brought it back.
I attack. Nope…this break is not working. Back to the bunch.
Ste attacks. Got a gap with a small group. People bridge. Bigger group.
Si and Tony bridge. Bigger group. I say to Craig “That’s the break”. We float to the front and start collecting tickets.
Big group off the front…so people want to join. Craig and I follow and close the moves.
Meanwhile in the break, three Chrono boys are expected to do all the pulling. Not happening. Combine this with the attacky bunch behind, they get reeled in.
Now we are into lap 7.
Craig is first wheel, I’m about 5th wheel. Craig makes contact with the group on the rise at the back of the course, headwind. Perfect. I attack over the top.
Got a gap, keep pressing on.
Bigger gap. Make the turn to the descent. Someone from Bioracer is bridging, bunch is also chasing. Too risky to wait, so I press harder. Chase stops. Gap increases.
1/2 lap later, Someone from Bioracer is bridging again. This time they are closer, and the bunch is further behind. Good. I’ll ease off and wait. It’s Mike Ashurst. Good – he’s strong and will work. Shit – he’s strong and will try to win.
Two more bridging. Bunch still way back. Guy in all black, I’m hoping it’s number 60 Chris Booth. It is – excellent – strong as an ox, and another hard worker. He’s got a guy from Crimson, Matt Hallam, with him. They make contact, and we start to work.
Through & off wasn’t working well with just 4, so I call 20 second turns. Better. Pace is higher now.
Laps tick by. Matt starts to miss the odd turn. He’s suffering, we all gee him up and he starts to roll through again, but it’s clear he’s not having a good day. He does a turn where he can. At some point later he concedes 4th place, and we let him sit in.
3 laps to go Chris launches for the last Prime. We let him take it, keen not to disrupt the flow. As we hit the descent, I see Si rolling back the other way. Punctured. Bad luck Si…
2 laps to go, Chris launches an attack up the rise. He gets a few seconds on us. Mike and I pull him back just as we reach the descent, each burning a few matches in the process. It hurts, but we are back together.
We roll past the bell for the last lap. The bunch are still in sight…maybe 15 seconds. We keep working hard, each putting in big turns.
As we approach the last left hander into the finish straight, the bunch are now out of sight. They must be messing about. good.
In typical fashion, I’m on the front. I try to slow them into the turn and try to sprint round it. Doesn’t work, they are still with me.
200m to go, Chris attacks. Mike follows. I give it everything to get on his wheel.
100m to go, Mike is out of the saddle and goes past Chris. I’m still on his wheel, but I can’t get past him.
Mike takes the win by a bike length from me, I take second place, half a wheel in front of Chris. Matt rolls in a few seconds later for 4th.
The bunch sprint is a few seconds behind him, and Tony takes a place in the top 10. The rest of the team did a great job setting things up for me to get away, and did an even better job shepherding the bunch to allow us to stay away.
We don’t need race tactics 🙂
So, it’s another second place for me, and more points for the team, but I feel disappointed yet again to not come away with the win. It’s one of my season goals.
- Michael Ashurst – Onimpex Bioracer RT
- Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster
- Christopher Booth
- Matt Hallam – Crimson Performance Race Team
Thanks to the Organisers and helpers at Southport CC for putting on another great event. Thanks as always to the NEG outriders, lead cars, first aiders and all of the marshals who kept us safe on the roads during the race. And finally, thanks to Ellen Isherwood for being there to capture those memories in still frame for us to use!