by Stephen Feeney
This weekend was a quiet one on the local race scene with a couple of races cancelled due to road works. I’d entered a race over in Yorkshire so would be one of just a couple of team members in action. Having been unlucky in this race last year (puncturing after less than 10 miles) I was hoping for better fortune this time round!
From my observations when watching the race after puncturing last year i expected this to be a race of attrition. The 3 and half miles or so circuit, to be covered some 20 times, wasn’t especially tough but it was draggy in places with lots of sprinting out of corners so would definitely take it’s toll on riders as the race progressed. Having seen early break away attempts fail last year I decided to be patient and wait until the second half of the race until I got involved in the action.
The first part of the plan went pretty well. Halfway round and the bunch was largely intact. There was a small group a minute or two up the road (which I only found this out later). The bunch had trimmed down a bit and it was still ‘race on’. I had a quick chat with Carl Potter of Lancashire Road club, who seemed to have a similar race strategy to me, and we were pleased to have managed to not expend too much energy just yet. Carl suggested it had been a steady start to the race but the almost 27mph average speed at that point suggested not! After the half way mark i decided to try and get involved. Attacks were coming thick and fast, especially on the draggy section towards the finish, but with no success.
As we hit the draggy section with just over 2 laps to go there were 2 riders trying to escape from the bunch and they had a small gap. They were Carl Potter and Rob Mitchell of Out of the Saddle CC. I knew Carl was on good form, I also know Rob from racing over the years and know he is a strong rider. I decided to try and get across to them and as I attacked there was a moments hesitation from the bunch which gave me all the encouragement I needed to persist with the attack. I caught Carl and Rob and we drove hard up the drag, up through the finish and down towards the back of the circuit and we were soon almost out of sight of the bunch. We could also see the lead group of 3 riders.
We pressed on and caught the lead trio with just 2 miles remaining. This meant we had a lead group of 6 and we were all being very cagey. A couple of willing riders were happy to keep the lead group rolling along so I left them to it while I focussed on the finish.
The finish straight was around 200 meters long and followed a tight left hand bend. It was slightly uphill but my plan was to be on the front, or very close to it, going into the turn and then go full gas to the line. Just before the final left hand bend Rob attacked, this followed a very cagey last ascent up the drag, I jumped on his wheel and hit the bend in second place. Rob hurtled around the corner at breakneck speed but luckily with it being a left hander I was confident enough to follow. Such was the pace that one of the lead group almost lost control and narrowly avoided ending up in a bush! As we exited the corner I sprinted hard, past Rob and all the way to the finish line.
I even opened up a little gap so I had time to get my arms in the air for the finish line photo 😊.
With this being the Ian Mountain memorial Road Race, I was awarded with a splendid trophy by Ian’s family, who can be seen in the presentation photograph. Whilst being awarded the trophy I was particularly happy that I’d made an extra effort to comb my hair.
I’d like to thank the organisers and Wakefield CC for putting on a great event and Patrick Slice for the photos.