by Adam Baines
I’ll be honest, my racing season this year has been somewhat Staccato. With races being cancelled and the inevitable rejections from others, I’ve just not had any consistent weekends of racing, which has made it hard to stay focused and even motivated to race. Today was no exception.
As you’ll all be aware Sunday was the first day of the anticipated heat wave and with the ¾ race being an afternoon start I’d already had a lovely morning in the garden with my two boys playing football and having water fights, making it all the harder to tear myself away to do 40miles round an industrial estate in Skelm! So why do we do it? I was asking myself the same question…
I got to the race HQ in glorious sunshine. The new race HQ was the Truck Stop café just off the race route. Now I don’t know if was the weather but this was a great venue. With its beach shack feel, back to back eastern European lorries and sofa clad decking outside, it felt like a bar in Benidorm! They even had the football on a big screen outside! With this happy atmosphere and a few familiar faces (Rick #PDH Taylor and my new team mate John McKellar) my mood was lifting and I was starting to look forward to racing.
My plan was to sit at the back, wait for the last prime and attack. John’s plan did not involve a bunch sprint so he aimed to get in an early break and hopefully make it stick. The first half of the race was fairly uneventful and easy for me. Sitting at the back hinders the view of the attacks and chases that where happening at the front but having the whole peleton protecting you from the wind also meant that the effects of any attacks where relatively innocuous. I could see the occasional escapee or two get a small gap before being chased down by the negative pack behind. And it was this negativity that stopped John getting away. I was just hoping all this foreplay was wearing the stronger lads down enough for me to get away when I’d planned.
About half way through the race and earlier than I’d planned, a promising looking group of 6 lads got away and they seemed to be working well together so I decided I had to get across. I attacked but immediately 2 lads jumped on my wheel. I did a good turn but thought, I’m not dragging you all across without getting a turn out of you, so I flicked him through. I got no response and not even a sniff that anyone was willing to come through so I went again and got a small gap over my remoras.
I bridged across to the break and we still had a small gap over the bunch but more attacks were coming as the group I was now in started to look more threatening to the rest of them. We were doomed and I knew it, so I sat up and took up my position at the back again to recover. Another 10 minutes went by and I’d recovered nicely and in time for my original planned point of attack. The last Prime. I’d noticed that Liverpool Braveheart had 5 riders in the race today and being scouse, they’d been particularly interested in the free cash available from the primes 😉 Sure enough they started to move up for the sprint. I stayed put, anticipating a mass slow down after the spoils had been won and that would be my cue. Liverpool Braveheart’s Peter Bracken took the prime and to his credit the guy carried on with another lad using the small gap they’d gained in the sprint.
I went after them but everyone jumped on my wheel again. I wasn’t willing to burn my sprint matches carrying everyone else so I sat up. A few laps went by and the gap got bigger. I wasn’t happy and I didn’t care if I dragged everyone this time so I got to the front and drilled it. I did a couple of laps occasionally looking for some help only to be met by the Liverpool lads team mates doing a great job blocking the chase. I wasn’t sure how many laps we had left to chase them, until I heard the bell. I’d made good ground on them but it wasn’t enough and I certainly wasn’t going to catch them in one lap. I slowed down and a few lads went past at pace in the build for the final sprint. Not wanting to fade to the back I jumped on the wheels and kept a great position. On the last corner I was 4 th wheel and feeling good.
A strong looking lad from Chester went for it and I jumped on his wheel hoping he would carry me closer to the finish but he faded a lot sooner than I’d hoped leaving me a lot of work to do! I kicked and ended up on the front with the leaders in sight! I had clear road in front of me and kept the power on not looking back, hoping to hang on for 3 rd …. but having started the sprint so soon, with 100m to go I started to fade. 1, 2, 3 and what seemed like 20 riders came past me. I was gutted but at the same time realised that I’d loved the racing and I was pleasantly reminded, that is why we do it.
Not the best result for the team but a great rehearsal to do it all over again in the same place next week! Well done to Peter Bracken and Nigel Modlinsky, who timed the break to perfection and worked really well to stay away and of course, special mention to Peter for taking the win.
Thank you to all the marshals NEG riders and Commissaires who all work really hard to make these events safe and enjoyable. Thank you to Fred and Heather Bamforth for organising a full day of racing for everyone and choosing the new ‘holiday HQ’. Also thanks to Fred Chiltern for the Pictures!
Finally, thanks to our sponsors for their continued support: Chronomaster Ltd, Leisure Lakes Bikes, Specialized, OTE Sports, Pearson Ferrier