Welsh National Champs and Bashall – the long and short of it.

Words by John MacKellar

There have been much less posts and reports from me as of late due to reaching the busiest time at work and university. Now, it seems like the the storm has passed. I’ve got a brief report of the West Pennine Road Race, East Lancs Road Race and the Welsh Road Race Champs. If you only want to read about this weekend’s race then just scroll down to the bottom. 

West Pennine Road Race 2/3/4 12/05/19

The West Pennine Road Race took place on the Bashall Short Circuit and it was the first day of our week long summer. There were 5 of us from the team at this race me, Tom Bracegirdle, young Alex, young Ste and it was Si’s first race since his crash.


Si back in action at the West Pennine Road Race

There were a couple of early moves that went and got brought back. The main break of the day was 4 strong and they had opened up a gap of a minute seemed to be holding it quite well. However, the main bunch hadn’t eased off, I looked down at my garmin after an hour and was surprised to see the that I’d been at threshold for the first hour. This high pace was unsustainable for the break and they got brought back.

Nothing significant had happened until about 2 laps to go (of 14) when everyone was tired from the constant attacking. A couple of lads slipped off, it seemed like a soft attack but no one chased. They were joined by a few more and then there were 6 in the break.

As we came on to our last lap, we came down the descent and flew up the little rise from the bridge at 30mph and had to dodge e-cyclists as we approached the turn. There were still 5 of us from the team in the bunch at this point, I found Ste’s wheel as we approached the long drag up to the finish and followed him as he began to move up. Ste and I passed Si as we hit the top of the rise and there was a pinch point due to some traffic, I got through alright but I think Ste and Si got held up.


More of a drag than a climb but still made the legs hurt

I was on the right of the road as we approached the final left hand turn and I saw Chris Thomas go for a long one. I followed him and came round the corner 2nd in the bunch, not yet on Chris’s wheel. Chris had kicked but it was an uphill drag into a head wind and those sheltered in the bunch were gaining on us. I couldn’t get on to Chris’s wheel and was fading fast. Riders passed me and were closing on Chris. I saw Alex go past in the mix. Chris managed to hold off the chasing bunch but only by half a wheel. Alex did well to get up there and took 8th in the bunch sprint finishing 14th.

Here’s the link to the race on strava

East Lancs Road Race 2/3/4 19/05/19 – Bashall Long

I had been looking forward to this race since I punctured on the first lap of the SB hub race on the same circuit weeks before.

Weighing less than most people’s weekly shop, 5 laps of the hillier course sounded great to me.

This time, it was just Ste and I racing and we headed to the race together to the sound of some rock classics. The difference between this race and last weeks firstly was that there was a lot more climbing and there were cash prizes for the KOM and the prime every lap!

This changed the dynamic of the race and made it much more aggressive with people attacking on the climb and going for the primes.


The climbers in their element

Ste got into a 5 man break at around half away and they disappeared up the road and it looked like a good move. They were away for almost a lap when a few riders attacked on the descent to Chaigley and I latched on to them. There were around 8 or so pulling turns and catching the lead 5. I thought that this was a strong position for us to be in with 2 from the team in a group of 12. However, people stopped pulling and the remainder of the peloton caught us. Nevertheless, the high pace had whittled the bunch from 60 to 30.

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Ste got into a move that opened up a gap quickly

On the last lap, Sam Fairhusrst (Bill Nickson Cycles) and Dec Hudson (Liverpool Century CC) slipped away and opened a small gap of 30 seconds. They stayed in view as we hit the Chaigley Climb. I got a small gap with a couple of strong lads as we came towards the final descent, it came back together but was strung out so I held a good position coming in to the final km up the rise to the finish. My legs held out in the bunch gallop and I finished 10th overall with Ste just behind in 12th. I was very pleased with that result, marking my best finish in a road race and showing progress from racing as a 3rd cat last year.

Here’s the link to the race on strava

Welsh National Road Race Champs E/1/2

This race was announced later than other races and took place the same weekend as the Divs. On a ride in the Peaks, my friend Dave Scott, had told me about the race and the course in Ruthin sounded exciting. Jimmy from the Team also had enough Welsh in him to be eligible for the Championship race so that made us two from the team. We were up against an elite field with two riders from Vitus, two from the Welsh Academy, Ribble and Richardson-Trek.

This would also be my first E/1/2 race and longest race of the year so it would definitely be a real test if I could match the pace in this race. The course was 120 km in total, with two laps of a 45 km loop including an ascent of the Nant Yr Garth Pass and then 4 laps of an 8 km loop around Ruthin town centre on closed roads.

My plan was to try stay towards the front on the main climb so as to be the right side of any splits.

Jimmy’s plan was to attack and he was in the first break of the day.

Meanwhile the pace was high and the break was still in view. Most of the elite riders were still in the main brunch, biding their time.


A rare flat section of the course in Ruthin

The Nant Yr Garth Pass has two sections, the first part and my favourite is the main climb that snakes up through the trees, then it drops slightly and continues to drag on up on a very grippy surface, where we turned right at a roundabout onto an exposed road and into the wind. As we hit the section in the trees, I was well positioned and on the wheel of Dylan Kerfoot-Robson (Vitus) and felt good. I shifted to my preferred stance of climbing out-of-the-saddle and held my position as we headed out of the trees. As we climbed out towards the roundabout the pace started winding up and it was starting hurt. We hit the wind and the bunch was completely strung out. This had brought the break back to within touching distance.

Then 3 riders attacked hard and had shot across to the break almost immediately. Others were trying to respond so escapees were almost brought back. Jimmy had seen this as the end of the break and came back into the bunch. Ben Granger (Wheelbase CabTech Castelli) had managed to latch on to the attacking riders, but his breakaway companion did not. The elastic eventually snapped and they disappeared.

Within 10 km another three had attacked into and made their way to the lead group of three. Then we rolled into Ruthin to start the 4 laps of the finishing circuit with Jimmy and I still in the main bunch.

The town centre had been closed off for us, barriers were up and

the crowds were the biggest and best I’d raced in front of.

With 2 laps to go, or 16 km, Rhys Howells (Richardson-Trek) had attacked with Chris Owram and I rolled the dice and tried to get across to them. It was a huge effort to get across but I had a gap, so it felt like it was worth sending my heart rate soaring towards it’s maximum. But it was not. Too many others had had a similar idea, so the bunch decided to bring us back. That effort had cost me so it was time to sit in the wheels and try and save any little energy I had left.

On the next lap, just before we started the climb in to the town, Jimmy put in a well timed attack and got his head down and opened a small gap. It wasn’t huge and he was within throwing distance as we climbed up to the castle for the finish. Jimmy managed to hold the rest of the bunch off to finish 10th and his efforts were rewarded with a great result.

As we hit the bottom of the climb and sprinted out the last corner I was mid bunch, but when I stood on the pedals there was nothing there. I was going backwards as everyone wound up for the sprint. I ended up 24th. Well done to Grufford Lewis (Team Ribble) who won.

Here’s the link to the race on strava

Thanks to Ellen Isherwood for capturing the racing on camera.

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