High On Bikes Clieves Hill Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

This season so far has been really up and down for me. Mostly down. As we are entering August, the chase for points is now on, and I have a lot of catching up to do. Kicking off the second half of my racing season was the Clieves Hill Road Race hosted by High On Bikes. This is one favourite races of the season, as it is always very well organised, supported and catered, and it’s a rolling course that suits me very well.

I got to HQ pretty early to get a decent warm up on the turbo, and with the weather being dry and bright, I made the most of it. There were plenty of distractions at HQ with riders signing on, the marshalls and outriders planning their strategy, Dan Whelan running over the Chief Commissaire*; the usual sunday morning sights.

* Tom Greep looked in quite a bad way after he was knocked over, and very luckily the medical team were right next to him when it happened. He received immediate care, and in true racing spirit, still managed to lead the race allowing it to happen. We are all really grateful for that! After the race, back at HQ, it looked like Tom may well have suffered a broken ankle. We all hope you recover well Tom, and hope to see you back in the racing scene soon.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

We rolled out of the HQ onto the course for 14 laps of the Clieves Hill circuit. The finish is on a short steep climb, but the rest of the course is fast and punchy. We were  stopped on the main road for another briefing (probably just an excuse to allow us veterans an opportunity to have a pee), and then we were off.

The first lap was uneventful, the group staying together. I used this as an opportunity to move up to bunch and settled into about 10th wheel, as I wanted to try and get in the break (there is always a break on this course, and it usually sticks). Into lap 2, and as we approached the shallow climb the pace quickened and we were strung out. A few riders, maybe 6, attacked and broke the elastic. At the top of the climb is a sharp left turn and is always a good place to get away, so I pressed on up the climb. Looking behind me I could see a couple of riders had come with me and that the bunch had eased off. I wanted to try and bridge to the breakaway before the descent, because the back part of the course was into a headwind. I just made contact as they turned left into the descent.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

The two riders that were with me had fallen back to the bunch, but I could see that others were making their bid to join the break. Soon it had swelled to around 12, and we were away.

With a group so big, it was always going to be hard to get everyone working. There were a few sandbaggers but most of the group were working hard to put some distance into the bunch. It didn’t take us long to get the gap up to around a minute, and for the rest of the race the gap bounced between 45 and 90 seconds. For the most part, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful. The group stayed away, but it was hard work trying to keep everyone working as a unit.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

There were two prime laps on lap 5 (for a £20 High on Bikes voucher) and lap 10 (for a free massage), and this was really the only bit of action we saw prior to the finale. The sandbaggers suddenly sprung into life as they bid for the prizes – they really must have wanted that massage! – before falling back to the back of the group. As the laps ticked by, so did the energy levels, and eventually more riders (including myself) started missing turns, trying to save energy to cover any late surges…and for the climb to the finish.

 

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Credit: Alex Reed

 

The Finale

Lap 11…Tom Knight and Louis Szymanski launched an attack as we crossed the line for lap 11. They built a decent lead quite quickly and kept a 10 second gap going into the descent. The group weren’t really working to pull them in, and so at the bottom of the hill into the headwind, I made a bid to join them. I seemed to be stuck in no-mans land – slowly closing the gap, but I could see the group were chasing me too. I didn’t want to burn too many matches incase a counter went, so I eased up and let the group pull Tom and Louis back in. At the top of the climb, we were all back together.

Lap13…Tom and Louis attacked again – same place, but this time with a lot more intent. By the time we got to the decent they were well out of sight. Again, the group were not working to catch them and this time, they were allowed to escape. We didn’t see them again until after the finish.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

After the bell, inevitably we started attacking each other, but nothing was allowed to stick. We rolled into the left turn up Clieves Hill to the finish line. By this point I had nothing left in the legs, and was quickly passed by most of the group. I rolled in 10th place. Brian Rigby was clearly stronger than the rest of us, and took the last podium spot with a clear gap.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

Not long after Si Dep rolled in at 18th place, and I learned about the day he and Craig had had, disrupting the bunch to allow me to get away, and allowing our group to build up a decisive lead. They chased down every attempt for a chase group to form, and for just two riders to do that all day, would have taken a lot of hard work! Craig had retired early, not surprising as he is nearing the end of his very successful season, and traditionally wraps things up in August. I’m really grateful for that support and I hope I can return the favour in another race! Cheers boys…

Results

  1. Tom Knight – VC Londres
  2. Louis Szymanski – ABC Centreville
  3. Brian Rigby VCUK VELOCHAMPION
  4. Tom Lowe
  5. Dan Whelan – Onimpex Bio Racer RT
  6. Jamie Fletcher – Ellan Vannin CC/Appleby
  7. Christopher Booth – Cadence Cycling Performance
  8. Declan Hudson – Clay Cross Road Team
  9. John Rigby – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  10. Kristian Zentek – Team Chronomaster
  11. Joseph Hanlon – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  12. Richard Taylor – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  13. Alexander Simmons – Pro Vision Race Team
  14. Darran Acton – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  15. Steven Fidler – Crewe Clarion Wheelers

Although my result was not great, this was a good race for me. I’ve been struggling for the first half of the season, and today marked a bit of a turning point. My form is improving, and I hope I can carry this into the rest of the season and get some decent results.

I’d like to finish off by thanking the team at High On Bikes for putting on yet another high quality and very successful race – the Clieves Hill Road Race is definitely a highlight, and you didn’t disappoint this year! I’d like to thank all of the marshalls and motorbike outriders for a superb job keeping us all safe on the road. I’d also like to thank the volunteer caterers back at HQ for an amazing spread when we got back!

Lastly, I’d like to thank you to local photographers Alex Reed, and friend of the team Ellen Isherwood (for choosing our race to try out her new camera). Your photo’s did a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the race, and everyone appreciates it for the memories it brings!

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Emergency Services RR Championship

By Adam Baines

For those of you old enough to remember ‘Quincy’ and the opening line of “ladies and gentleman, welcome to the most fascinating world of Police work, FORENSIC MEDICINE!!” followed by a sequence of trainee (American) Police officers passing out as Quincy uncovers a corpse, well that was what first inspired me to become a Forensic Scientist. Of course Quincy has now been superseded by the glamourous likes of CSI: Miami and CSI: Vegas but Quincy is where it all began and it’s Quincy I have to thank for giving me a crack at a national jersey.

‘How?’ I hear you all cry; well as a Forensic Scientist I am employed by a Police Force which affords me the right to take part in the annual Emergency Services Road Race Championships. The race takes in competitors from each of the emergency services, Fire brigade, Police, Ambulance and the AA (jokes) (other roadside breakdown cover also available).

One great thing about these races is, if anything goes wrong, there are plenty of qualified people to look after you! If the bikes were colour coded according to your service, it would make for quite an interesting and logical race convoy too, red bikes, blue bikes, white bikes and yellow neutral service 😉 but unfortunately (for me), they were definitely not always in this order….

This year was being hosted by Thames Valley Police (TVP) and organised by Nick Clarke. Before I go into the race itself, a special thank you has to go out to Nick, who must have lost a few years of his life trying to get this race to go ahead. Road works springing up all over the place meant that not only the original course was cancelled but the 2nd and then the 3rd contingency courses were also cancelled. At one point it was to become a national crit championship! But through Nick’s tireless work we had confirmation, on the Friday before the Sunday event, that a 4th road circuit had been found and approved by TVP. Hooray!!! Race on!!

Me and my 2 Police colleagues Neil Higgins and Gavin Rose travelled down to Buckinghamshire the day before and had plenty of time for a nice ride out to the course and do a couple of recce laps. The course was to be 12 laps of a 4.1 mile circuit. For a short lap it was quite a good circuit. It had a long drag into a tough headwind which turned onto a steep kick up at the end to the start/finish line, followed by a fairly fast descent down to a sharp left hander back in to the headwind.

This was my first race since the middle of June, but since then I’ve had 8 days riding my bike in the Dolomites and 2 consecutive weekends riding ‘nice n steady’ with my Team Chronomaster pals. So my legs were feeling very good and I was quietly confident of a good result today. The weather was sunny and windy. Great. A good recipe for a split, all I had to do was make sure I was in it.

Desperate for the jersey I’d been doing my homework and picked out a few key riders to keep my eye on. This was more difficult than I anticipated because most of the competitors were from the south and I had no idea how good they were. So my list consisted of the riders from the North that I had heard of and previous podium finishers of this same race. My tactic was to save my powder for about half way through the race and then try and get away. If anything went earlier I would hope to bring a few strong lads with me and bridge the gap.

First lap, a lad went up the road on his own. Checked my list, ‘nah, he’ll come back’ and no one seemed too keen to chase him, understandable given the headwind and the 50 miles left to go, so I sat in. The first 4 laps went to plan, I sat and watched a few attempts go and come back. On lap 5 I saw the winner from 2 years ago, Pete Nichols, move up the outside and ride off the front. He rode the whole course solo when he won, so I had to get on the back of him! I attacked, got across and immediately started to do turns.

A little earlier in the race than I had planned but with a strong bloke like Pete involved I was willing to give it a go. We had about 10 seconds on the bunch but my co-escapee had blown after the steep rise to the finish. With the bunch switching on to the danger of letting us go, we were doomed.

In the following laps I had a few more attempts and got away in some promising moves but it seemed that not everyone was able to work at a rate that would keep us away.
In the frantic attempts to get away I’d lost count of the laps and, while in a convoy chasing another attempt at a break, I checked my Garmin.

42 miles on the clock, my race brain told me 2 laps to go and we’d just hit the headwind straight again. Just like Quincy, I was now getting frustrated with the lack of co-operation from the necessary authorities and it was time to do this on my own. A small group had just been brought back after a fast chase so I countered straight away. I was off the front into the headwind and gaining good ground. After half a lap the bunch were out of sight! A lap and a half to go to catch the front runner (or so I thought) or just hold on for second. I buried myself for another lap.

As the line was approaching I realised I wasn’t going to catch the winner, I was just happy with 2nd place. Then I could hear the bell ringing, ANOTHER LAP to go!! Foolishly I hadn’t taken in to account the mileage from race HQ. My heart sank but even Quincy made mistakes, so I didn’t give up and rode as hard as I could up the short climb. As I crested and looked back I saw a group of 6 bridging across to me.

Decision time. Do I go for broke and try and hold them off or sit up and wait for them. With my legs tiring and a strong headwind to face, I decided the best idea would be to wait for them and use them to recover for the sprint. They came through and the bunch were still another 30 seconds back. Brilliant, right move.

With 2 laps solo in my legs I had the perfect excuse to do fewer turns and my legs were coming back nicely. The sprint opened up and I managed to hold on for 3rd. Not the Jersey I wanted but a race I loved. I think Quincy would have been proud.

Congratulations to Graham Crow from London Fire Brigade for an epic 48 mile solo win. Thank you again to Nick the organiser, all the Commisaires, NEG riders and Marshals for making the race happen. And thanks to our sponsors Specialized UK, Leisure Lakes Bikes and Chronomaster watches for all their continued support.

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Worcester Trophy RR

By Jon Fowles

Due to unfortunate circumstances I haven’t “finished” a race in the last 5 weeks, a combination of race cancellations… and one race where overzealous cornering sent me into the undergrowth. So I was pretty keen to see how I’d fare in the Worcester Trophy Road Race this Sunday. This race takes place on a rolling, but fairly exposed circuit. The wind was high, and it was obvious that this would play a strong role in the proceeds of the race. My past experience of the circuit made me think that it would be hard for a breakaway to get established with the winds.

I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would respond to the rigours of racing, having had some time off racing, so I elected to stay tucked in the bunch out of the wind for as much of the start of the race as possible, hoping that a break wouldn’t slip away. The first few laps were frantic, very fast, and as suspected none of the initial breakaways would stick.

After about 2 of the 7 laps, I began to attack up some of the small inclines where I had a slight advantage over some of the more powerful riders. Unfortunately following every rise there would be a fast exposed section, and even if I had a gap I felt like I was getting blown out of the water pushing so hard in the wind. I couldn’t make it work, and to make matters worse a group of 12 riders had slipped off the front and gained over a minute advantage.

Chaos ensued in the pack, nobody was willing to work, the attacks carried on, and the break pulled their lead out. There was also some disruption involving a tractor splitting the peloton in two.

With three laps to go Brother NRG and Morvelo Basso (neither of whom had a man in the break) started to arrange a chase from the peloton. I helped out, thinking I had little to lose at this point, and we managed to bring the gap to the breakaway below the minute mark. However, on the last lap, with the break in sight, the chasing legs were tiring and it fell to pieces. I had nothing better to do than sit in and get ready for a manic uphill sprint for minor placings. I was pretty poorly positioned coming into the bottom of the hill, but managed to make up a fair few places and finished (maybe?) just within the top 20. A disappointing end to the race, but I’m hoping to come back stronger for the remaining races of the season.

Thanks to Worcester St Johns and the legend that is Adrian Bird for organising a great race!

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North Wales KOM Series – Round 3

Having suffered with a bad infection from a recent crash I decided to test my legs at the North Wales KOM series out of Ruthin..a decision I  soon regretted! Now my excuses are done I’ll get on with the write up.

I was excited to race. This was a ‘proper’ circuit that you didn’t have double figures of laps to do, I was hoping to take in the scenery…didn’t get much of a chance. There was a 5km neutral lead out from Ruthin and then the race started from the base of the first time up Nant-Y-Garth. The circuit was around 39km and involved climbing up Nant-Y-Garth and then a long descent back down towards Corwen and then a fast run down the A494 back to the foot of the main climb. On the 3rd time round the circuit you caried straight on after Nant-Y-Garth and up the infamous Horshoe Pass. A circuit for the climbers…of which I am not!

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Ruthin Circuit

We had 4 guys representing Team Chronomaster start the race (Ste, Craig, Kris and George), a few more had entered but unfortunately technical issues halted play for them. I turned up with Ste to a foggy, damp Ruthin. We were both wondering whether warming up the legs or staying in the car was the best decision, we obviously decided on the latter.

After a long neutral lead out we were at the foot of the first climb. A few riders fractured off from the gun, I decided that this wasn’t a race I was in contention for a decided to just give it a go up the climb to test my legs. I felt good, overtook one of the early guys to break away, looked behind me andsaw the whole peloton. Any chance of a early break was not happening for me. I slowly moved back in the bunch and regret leading the bunch up the climb at a high pace that I now had to try and maintain.

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Feeling a bit uncomfortable after the first ascent!

The first lap everyone seemed to be getting used to the roads and wet conditions. Everyone was riding well and communicating, I think I only heard one outburst in the whole race! (choppy riding!). On the descent back to Corwen was (where I believe) the winning move happened. A few riders were up the road and Louis Szymanski broke off from the main group and chased them down. Louis then attacked them and solo’d to victory! Very impressive riding!

Going up the climb a second time the pace was a bit more manageable. On the long descent a few breaks started to form. Being on a descent these never lasted long. With about 4 riders up the road I jumped on Richard Taylors wheel and we attempted to bridge, unfortunately Richard had a mechanical and there was no way I was bridging alone…back in the bunch I go.

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Ste enjoying the elements…

The last time down the A494 the pace eased off. A few teams had riders up the road and were doing their best to interfere. I knew I wasn’t going to make it up with the main bunch going full tilt on the last climb so I got to the front and tried to pick the pace up, hoping it’d help some of the other Team riders catch the riders ahead.

I lost the bunch on the kicker up into Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd as the mountain goats took off. I was with a small bunch of riders one of whom was Kris who I found had no rear mech from about 5 miles into the race. Impressive ride to get that far with only two gears!

I did the last climb at the best pace I could (about 100 watts less than the last two times!). Rolling across the line was enough for me at this point. I finished 45th, I didn’t crash so a win in that respect!

The story was very different for Craig and Ste who came in 7th and 22nd respectively………

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Thanks to VC Melyd for hosting an excellent series of races. Thanks also to Peter Nash for the images. More can be seen HERE!

Here is a great video from the series winner Ollie Blagden, footage of the finish 2 minutes in:

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Smithfield Road Race 16/07/2017

By Neil Wood

Another early start for me.  I woke up at 04:50 when my 19 year old daughter came home from a night out with her friends all back from uni.  My alarm was set for 05:00, so just decided to get up instead of lingering in bed for ten minutes. She looked at me in astonishment that I was up so early to compete in a bike race. These early starts are a regular occurrence of course, but she has no idea as she’s usually getting out of bed by the time I have finished the race.  This being new to her, she told me that I was “a bit daft”. I have to say, I actually agreed with her. She went to bed and I got my breakfast.

I collected John Myburgh on the way who recently moved to Buckshaw in a new build house on a newly built road. It’s so new, his postcode was not on Google Maps  and it took me to the wrong location. Coincidentally when Google  told me I was there, I  was outside another new build with an identical car to John’s in the driveway which caused some confusion. We had to resort to an old fashioned phone conversation, turn left here, right there etc.

Eventually after this faffing around we were on the M6 heading up towards Carlisle to race in the Rock To Roll Cycling Club road race at Smithfield.  We love the Rock to Roll races. They are always well organised, on great courses with stunning Cumbrian scenery.  They attract riders from around the North and the competition is pretty fierce, which makes great competitive racing. Of course the tea and cakes afterwards are the best yet. The skies brightened and the sun made an appearance and it looked set to be a perfect day for racing. We met our team mate John Bamford at the HQ as well as team mate Jon Fowles who was racing in the E/1/2 race. A few team tactics were discussed and the race was underway following a good length neurtalised zone.

As we made our way to the start line, I began thinking about this same race last year where I came 5th when I managed to get in a breakaway group on the last lap and gained about 30 seconds on the chasing bunch. It was a move that worked well for me. I decided that if I was to improve on last year, then I need to employ the same tactic again this year.  If so inclined, my report on this race can be read here…..

Greyhounds out of the traps is one way to describe the start of the race once the flag was dropped. A couple of teams took to the front with the intention of smashing the race to pieces. To a large extent this worked as riders began to be shelled out of the back early doors. At the end of the race my Garmin recorded an average speed just shy of 25 mph, so a pretty fast race. We kept ourselves near the front to do our usual thing of marking any attacks and where the opportunity presented itself, initiate our own attacks with the intention of getting away.

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John M and Neil teamwork. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

This happened towards the end of the second lap. I was making myself busy with a couple of others chasing down a 4 man breakaway group. They managed to get a short distance for a few miles, but we brought them back.  I happened to be at the front when they were eventually caught. It was then I saw two riders from Horwich CC take an opportunity to counter attack as we approached the 500 metre uphill drag to the start/finish line. They got about 20 metres and I was not going to do any more chasing at this point. I was hoping that John B or John M would see that I was at the front and not going to work, thus giving one of them a chance to jump across to the Horwich lads and get away. Intuitively,  John Bamford saw this, sprinted past me and caught them, his presence gave an additional impetus  as they sped away up the hill, whilst I still plodded along and made no effort to chase, with the entire peloton behind me. This worked for the best part of a lap, the three of them got out of sight, but were not forgotten and a concerted effort was made by the chasing bunch to eventually bring them back.

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John B on the attack with his two Horwich CC compatriots. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

Around half way through the race we saw Jon Fowles by the side of the road watching our race go past, we were not sure what happened to him, but afterwards he told us, in his words “Was doing a corner attack….but the ground attacked me instead” Jon has had a phenomenal season so far with a top 10 in every race he has entered including coming second to pro rider James Gullen of JLT Condor in the Elite race at Cockermouth.  He’s fine and so is his bike, some torn clothing but most of all, this little mistake has proved to us that he is actually human after all and we like him all the more for it!

I made several efforts to try to force a break by putting in some big attacks with a couple of other riders. We soon got caught though due to a lack of cooperation in sharing the work. When chasers caught us, they wouldn’t work either, they were happy to just chase us down.

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Neil on the attack. Picture courtesy of Robin Clark

This went on for the rest of the race, but nobody got away. The last lap was a bit frantic, there was a big crash that myself and John M avoided, but John B got caught behind it, fortunately he stayed upright, but did have to stop as at least 6 to 8 riders were down in front of him.  This affected his position in the bunch so had to chase hard to get back on. On the final lap, we entered the final stretch of road which carries on for about 3 or 4 miles before the left turning to the uphill finish line. The two previously mentioned Horwich riders took to the front and one of them was giving his team mate the lead out of his life. At least 3 miles of rolling road with a decent tail wind and pace was set at around 29 mph. Fortunately for me, I was fourth wheel taking advantage of the lead out and John M was on my wheel. We were in a great position, especially since the bunch got completely strung out single file due to the pace set by the Horwich rider. A few attempts were made by riders behind us to better their positions by coming out of position and riding up the line, but they couldn’t do it as the pace was too intense for them, and they fell back to their positions.

Entering the 500 metre uphill drag I got to third wheel and just started chasing the wheel in front of me, I could see he was strong so stuck with him with John M chasing my wheel. I was doing well, a cursory look behind and we had some distance on the main bunch, just a few scattered riders chasing us up the hill. Around 20 metres to go just when I thought I may be able to win this, the two riders in front sped up to try to take the win. I began to lose the wheel in front of me! I made a big mistake here, I decided to get out of the saddle to keep on the wheel and immediately cramped up in both legs, this cost me about a second or two and promptly slammed back into my saddle. This lost couple of seconds allowed two of the chasers to pip me on the line by a wheel and half a wheel’s length. I rolled over for 5th place and John Myburgh got 7th. John Bamford came home in the bunch as he was never able to recover his position after being caught behind the crash.

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Front bunch on uphill drag sprinting for the line. Picture by Ellen Isherwood

I was a bit annoyed with myself for trying to sprint out of the saddle, but still pretty happy with 5th place – the same as last year, but this time in a bunch sprint rather than being in a breakaway group. In the process of getting 5th, I accidentally got my second category promotion. I have always maintained that I would rather be a decent 3rd cat who can compete well, such as in a race like today’s rather than be a struggling 2nd cat. But there you go. It means that I am just going to have to train like a demon over the winter if I want to succeed next year. With our winter training programme and team mates around me offering endless encouragement and support, it’s a certainty that I will be working hard and living up to expectations.  So no alternative. Rather than this year be a decent 3rd cat, I am going just have to be a decent 2nd cat.

Many thanks to Robin Clark at Rock 2 Roll Cycles for another fantastic race

Many thanks to Ellen Isherwood for her continued presence taking great pictures

Thanks to sponsors LeisureLakesBikes  Specialized Bicycles  Chronomaster  OTE

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Posted in Blogs

3RT Dave Rayner Memorial

by Neil Wood

Just having returned from a trip to the Domomites last week with charity fundraisers for Bolton Lads and Girls Club, I was a bit out of sorts this week. We covered 650 miles and climbed 104,000 feet in 8 days so had plenty of mileage in the legs which was telling. On Tuesday I got a sports massage and some physio on a niggling knee pain, but generally speaking I was feeling pretty much ok for today’s race

It was only myself and team mate John Bamford out today, he was first reserve so got a ride and I had already been accepted. No real plan of action other than to mark any attacks and if legs were willing initiate any breaks. Not long into the race I realised that I was probably still feeling some fatigue from the Dolomites. At the back end of the trip, and at the back end of a tough day of 15,000 feet of climbing we attempted Monte Zoncolan where I got the serious bonk, and I realised that was really the last time I saw my legs and they were still stuck on the side of that toughest of tough climbs.

None the less, I persevered as the course was one that suited me, it was the Norland circuit near Halifax, which was more of an undulating course with a maximum incline of 6 percent and not a mountain in sight.  The race was just shy of 50 miles with 12 laps and the uphill drag to the finish line was about a mile long with a headwind and kicked up at the end to 6 percent.  Twelve of these climbs was going to be something of a challenge.

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The weather was great, lovely and sunny and a nice day for racing. There was a fell run or something going on nearby with lots of runners on the road and a nearby gymkhana meaning a fair bit of traffic. However when the fell run was over, all of the competitors assembled on the uphill drag and there were hundreds of people giving a lot of vocal support and applause which made me feel almost pro like!

There were a number of attacks that got away and ultimately pulled back in. The race was organised by 3RT Cycling and they had a good strength team who set out to control the race from the off and did a good job of doing so with plenty of attacks and constantly had couple of men in the breaks, with good counter attacking when opponents brought them back. I tried to get in a break with two of them at one point but to no avail.

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John was biding his time, we had a few conversations mid race but like me his legs were feeling the pace a bit. John is famous in our team for putting in huge attacks and getting into a solo break about two thirds into the race and his team mates holding things back to help him get away. This attack never came for the same reasons – that Zoncalon feeling was persistent in the legs.

One the bell lap I made sure I stayed near the front as it was my only hope of getting a decent placing. Probably due to tiredness, I left my sprint too late and the uphill was taking it out of me so only managed to cross the line in around 14th place, just outside the points, and John got boxed in with nowhere to go was just behind me. No top ten’s for us today, but a great day out, a good leg tester and great race on a great course

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Many thanks to the organisers 3RT Cycling for putting on a great race and in the process raised £300 for the Dave Rayner fund

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VC Beverley / Wilsons Wheels Road Race 2nd July 2017

This weekend was a big one in the international cycling calendar with 2 massive events taking place. The Tour de France and the VC Beverley Road Race.

With Chronomaster having narrowly missed out on selection for ‘le grand boucle’ I was taking part in the VC Beverley Road Race which, despite the apparent disparity in media coverage, I think we all know is the big one!

As most of my team mates were, in the words of ‘ Smashy & Nicey’, ‘doing great work for charity’ by cycling in the Dolomites, I was the team’s only representative. It was up to me to try and get in the mix.

I had a long drive to get to East Yorkshire and the Race HQ in the lovely village of South Dalton but the 11am start meant I didn’t have to wake at too much of an unsociable hour.

As I arrived at the HQ the sun was shining and it was nice and warm so I was able to have a nice ride before the race. This, I convinced myself, could pass as a ‘warm up’.

During the pre race briefing we were told that the circuit was narrow and sporting. I had never ridden the course but, as we were to cover it around 8 and a half times for a race distance of about 60 miles, I guessed I would soon become familiar! It was essentially a square circuit which went through the village of South Dalton, left, follow the road for around 2 miles, left up the finishing hill which was around 500 meters long then around 2-3 miles along a roller coaster of a road back towards South Dalton, turning left through the village where we’d started out from to complete one lap.

After a brief half mile or so neutralised section the race turned left and we were off! I’d started at the back (as usual) and it immediately dawned on me that this was an especially bad place to be on this occasion. The road was only a single car width, the bunch completely blocked it and there was absolutely no way of moving up the field. I was stuck at the back and decided I would have to change my usual tactic and somehow get to the front.

I could see 2 riders attack immediately and they were getting clear. I was in no position to do anything about this if I had been so inclined.

After 2 miles or so into a block headwind along a completely straight, slightly undulating road, we turned left up a hill. This was the finish straight, or at least it would be in another 8 laps. As the bunch strung out I saw this was an opportunity, perhaps the only one, to move up. Despite my legs complaining I managed to get very close to the front. On the drag through South Dalton, a few miles later, I managed to get to the very front.

As we turned left onto the long, straight headwind section we could see the 2 escapees but they had a good gap. Jake Birkin from Clay Cross RT jumped clear and gave chase. I joined him and together we got a small gap. With over 7 laps and 50 miles of the race still remaining we put our heads down and went in pursuit of the breakaway.

19866592_10155553953766055_498099107_n After around 4-5 miles we caught the leaders, Tom Wood of Prologue Racing Team and John Heapey of Squadra RT. With a small gap and 4 willing riders we committed fully to the cause not really knowing how the race would unfold. At this time we had a slender lead and 45 miles still to go!

We rode in team time trial formation with each rider doing their turn. As we pressed on the lead grew but only ever up to around a minute over the bunch.

As the laps passed by we didn’t seem to falter as a foursome and held our lead. With 5 and a half laps to go John started missing the odd turn and seemed most disheartened when there was still 5 laps to go but we persevered and, in my opinion, didn’t seem to be slowing down at all.

We were committed down the headwind stretch and shared the work perfectly, we rode sensibly up the climbs and seemed to smash it round the back, tail wind assisted section.

I later learned that the bunch had been fragmenting with chase groups forming but, thanks to us being able to hold our pace, nobody had been unable to cross the gap.

With 2 laps to go we lost John but as a threesome we didn’t seem to lose any momentum. We knew we were fully committed now and had no option but to keep going and try to stay clear. If a fresh bunch or break caught us now, our efforts would surely leave us weakened and our chances of glory diminished.

We pressed on. No cat and mouse tactics and no shirking. We could worry about the finish when we got there, if we could stay clear.

With 4 miles or so to go, and still holding our lead on the group, Tom cramped up (simultaneous leg and arm cramping he later revealed) on the penultimate climb, the drag up through South Dalton, leaving just Jake and I out front.

We both knew we had to keep going. On the final push along the headwind section we kept working and there was absolutely no glass cranking! We could worry about our finish tactics if we kept clear.

As we reached the final left hand bend towards the finishing climb I managed to manoeuvre Jake to the front. We’d been quite well matched through the race and I had no idea how the finish would unfold but thought my best chance would be to let Jake start things off.

I thought Jake might try and wind things up from the base of the climb to test the old fellas legs but he rode fairly sedately so I was waiting for him to start his sprint. I had no idea how my legs would react when he did.

As the finish approached we were both being cagey and didn’t want to start sprinting too early and blow it. With around 100 meters to go, and feeling like I had 100 meters of decent uphill sprinting in me, I went for it. I expected Jake to get on my wheel but when I glanced backwards I could see I had a slight gap so I just buried myself, ignoring the screams of mercy from my cramping legs, and I wasn’t slowing down.19832752_10155553953706055_2033634102_n

As I looked back again I had some 15-20 meters lead and, with the finish line now right in front of me, I knew I had it. I even had chance to think to myself ‘do I have time for some self indulgence?’. I did, so up went the arms for a great finish line photo!

Jake was second but Tom and John had been caught by the chasing group before the finish and ended up in the minor placings.

My victory was especially satisfying after such a long break away and, despite my tiredness, the long drive home would be no chore in my high spirited state.

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I’d like to thank VC Beverley for organising a great race on an exciting and challenging circuit and Jason Brookes & Simon Posnett for the photos.

 

 

 

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