Pimbo round 3 Croston Velo RR

by Adam Baines

Well it’s Sunday, again. John McKellar and I are racing, again. It’s Pimbo, again and the sun is shining, again!

Casting back to the Thursday before this race I didn’t think I’d make it to the start line after an ill judged training ride left me over dehydrated and in hospital on a saline drip. School boy error. Keep drinking water in this weather folks, especially if you’re doing 120miles with over 10’000ft of climbing!

Anyway what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so today after a few days recovery I was feeling good and wanted to take advantage of the continued good weather by riding out to today’s Race HQ at the Rainford Scout Hut. After a pleasant ride out I met up with John, pinned my numbers on and rolled out to the circuit. The tactics were going to be the same as last week; sit in and wait for 5 laps to go. If John gets in a break, block any attempts to chase.
The race got underway and to begin with it was a stark contrast to last week. Last week it kicked off straight away and we had a very fast first 5 laps. This week, the peleton were in danger of falling asleep in the first 3 laps. As I was feeling good, I was getting bored already, so with absolutely no intention of it ever achieving anything, I attacked.
This had the necessary effect and woke everyone up and they decided to chase me down. The counter attacks followed and finally the racing had started. I positioned myself a lot closer to the front this week and it felt much better being here than at the back like last week. A few breaks of ones or twos went and came back before a promising looking break of 3 went up the road containing our John! I immediately moved up to second wheel ready to follow any chases.


Over the next 5 laps I became the most hated rider in the peleton and sat on any attempts to bring the break back while John’s move got established. In a mischievous way, I really enjoyed causing trouble and it was rewarding to see John gradually moving up the road. Once they were pretty much out of sight and there wasn’t many riders left to annoy, I took up position a little further back to recover.


It seemed like John had got into the winning move and the next few laps were pretty uneventful. Croston had one strong looking guy who got on the front a few times and put in some big pulls which seemed to eat into the breaks lead. A 1 min gap dropped to 40 seconds and then down to 20 seconds. This seemed to reinvigorate the chase and John’s move was doomed.


They were caught with around 10 laps to go and I knew that if a counter went now with the right lads in it, it could be the move! But it didn’t come. The pace had really dropped off and with 5 laps to go I just attacked. I have no idea where it came from? It was almost a subconscious effort that got me a small gap over the bunch. Once I realised they were still looking at each other I buried myself to increase the gap enough to be out of mind. After a lap the moto Commissaire told me I had 12 seconds and I was still feeling good. But with 4 laps to go I knew it wouldn’t be enough so I had to go harder. I was committed now and if the peleton decided to sit up and wait for the sprint, I would be in a very good chance of taking the win.


However, there were still too many strong legs left behind who weren’t ready to let the win slip away. Chris Spencer from Omnipex bioracer and a Croston rider (sorry don’t know which one!) had attacked the bunch and got a small gap to bridge across to me but in doing so had drastically reduced my advantage. I looked back and decided it would be a waste of energy to keep pushing so I sat up for the bridging group. We pressed on for only a few hundred metres before we got caught with only 2 laps to go. Straight away Chris Quinn and Tom Warren from Croston countered. After my solo efforts there was no way I could follow. I had no idea at this stage how much I would have left for the sprint but I was determined to get something from today so I dug deep to stay near the front and in contention for a minor placing. On the bell lap John came up to the front ready to lead me out. It was a hairy few miles as elbows and shoulders bounced of each other fighting for position. John did a great job keeping the pace high right up until the kick. I’d managed to stay in a good position and held my sprint back after the lessons of last week. But this time, those that went early actually managed to hold on and I couldn’t get past enough of them in time. I held on to my position and came over the line in 8th position, which I’m really pleased with considering I’d just done 3 laps solo and I was nearly 90miles into my
ride by the time the sprint came. It might have been on Pimbo again , but it’s racing and all the complexities, tactics and of course luck make it so much fun.


Congratulations to Tom Warren from Croston velo for taking the home win. A big thank you to Dan Styler from Croston for organising the race and to all the volunteers and marshals who gave up their time to make the racing possible. Thanks to the BC Commissaires and the NEG riders for making the event as safe as ever.

Thanks to Ellen Isherwood for the photos (the only person who can make an industrial estate look interesting!

And finally thank you to all our sponsors for their continued support:
Chronomaster Ltd, Specialized, Leisure Lakes Bikes, OTE sports, Pearson Ferrier Estate Agents

Posted in Blogs

LVRC National Road Race Championships

by Craig Battersby

Saturday lunchtime: whatsapp message from team mate Tony Greenhalgh who had traveled down on Saturday to stay over- “The course is made for you and Feeney”. Happy days-  Ste and me were excited to see the hilly course as we traveled down early on Sunday.

We arrived at the picturesque village of Brailles to be greeted by Si Bridge (Manchester BC), Si isn’t known for his sunny outlook on life so hearing him moan about the course wasn’t too much of a concern. Next up Tony appeared after his race had finished and did a complete U-turn on his prediction from yesterday – “it’s mostly down hill, with no climbs” WTF!!!!???

So our pre-race enthusiasm started to falter, we cracked on in preparation though. I’ve got into the habit of having a red-bull before race starts, unfortunately Bridgey had knocked my open can over (or maybe that wasn’t an accident! 😉 ), no bother Ste had a 6-pack of Aldi Red-Thunder!! (£1.49 for 6 apparently). Just on that note, Ste LOVES a trip to Aldi, he mentioned on the way down he’s replaced all of his branded shopping with Aldi own brand apart from Lenor, he just can’t get the velvetty softness with the budget version. If anyone knows of a cheap but quality alternative, offering the alluring and enduring fragrance please let him know, you’ll make his day. Anyway, Ste took a swig of a Red-Thunder and passed it to me, little did I know he’d added another ingredient. I gulped it down but thought it tasted and smelled a little weird, putting it down to being a cheapo rip-off version at first but when my lips started to burn I had to ask- “Ste, this taste’s a bit menthol???”. He thought for a second then replied “Oh right, that’ll be the Olbas Oil I put up my nose that dripped out into the can”. Oh right, that’s OK then…..

Our pre-race prep continued…

We headed into the HQ for a few glasses of water, the temp outside was high and with no feeders we’d be limited to two bottles each so best to take on board as much as poss beforehand.

Tony (who’d finished an excellent 5th in his race earlier, despite having a cold) was there with his lovely wife Vicky. We got chatting about work and Vicky’s job as a Ambulance Technician. For some reason Vicky started telling us all about one particularly unusual job she attended that involved a ‘bottom’ a ‘hamster’ and a ‘broom handle’. I’m not sure if this was some sort of metaphor for the race to come?

A few pictures from Tony’s race-

 

So we lined up at the start for 4 laps of the 15 mile downhill circuit…

We set off and immediately Steve Dring attacked. I believe this is now written into entry conditions of any race he starts, sometimes it’s simply a race between him and his brother Paul to see who can attack first. Fair play, sometimes it pays off! Slightly more concerning, Ste Calland set off in pursuit. Steve’s an ex GB rider, has ridden the World Championships and won some very big races. I raced in the same team as Steve and rode the 9 day Milk Ras in Ireland with him, he’s a class rider and definitely one to mark. There was a constant stream of attacks and eventually a group of 6 formed off the front and held a gap just over a minute, Bridgey and Steve being the danger men as far as I could tell, Ste and me still stuck in the bunch.

By now we’d done a lap and had a good look at the course, the only ‘climb’ was a little kick before turning left and passing the HQ, it lasted about 45 seconds and was big-ring all the way. I’d watched everyone the first time up the ‘climb’ and felt confident Ste and me could get away, I mentioned this to him so the second time up we went hard. Surprisingly (at the time) Andy Turner (Element RC) passed me going mega quick, thinking about it since it’s no surprise at all. Andy is a current World Masters Champion in the team pursuit so clearly has world class power, especially over the short duration that we were going up. I took over from Andy as we crested the top and that was it, job done. Andy, Ste, myself and Chris Quinn (Onimpex Bioracer) had made the split and were well clear. We pilled on the pressure, Doug Dring (Ste’s dad) gave us a time check – 1:05 to the break. Half a lap later we passed Doug again on the backside of the course, this time having caught the break! We really motored across. According to STRAVA I averaged 29.4mph for the 5 miles we were chasing, including the climb and a few other little bumps.

So now the situation was 10 lads in the break with a gap of over a minute, 30 mile (2 laps) to go, to be honest I figured the bunch had no chance with all of us doing turns. I’ve got to give Bridgey a special mention here, he’s a great lad to have in a break because he always goes out of his way to do far more than his fair share on the front. He’ll happily sit there towing everyone along without any complaints until someone passes.

Into the last lap and Chris Quinn was the first to attack, gaining a decent advantage but nobody in the break seemed over worried- he wasn’t going clear and soon started to come back. By this point I was suffering with cramp massively, damage limitation was my only option. Into the final few miles and there were a few more attacks but none stuck, but with a mile or so before the ‘climb’ Ste Calland went, he quickly caught the guy who’d been hanging out front, dropped him and solo’d to the win. The rest of us arrived at the line as a group with Andy Turner taking Silver and Team Chronomaster’s Ste taking Bronze! I rolled in 6th fairly surprised that I beat the other 4 in a sprint! Great result for Ste and half decent for me, I had a great form at the start of the season and feel like it’s coming back now, highly unusual for me this time of year!

Thanks to Paul Dring for this clip.

The bunch rolled in just behind us so definitely hadn’t cracked- an indication of the strength in depth of the rest of the field.

Thanks to Tony Owen and the team at Stratford CC for putting on two fantastic events!

Most of all, thanks to my gorgeous wife Tricia for putting up with me!

STRAVA: https://www.strava.com/activities/1659375480

 

Posted in Blogs

The Racing Chance Foundation 3rd/4th Cat race Sunday 24th June

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

Posted in Blogs

Dave Hitchen Two Day Stage Race

By Kris Zentek.

Three stages over two day of a beautifully sunny June weekend. This is my second time at the event, and we put up a strong team for the 2018 edition. Representing TC were Si Deplitch, Tony Greenhalgh, Joe Bowers, Warren Gell and myself.

The format has changed a bit from a couple of years ago; this time we would be starting off Saturday morning with a 60 mile road race on the Town Green circuit (used in the Masters RR Tony won earlier in the year), then in the afternoon we would be smashing two laps of Pimbo in the TTT; finishing off on Sunday morning with another 60 mile road race on the Cobbs Brow circuit.

Stage 1 – Town Green Road Race

stage 1

https://www.strava.com/activities/1626729480

I’ve written about this circuit in previous posts, but if you don’t know it already, it’s fast, flat and exposed to the wind. It’s a great circuit for heavier riders, and ripe for a sprint finish.

There were plenty of attacks early on, but nothing was sticking.  As this was a team event and everyone was fresh, any dangerous moves were being brought back by teams not in the move. That is, until the pace went up and splits started. A decent group was disappearing up the road; Si and I were near the front of the back split, and I heard Si say that there were three Saints in it. He didn’t need to say any more, we jumped across and joined the break while Joe, Tony and Warren managed the bunch to let us get away. A short while later three more joined including another saint. This was now a big group – maybe 20+ in size, and save for some lapped riders.

As we neared the finish, the saints tried to get a smaller move going. Si and I struggled to get in any of the moves, and as a result were leant on to close them, which we did. After I pulled back on of them, maybe 3 laps to go, another went and I had no matches left…This was to be the one that stayed away.

In the remaining laps, other splits happened. Si and I kept trying to close them, but on the last lap the group completely fragmented. I rolled in at the back of the original break, 1:32 down on the stage winner Aidan Quinn. Si had the best team position, 1:25 down on GC.

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The team gathered back at HQ, and discussed our tactic to claw back some time. The TTT was critical now, but two of us were completely spent…

Stage 1 results & GC

stage1

Stage 2 – Pimbo Team Time Trial

stage 2

https://www.strava.com/activities/1627163909

After a quick feed and replenishing our fluids, we drove over to Pimbo. We were 6th team off, at 1:12pm. It was now 12:15pm, and so we had to start our prep.

Rollers and turbos out, I tried to get my legs moving but they just refused to play game. They hurt, and I had no energy – I had no motivation to stay on the turbo and gave up after 15 minutes. I thought riding some laps might get the energy levels back up. But after completing a lap at what I would consider tempo, my heart rate was high and I was out of breath. Not good! So I spent the last 20 minutes just relaxing.

Team order for the TTT…Tony, Joe, Warren, Si, Kris.

Tony’s role was to get us up to speed as fast as possible, and that he did. I expected him to ease off after a few pedal strokes, but just kept going! It wasn’t until we got to the back descent that he settled into position. At this point my legs were already screaming and I had to give it everything just to stay on the wheel! But as I rolled through for my 30 rev turn, I started to feel a bit of life in my legs again.

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By lap 2 we had lost Warren and were down to 4. Joe and Tony were pulling monster turns and kept us going strong. By the last straight Si started to fade and as we made the turn to the finish line we were down to three. I was on the front and emptied the tank. We all crossed the line together in a time of 8:48. Last year a time of 9 minutes something had won it, so we felt good. We knew that Bioracer had done an 8:47, so we knew we were not first.

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But after we had all left for home, we checked the results. 6th overall and Dooleys had done an 8:29!

Stage 2 results

stage 2

We had all moved up the GC, and we had two riders in the top 15, but we had lost more time to the yellow jersey that was now 1:48 ahead of Si…

Stage 2 GC

stage 2 GC

Stage 3 – Cobbs Brow Road Race

stage 3

https://www.strava.com/activities/1629076493

Sunday, the race started at 8:45. After a hard day yesterday we were all feeling the effects, and the warmup we did was minimal to say the least. But it was another warm, sunny day and that made everyone feel a bit better.

Cobbs Brow is a little different to yesterday. It was a much more rolling course, with the finish line near the top of a long, straight, 5% incline. We would be going up there 9 times to round off the 60 mile course.

The commissaire gave his opening briefing, and told us that there were ‘potholes everywhere’ – and boy, was that an understatement! We weren’t talking about the odd pothole, but whole stretches of road littered with them! The neutral start took us down the worst of it, so at least we got a taste, but it made for a very nervous bunch in the first couple of laps. What certainly didn’t help with the nerves was the crash that happened a mile or so after the start, where confusion over a left turn resulted in crossed wheels and a dozen or more get downs. Many of the GC contenders were included, and so we were neutralised again allowing them to get up, dust themselves off, and re-join the race.

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The jersey was being protected by Dooleys as expected, and the GC teams were attacking, as expected. Every move was being brought back, which allowed Chronomaster to sit in and attack ourselves. While Si and myself stuck with the Jersey, Tony, Joe and Warren bid to force a break and go for the stage win. But as GC riders bridged across, other GC teams closed them down.

About midway through, a small group of riders escaped up the road and it stuck. Dooleys and the race leader were clearly tiring, and this allowed other riders to clip off in small groups up the road. Soon the lead group started to swell, and contained GC contenders. There was a new virtual leader in the lead group, and the gap was increasing. I moved up the front, and as a couple more riders clipped off the front, I attacked and joined them, pulling another couple of riders with me. We were a group of 5 and started to build a gap.

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We didn’t expect to see the front group, but we worked hard and within 1/2 lap we had bridged across. We were passing riders who had been dropped from the lead group, so we weren’t sure how many remained. As we made contact, it wasn’t clear if this was the front or not, as the lead car was not in sight. We later learned there was a solo rider ahead, Mike Ashurst, who had taken advantage of everyone else leaning on the virtual leader Ben Joughin, and had clipped away on his own.

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We entered the last lap as a group of 9 or 10 riders, and as we approached the finish the attacks started, but we stayed together for a group sprint to the finish. Mike had taken the win with a 40 second gap, and Cameron Jeffers took the bunch sprint. I rolled in mid-pack, just behind Ben Joughin who had taken the yellow jersey.

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Matt Langworthy, who had attacked the remaining bunch a lap or two earlier, rolled in solo, showing the signs of someone who had closed a 1:30 gap down to just 30 seconds. He managed to take the last step on the podium. Tony came in next in a group of three, Joe and Si arrived with the bunch with Joe taking the bunch sprint.

Final Results

stage 3 GC

That late move put me in 8th place overall, and Si kept his place in the top 15 overall. Aidan, who started the race in yellow, had lost over 2 minutes to the winner Ben Joughin. The podium was taken by all of the riders who made the split on day one at the Town Green circuit, and on any other day we would have been there too. Disappointing, but that it road racing for you – there’s much more to it that being strong – you need to be tactical, and you need an element of luck being on he right wheel at the right time…

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Summary

I’ll finish by saying a massive thank you to the race organisers for putting on such a fantastic weekend of racing. We don’t get the opportunity to race that often in stage events, and we really do appreciate when people like Brian Rigby host them. We can only imagine how much planning must go into these events!

I’d like to pay tribute to Dave Hitchen, who we were racing to commemorate, and to thank his friends and family for being part of this great weekend. All of us riders hope that we honoured him well with an exciting race!

Finally, thank you to Ellen Isherwood who gave up her entire weekend to capture the race as it unfolded over the three stages, and for allowing me to share those moments in this report.

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Ian Mountain Road Race 3rd June

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.

Posted in Blogs

Port Sunlight / Onimpex Bioracer Circuit Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

Sunday 27th May. Blue skies, warm sunshine, and a decent lie-in as todays TLI race doesn’t start till 12 noon. That would normally be the case, but I have a new toy, and I was keen to test it out. So instead, I set my alarm for 7:00am. Breakfast, load the car up, and I’m on the road for 8, heading west towards Birkenhead. Today, Port Sunlight Wheelers and Onimpex Bioracer RT are joint hosting a closed circuit race in Birkenhead Park.

In the run up to this event, I’ve talked to lots of people who have reminisced about this circuit. It’s been around for a long time – vets of all ages cut their teeth there – but it kind of fell out of rotation for whatever reason. I’ve never ridden it, but the fond stories shared had peaked my interest. I rocked up at 9, smoothly negotiated my way into the *very* exclusive on-site carpark, and was met with a hive of activity. PSW members everywhere, resplendent in their black, white and red kit, getting everything ready inside and outside of the days HQ – a clubhouse on the edge of the park.

I was there early to record the first race of the day – the over 50’s race – due to roll out at 10am. My race started later (under 50’s) at 12pm. First job of the day was to ride round the course and familiarise myself with it, so I pulled the bike out and rolled across the green into the park.

Description…wide, sweeping lefts and rights. Crossing a main road at two points between park gates. One half rough, tree-lined and grippy, one half smooth and sun-kissed. Finish line was positioned on the crest of a gentle uphill drag. Only one bend I would consider to be tight. This was going to be a fast, technical race and I was looking forward to it!

I rolled back to HQ to grab a coffee, and returned to the finish line to decamp the new toy and let it fly. Race 1 started just a few minutes behind schedule, and I followed it round for the next 75 minutes, before I had to head back to get changed and prepped for race 2. Here is a short video of race 1, with the honours going to Andy Bennett from Onimpex Bioracer RT who managed to clip away mid race in a two-up that stayed away to the finish. Great ride!

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Onto race2…the under 50’s.

There was a pretty big field here – maybe 60+ riders – covering the Senior, Master, A and B categories. Several teams were well represented, which could either be an advantage or a disadvantage for a solo rider like me. Onimpex Bioracer had 6, and most of them liked to attack. I had no doubt they would control the race well, so my tactic was to follow their moves and hope that others pulled them back on the counters.

We did a neutral lap, and after rolling through the finish line we were off. 90 mins +5 laps, with a single prime on the hour. On minute 1, the attacks started. For a least the first few laps I wanted to stay up front and out of trouble. There was gravel here and there, a few potholes, and two sketchy park gates to go through. It’s not easy to stay at the front when the attacks are constant and the pace is high, but up there I stayed. I didn’t want to stick my nose into the wind too much early on, but I needed to be up there if any dangerous moves went up the road.

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20 mins in and nothing was really sticking. A few promising gaps were made, but there were plenty of other riders willing to help pull the attack back. Mike Ashurst had disappeared up the road on his own, but a puncture swathe end to that as we sped past him in the start/finish area.

From here, I was ready to get involved. I started following the attacks and the counters, and after a couple of failed attempts, managed to get into a small group through one of the gates. The bunch had been fragmented and there were a few riders trying to bridge across. On the rise to the finish, keen not to let the bunch pull us back, I made my first bid and attacked. Three riders came with me – Chris Quin, Andrew Disley and Matthew Dennis – the rest were left behind.

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From here there is not really much to talk about. the four of us all worked really well to establish a lead of around 80-90 seconds on the chasing group. We all did big turns on the front, no messing about (apart from the last few hundred yards!). It was one of the most well executed breakaways I think I have been in.

When we rolled through for the bell lap, we started looking at each other waiting for the attacks, but this didn’t happen till the roll up to the line. I was 4th wheel (for a change!) and behind Andrew Disley. But when he launched his sprint I just couldn’t follow him. Chris and Matthew could, but they couldn’t get round him. Andrew took the win, Chris second and Matthew third. I rolled in fourth again. But this time I had no excuses…I was in the right position, I just didn’t have the strength to beat three really strong guys at the end.

After the course-side podium presentations I rolled back to HQ to be met by what I can only describe as a banquet fit for the royal wedding! I have never seen so much food before, and it was all really good too. The catering volunteers were only asking for donations, and I hope they got a lot because they thoroughly deserved it!

I’ll finish off the report by giving a big, big thank you to Port Sunlight Wheelers, and Onimpex Bioracer for hosting such a fantastic day of racing. That was my first time at Birkenhead Park, and I am so looking forward to the next time I can race there! The whole day was well executed, well marshalled, well supported, and well enjoyed.

Hats off to everyone involved. I think you’ve set the bar pretty high 🙂

Photo’s courtesy of Robin Hennessy and Ryan Pike.

Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Westmoreland Tankard Road Race 27th May

by Adam Baines 

Today saw Tom (Hanlon), John (Bamford) and me take on The Westmorland Tankard. A 3rd and 4th Category race run on the Old Hutton Course. I’ve had mixed luck on this course over the years…

My first attempt was in my first season of racing and back in the days of CDNW. I got dropped pretty quickly. However, I did stay to watch the rest of the racing and witnessed a certain, now world tour, rider destroy the E/1/2 race and win by half a lap!
Second attempt was a bit better finishing in the bunch and third attempt was a disaster with a mechanical and another DNF.
But despite all this, I love this course. It’s got one decent climb in it up to the finish followed by a rolling section. The only flattish roads are on a really exposed part and today it was windy. After getting my backside handed to me last week at Bashall Eaves I was keen to put that to bed. IN the car park at race HQ I bumped into BamBam (John) who was looking a little bleary eyed! This course would normally suit him but, by all accounts, his daughters Birthday Party in the sun had given all the adults the perfect excuse to wash their BBQ sausages down with copious amounts of ale. Well, why not!??
After the race briefing Tom and I had a discussion about what we could do tactically. Tom’s had a great start to the season and this week gained his 2 nd Cat licence. this meant that, although he’s still allowed to race in a 3 rd /4 th Cat race, he wouldn’t be eligible for any points should he place. So Tom kindly offered his services to the elder statesman desperately in need of some points. The plan was hatched……..

First lap sit; in and let the strong looking lads chase the early breaks.
Second lap; Tom was to hit the front at the bottom of the climb and go as hard as he could (which is hard) all the way to the top. Hoping we would drop most of the field.
The plan worked brilliantly, first time up the climb was comfortable and a few early breaks got chased down before anything started to look dangerous. Second lap same again until we hit the foot of the climb. As the road started to rise I found myself in a good position near the front but I couldn’t see Tom. The pace had already been fairly high so I guessed he didn’t fancy it. I was wrong. Very wrong. Tom came flying past straight on to the front and drilled it, I mean proper drilled it. If I’d had the breath to shout ‘knock a rev off’ I would!

The field was shredded, Tom had put half the bunch in trouble and I’m guessing our own John B was in that half. I very nearly lost it too but I sank my teeth into my bars and just about hung on. Facing 3 more times up the climb I decided I’d ask Tom not to do that again until the last lap.


The next few laps followed the same template as the first. 1 or 2 lads would get away but get brought back on the big climb into the headwind. There were a lot of strong lads riding today and it would take an incredible ride to get away and stay away. I decided to sit in and wait for the last lap.
I looked to find Tom and hatch plan part 2. I was shocked to see he’d gone! I was thinking his attack was hard but he can’t have emptied himself! I was right, he hadn’t been dropped but hit one of the many man size potholes and shifted his front brake into a position whereby he no longer had a front brake. The Old Hutton curse strikes again!
So I was left to fend for myself. Last lap and the pace dropped to a leisurely café ride as everyone prepared themselves for the last climb. If only we still had Tom! Predictably the gas was turned on when we hit the climb for the final time. As we hit the last 500m there were about 15 of us left.

At this point the road kicks up again and a few started the sprint early, I tried to follow but didn’t go all out because I thought it was too early. I was wrong again! The lads who’d gone early held on with Marcus Cram from Blaydon CC taking a fine win. I managed to hang on but lost a few places to cross the line in 10 th place wondering if I could have gone with the group who contested the win. But that’s why these courses are so great, your placing is most likely to be an accurate measure of your
strength on the day.

Thanks so much to Steve Gove and all at Kent Valley CC for putting on this brilliant event, the NEG riders, Commissaires, Accredited marshals and marshals who did an excellent job making us all feel safe throughout the race.

And of course, to Ellen Isherwood who once again has captured the day so brilliantly.

Posted in Blogs