We arrived in good time to face pretty mild conditions. We registered early and set off for a recce lap. The course was extremely tight and the tarmac runway section was taped off and the race took it's leafy verge instead. A warm up lap really was a warm up lap. It required some very good bike handling and several 'pick it up and run' sections. Including a total of five railway sleepers. We rode back to the race HQ and promptly removed thermals as we were sweating buckets. Once changed we went out to start the race. The commissaire kindly let us dwell in the sun as he called up riders by name to the start line. It was a good job Stuart wasn't there as he seemed to miss a page as neither he or myself were called up, but Rob and Craig were?
I ushered Jools up and we huddled in with the Trisport lads. We were to set off with all the ungridded riders. We get thirty seconds, then boom we're off. We tear down the one lap only tarmac and push to gain places before it goes off road. Keith, my nemesis is blocked by a slower starter and I'm forced in front of him. Good you say, but after last week I want to peg him rather than worry about him tearing past. At the first switchback I see that Jools is okay and sitting in not far behind. I need to beat Keith and I didn't want the new boy to beat the chairman on his first outing so I felt a little pressure.
For the first two laps I'm ahead, but can feel them both bearing down on me and I start to cock up the corners. Halfway through lap three I slip on an uphill turn and struggle to keep my balance. I loose my mojo after this and barge my way around the rest of the lap. The pair of them close right in. I remember this is a race and know I have to do something. There is a Trisports rider up ahead. He overtook me early on but hadn't made much ground. I decide to peg him until we hit the next flat section. When we do I gear down and push past him. I push hard round the next corner and along the return straight. It goes well and I create space. Now I can see Jools coming up. I can't let the interloper beat me. The gap I have shouldn't be breached, but I've never raced with Jools. I concentrate hard to complete the penultimate lap, then I get the bell.
Pain on the last lap is always bearable, so I dig in, I should be able to hold this. I look over my shoulder and see that I've made ground on Jools, but looking over my shoulder nearly cost me as I lost control and took a painful detour through the shrubbery. Then on the out and back section I could see I had the gap made, and only needed to clean the lap to stay ahead. I get round and get my flag. A marshal ushers me under the tape and I brake to a stop to await Jools and my Trisport foes.
|Jools rocking the look|
|Chairman looking for rocks|
I get some good news when the results are published. As I've moved up to best placed overall LBRCC rider just ahead of Stuart in both overall league points, and points from the six counting rounds. Also the best placed club vet. And in with a chance of making it into the top three V50 overall riders with just one race remaining. This I put down to being very ill for my first three races as I've earned twice as many points in my last three races. The guy I've been having a race with all season is on exactly the same amount of points as me it's that close. The final round will be a real ding dong.