Joining me in the over 50's was Andy Barrett. It had been nearly twenty years since Andy and myself lined up to race together, though for different and opposing clubs. And in the over 40's Tim Edwins and racing virgin Simon Woolhead.
They set the over 40's off first, then unleashed the 'oldgits'. It was a very steady start so I moved up near the front, just in case. After a just a few laps a solo break went....was he that good or just mad? Two of us decided to reel it in anyway. That left me gasping on the front with no one willing to come through, I was very worried that I was about to be passed and blown out the back. That didn't happen, even after weaving from side to side trying to force another rider to come through nothing happened. Eventually I rode head on for the barriers and that forced a change. Luck was with me, the pace didn't go up too much and my legs recovered.
We then got a countdown to the moment they extend the circuit out through the gates. And it was here that we had problems. Somehow we had caught the earlier 40's race and the commissaire told us to back off. The rider in front replied with a justified 'BOLLOCKS' however rules are rules, so back off we did. This gave all the stragglers a chance to get back on, it felt like twenty minutes of racing wasted! Then a few riders made a jump in the chaos. If I had managed to go with them it would have been a good move, but I was caught out so it became a bit of a snide move in my eyes!
The race was now in the very very tight twists and turns, right away I felt more at home. Years of racing cyclo cross and mountain bikes really tweaks your skills here.
Any way I was now in the chasing bunch racing for honours. At first we were small in numbers, with some inexperienced racers. But we got some communications going and our group became well drilled and slowly we swallowed up more riders which in turn upped the momentum.
It was clear that I was the quickest through the series of tight turns, so I made sure I was never off the first three in the bunch. At the bell lap I went through on the head of the bunch, not ideal. I was then passed by a rider going flat out, but managed to get his wheel. He should have sat up, but he carried on to the turns like some paid up lead out man. Five tight turns in quick succession and I was on the front with the finish line in front of me. It called for an out of the saddle sprint to be certain of taking honours. Fifty metres to go and I see a wheel out of the corner of my eye, a quick flick of the SRAM and an almighty push and I grab the bunch sprint.
Okay not a win, but 7th overall and a lesson to never ease off no matter what...ever.
Tim claimed an impressive 2nd in his age group. And Simon gained knowledge but no placing.
I was back at the Bowl two days later to marshal the MKCA 4th cats race that Rob Nelson and Andrew Martin were racing in. Sadly the sunny conditions had been replaced by gale force winds and rain. The race was kept to the inner circuit for forty minutes on safety grounds.
It was clear from the gun that Rob was in for this, and that for Andrew it was going to be a very tight learning curve. Rob upped the pace almost straight away, but once his turn was over the pace settled, no one was going to let anyone out of each others sight, this race was for important points. The race kept together as one tight bunch until the dying minutes when a strong looking pair went off the front.
The pair looked like they had it, but didn't seem to be working together. And when the bell lap came it was all one again. Only a brave man was going to go for it, so when the flag came it was a last minute sprint. Rob had a good line to do it, but perhaps a metre or two off the leader, but with a clear line managed to sprint over the line into 4th and get what he came here for....points.
A big well done to Andrew for sticking with it and abiding by rules number 5 and 9. (please refer to the Velominati - 'The Rules')
The season is truly underway.
|A virgin in green....not for long matey!|