The plan was to follow and not race, just get my mojo back. Then if it went okay I could start riding again.
Hillingdon isn't a techy course, but when wet it can become akin to riding through wattle and daub, a bike breaking combination of London clay and cut dried straw. Today it was wet, but drying which is the worst.
So considering the distance we had to travel and the conditions it was good to see eight LBRCC riders racing. Miles, Kevin and me in V50+. Andrew, Jules and Darren in V40+. And Chris and Ross in the Seniors.
One lap of practice was all I needed, all rideable except one bloody section where the straw had been cut and was lying on the mud. My bike clogged up here, everywhere else it was great. I wasn't the only one V's canti's and Discs all clogging, and yet some weren't plagued at all? I would have to run this section.
I tried something new this time in warm up, and probably made Ross think WTF. Hitting corners as hard as to see how far they could be pushed and easing back to find the limit, seems to work.
So to the start. It was a small field, so being called up didn't count for much. Hillingdon is unique in having a road start so the entire grid is only two rows. A brief chat from the commissairre and we're off. I don't try and move to the front Like I would usually do and the field passes, Miles is already ahead and Kevin soon overtakes. I settle in to follow and hassle. The first lap is going okay. We come to a switchback near the end of the lap and I can see Miles is within striking distance and kevin is a few bike lengths ahead, all of which is very encouraging considering my health..
|Miles and Kevin ahead, so is everyone|
Then! it's the mud and reed section, the bike slows so I shoulder it and run (Pick it up and run) I run though the problem section and then slam the bike down onto the tarmac to go under the flag to complete lap one.
Within yards of lap two Kevin is off the bike and trying to sort out clay induced mechanicals. I go past. I can't see Miles now so I assume he has ridden 'that' section. The bike cleans itself allowing me to press on thank goodness. I think it's somewhere here that Jules passes, I don't recall seeing Andrew. I get on with it, finding some better lines, even overtaking five in one go. I feel so good that when I arrive at the 'problem section' I decide to ride it. BIG MISTAKE, as I leave the deep mud my bike becomes so clogged up it stops sending me over the bars.
The spectators are yelling at me to run, but the wheels have jammed solid, I'm rocking the bike back and forth, slamming it down, but the clay and straw is sticking fast. With hindsight it would have been quicker to take the wheels out. I finally get it moving.....just. I get a shout SIX MINUTES, it didn't seem that long, but I lost count of the people that passed me. Keith comes past just as I'm setting off again.
|alone again, not shit but not good either|
The bike starts to clean itself again. The gong is much better and the mud is drying, those bloody seniors they'll get a much cleaner run. The bell goes in the distance, this is just a three lapper! To make things even better four of the tight switchbacks have gone and now the course runs through in a straight line, those jammy gits that'll follow in the next race.
Just the 'problem section' left. I follow a fast lady, she takes a different line through it. And #### me it's the line I should have taken all race as the bike cleans it. Well you live and learn.
Race over and I'm almost jumping with joy and relief happy to be riding again and with two more rounds to look forward to.
Mile won prize money which we spent on tea and cakes, very Rock N Roll.
Afterwards we watched Chris and Ross go. Standing on the sidelines us oldies where cursing their clean bikes as they came round lap after lap. Bitter?
Well done to all Miles, Kevin, Andrew, Jules, Darren, Chris and Ross, and welcome to possibly our newest and youngest rider, little Miss Darren.