Monday, 5 October 2015

LBRCC Race Experience Day

How is today going to pan out? I must admit I'm a tad concerned and have to ask a youngster if one still calls 999 to get peeled off the tarmac. I'm talking about the long awaited LBRCC race experience day. A day for those that have never pined on a number to have a go. A brainchild of the committee and delegated to Neil Green to sort out, That's delegate spelt D U M P. Also cunningly dumped upon Neil to sort whilst the rest of us are on holiday, so the day before we ask each other what we're doing?
Then I realize who we have on board to help on the day. Dave Brown, resident MK Bowl race winner.  Then the new generation Tom Duprez,  Andrew Martin and Dave Allan all well respected racers earning their spurs the hard way and not through half hour point grabbers. The old guard Miles Walker with whom I raced  here back in the early nineties and myself a winner here back in 2013. And of course Mr Green our latest MK Bowl Vainqueur.
So with these guys it wasn't far off one on one, phew. And on top of that it dawned a bright and sunny day. A little look up and a thank you God.
So here we are, about 23 of us plus Ash on photographic duties. And a host of riders families. Oh and an out of action Chris Wren waving flags and countdown numbers.

To get things rolling we literally get rolling. Off anti-clockwise we roll down the hill! along the flat and around the ever so slight dog leg to go up again and repeat.  We do this again stopping this time to point out the dangers of sloppy riding at speed on the corners and how best to tackle them. Then up the drag, pulling over we explain how attacks will often come here, maybe one two three on the bounce. We go around again letting it sink in.
This time when we stop Tom takes us through a few do's and don't's when it comes to pedaling (or not) and getting out of the saddle, or rather the chaos it can cause.
I then rattle out a few basic tips, painfully aware that Dave Brown is listening with a good decades worth more experience than me. So guys, if your bike plays up don't look down and don't faff while you're racing. Don't keep looking at your Garmin. Remove and replace your bottle without looking down, keep it's lid open ready to sip in the split seconds you'll get and no sudden braking.
Basics done, one on one time now
Next we peel off into groups of seven for  multiple laps and Q&A time with the racers. We set off gradually upping the pace. Here it's just like a club run, but intensified a hundred times. We start to see how every little thing you do or don't do has a positive or negative effect. Like grabbing a wheel or not means staying in the race or not.  What it feels like to move out into the wind. How to corner without scaring the group to death. When to brake. When to change gear. How to get out of the saddle without throwing the bike back. And just about every little thing that makes you a good rider.
See me, when I were a lad being a good and respected rider was more important than being a fast one. Okay be fast, but be good first and foremost. I remember being told how to sit in the saddle, how to hold the bars depending how we were riding, position vision and pace were all taught. More art than stats.
However I must say I was impressed by the general standard of riding, I'd be happy to sit in with any of the guys. And after explaining that they didn't have to shout and point at everything as done on club runs. And failing to explain when friend becomes foe during a race we were ready to go.
One last briefing to explain the race duration, the laps to go, the bell and the flag. And asking them all to look out for each other I sent them off. Thirty minutes and five laps.
Dave Brown and myself slowly wind things up, not the usual race day 25 to 36MPH though. I warned them I'd bark instructions so when Mitchell has a pop I point furiously at his back wheel, it falls upon Steve to grab the wheel which he does and I slot back in behind him. This is how it goes. We pull off some playful attacks, but this starts to break things up so Andrew and Myself ease off to gather in those stranded out there alone. We form little groups, races within a race. Up ahead Tom, Dave B and Dave A put the stronger riders to the test.
They're out of sight. Myself and CPF tap out the last few laps, both picking up riders and dropping them at the same time. The bell sounds and there's one last push. Then pain gives way to smiles it's over.
The day has passed without incident. Everyone has learnt something that'll prove invaluable on club runs and that's made me very very happy. I hope some do go onto race. I know that the following week Mitchell pinned on a number and raced seniors at the RAF Halton cyclocross. Steve Judd raced novices at the same event. 
I'd recommend a day like this to any club, and I'd like to see it rolled out to more members of all abilities.
Thanks Neil. cheers for the support from the families and Ashley for the great images.
Grand Master Dave Brown and Master Dave Allan 
Andrew Martin giving away trade secrets

Grandad being playful
Neil (handsome Neil) Green 

Tom (Leighton Loco) Duprez


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