Robin Parker writes…
11th August LVRC Kingsnorth RR ABCD Cat. 60 miles.
Another sunny morning, another LVRC race – this time around the Hatfield Heath circuit in Essex . 6 laps of a 10 mile mostly flat circuit. The only incline of note came with about a kilometre to go, levelling off with about 500m to the finish line.
The race started fairly steadily and the early moves were all nullified. On the 3rd lap, a number of guys escaped from the bunch. There followed a fairly lively pursuit which at one point brought the bunch to within about 10 seconds of the break. I decided that I would wait until the incline prior to the finish to bridge up. Unfortunately the bunch eased off the gas significantly over the last mile or two before the finish, meaning that the break pulled away out of sight – bridging up was not going to be easy!
I attacked at the bottom of the incline taking Bob Downs and Malcolm Jeffries with me. We worked well together and quickly closed to about 15 seconds on the break of 6 riders. But then the gap just didn’t appear to be closing and as the lactate accumulation caught up with me I faded from pulling strong turns to seriously wondering if I was going to even to be able to hold the wheels. Luckily after a few missed turns I recovered enough to be able to contribute a few more turns and with the other two guys piling on the pressure we finally made it up to the break. We took a bit of a breather (it’s amazing how much harder it is trying to bridge across compared to resting on the back of a break!) and then started working with the now 9 man break.
At this point I discovered that there were 2 further riders a minute or so up the road. Fair play to them. We rolled through an off at a reasonable lick (not full gas but we were moving quite nicely) and we barely made any impression on them. By the last lap it was pretty obvious that we weren’t going to catch them and I started to think about the finish.
With 500m or so of mostly head wind over the top of the last little incline, I figured that it would be best to wait for someone to try for a long burst for home, follow their move, leave them out to dry and then take them in the sprint. It was a good plan…
So rolling round to the finish I was playing close attention at the front. When one of the riders rolled off the front over a little kick with maybe 1.5Km to go I instinctively followed. When I looked back I saw we had a gap. I knew that it was a bit early but pushed on down the short decent and we still had a gap as the road kicked up at the 1km to go board. At this point I could either wait and see if anyone made a move and risk them coming over the top at speed; or I could press on. I elected to press on and force the pace up the incline.
Just over the top of the rise I could sense that I had company. When I looked back, there was Bob Downs, right on my wheel. There was another rider trying to come across and the rest of the break fighting for wheels back down the road. I eased a little and flicked my elbow in the forlorn hope that Bob might come through. But he’s much too smart for that – and he hung me out to dry in exactly the same way that I had hoped to do to someone else! I had no choice but to press on to avoid being caught by other riders closing fast.
Sure enough, we reached the yellow flag and bang, Bob launched his sprint to take 3rd while I could barely get out of the saddle to hang on for 4thplace (as consolation, 1st B Cat). Next time I figure out a good plan, I must remember to take the role of the guy that finishes it off and not the role of the one who gets hung out to dry!