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TLI National Criterium Championships – promoted by Graham Weigh

18th May. TLI National Criterium Championships – promoted by Graham Weigh. 1 hour + 5laps.

Robin Parker writes…

Veterans cycling is a little like boxing, in that there are more that “board of control” that organise championships. Both the LVRC and the TLI (The League International) promote age category racing nationwide, but TLI seems to be stronger in the North of the country and the LVRC in the South. But both promote national Road Race and Criterium championships open to all – well, all wrinklies that is Smile.

The first championship of 2013 was the TLI Crit champs at the March Tracks circuit in Rhyl (North Wales). I raced the LVRC Crit Champs here last year finishing 5th and was hoping for a better result this time around. I drove up on Friday, giving myself enough time for a ride to loosen the drive out of my legs before putting my feet up for the evening. Luxury Smile

Marsh tracks is completely flat and being close to the coast, incredibly windswept with a vicious block headwind howling down the finishing straight. The temperature gauge in the car said 11C but it felt a lot colder than that, with most riders (including “nancy southerners” such as myself!) opting for overshoes and long fingered gloves.

With a relatively small field, the A (40-45 year olds – given yellow numbers) and B (45-50 year olds – given white numbers) categories raced together – but prizes were to be awarded separately. Ordinarily I race to race, and don’t worry about categories until after the finish. But this was a championship and  so today I was taking note!

I was attentive to the early skirmishes. There was a large contingent of Liverpool Mercury riders who seemed intent on blocking when one of their riders escaped. Unfortunately they weren’t as intent on chasing when a lone rider and then couple of other riders (all A cats and hence of less interest to me) escaped and built a short lead. The next move of significance was the escape of a lone B cat.

I missed it and I didn’t close it down quickly enough. It didn’t look too dangerous as he wasn’t making much ground and that wind was really hard out there on your own. The chase from the bunch was very fractured and somewhat half hearted and we just weren’t making ground. After a few laps, the lone B joined with the two A cats and they pulled out a little more time. I don’t think that it was ever more than maybe 20 or 30 seconds or so. But we just never made any inroads into the lead.

As the end of the hours racing neared I tried to escape what remained of the bunch in the hope that alone and committed I might bridge across. After a couple of abortive attempts, “the bunch” that had again dragged me back was down to about half a dozen with the remaining riders strewn around the circuit.

Finally with about 4 laps to go I managed to escape and put a decent gap between me and my pursuers. But try as I might, I couldn’t make more than a small dent in the gap to that front B cat rider.

So that’s how it finished. On my own (which is a first this year) and 2nd B cat rider. Close, but no cigar – and more significantly, no national championship jersey! Still, I do have a nice TLI silver medal for my troubles. And the LVRC National Crit champs on 16th June to look forward to!