Just two days after bumping around Rutland dirt, I was back in action on Tuesday night at the first Chevin Series road race. It runs with a handicap format with the slowest category riders leaving first and respective categories being allowed to chase after minute long intervals. After tapering for the Cicle Classic, my legs were still feeling fairly fresh. As a second cat. rider, I was in the second last group on the road and as such worked well with the other 2nd’s to catch the leading two groups- the last with only half a lap to go. I was surprised to have made it this far without being caught by our own chasing group but I didn’t look back as we came into the finish. I was second wheel behind fellow student Ben Gibson (Clifton CC) as we made the final turn and he took off with a ferocity that left me fighting to hold the wheel in front of me. As he pulled off after a few 100ms, the line was very distant but I attempted to kick off the high pace. Given the previous sprint finishes this season, I was not optimistic but only a handful of riders managed to edge in front of me as I agonisingly tried to hold the effort and speed. I finished 6th.
Enjoying the sunset at the back of the 2nd cat. group with Ed Giles (Team Vision Innovative Leisure).
The next weekend I was back on the road, this time to Holland to ride an interclub, the Wim Hendriks Trofee with the team. We travelled over on the Saturday and picked up Ben Foams and Joe Sutton, full time riders in Belgium supported by the Dave Rayner Fund. After a short course recce, we stayed the night in Sint-Niklaas in East Flanders. We were racing in Holland but as the race started in Axel just a stones-throw from the Belgian border, it was easiest to stay in Belgium for the night and by evening Jason (the team DS and manager) had definitely earned a Belgian beer or two!
The next morning, the six TBW lads demolished the hotel buffet breakfast before heading over to Axel. It was a very Dutch windy day and warming up I was dazzled by the reflection of the sun in some shiny gold shoes belonging to a rider from the Lotto-Jumbo development squad.
After a crash in the neutralised section, the flag was dropped and three hours of gutter action began. The race was constantly strung out in the wind, broken only by various cobbled sectors which killed the speed of the race as we bounced over the stones. At one point when hammering down a tailwind straight, a Dutch rider punched a rider from Richardson’s Trek (the only other UK team riding), taking him down only a couple of wheels ahead of myself. I saw him go down when swerving to avoid his bike and body I glimpsed the reflective lenses on his sunglasses in the middle of the road.
Taking a bottle in Holland
Unfortunately I was pulled at the finishing circuit with Ben, as the group we were in hadn’t made the time cut. This was frustrating as I we were the last group to be pulled out. However we pulled over to watch Joe racing the last few miles with the other 30-odd riders who would eventually finish. A great ride; the only rider from the team who finished. I was still pleased with my performance though, it was a strong field and a tough race. More to the point, I’d absolutely loved it. I’d been growing a bit disgruntled with racing after the prems and Rutland but this road trip with the team cheered me no-end.
This page has some short video highlights of the race if you want to get a feel for it….