Round 7 saw near perfect winter sun and light wind. Kit selection was long socks (because I couldn’t find the leg warmers) and bling wheels (because the regular wheels were embarrassingly dirty from Tuesday’s puddle-fest). The weather brought new racers, with a full complement of 60 entrants and 20 on the waiting list!
TCC fielded four riders; myself, Tim, Steve and Elwyn. Our plan is to mix things up, attack a bit and see if we can get Tim four points. A big turnout from the Wheelers and another even more impressive field of Dynamos. An unscheduled wheel change due to a puncture on Hayes’s roads on the ride in meant that I have already had my mechanical. About 10 first-time racers including a rider next to me on a fine carbon bike with Zipp 808s. There is almost no wind today.
Race sets off at a truly pedestrian pace. Lap two and Steve and Tim have had enough and are off the front with a couple of Agents and another rider. I sprint through Brian’s Bends to take up the front of the chase out of the climb and slow for the bend to help them get away. For a few laps. The peloton get restless and start a chase and I drop back through the bunch. This peloton will be chasing down anything that looks like a hint of a break. Lap 12 and I attack from the back of the group straight through and onto the front. Steve grabs my wheel and we take up the pace down the straight to get away. Dynamos follow with a counter attack on the outside and I call Steve to bridge to their group as I ease up to block the catching field. Well it looked good and they stay away for about a lap or two. Another break and Steve is off again. This time he’s out on his own and the peloton are leaving him out there. But to no avail.
(Courtesy of AEphotos, all rights reserved)
Five laps called and Elwyn, fed up with being boxed in, comes from the back onto the front of the bunch down the main straight. I take the placebo-enhanced gel and two laps later am making the same manoeuvre. Agents are massing at the front, pushing up. I take a lap to recover from my lap on the front but am feeling pretty good. The bell sounds and Sam from the Wheelers attacks for a brave breakaway down the straight with another rider, but the pace rises and we catch them at the bends. Into a final sprint and I pass a couple of riders but am edged left by a rider who can’t sprint in a straight line. Nowhere to go, I cross the line onto the grass stopping before I hit the photographer (No pictures, sadly).
It’s a very close finish with no immediate results. Now posted, I’m 11th. First loser. Tim is close behind in my 14th position of last week (with a slow puncture), and Steve and Elwyn in the close-following bunch. No points this week for TCC, but at least we did mix it up a bit, attacked and were mentioned in despatches again. Some great photos too. A thoroughly pleasant afternoon.
Places are still available for some of the remaining four races. Entry via RiderHQ. If you fancy something less claustrophobic than Hillingdon, the Surrey League kicks off on February 8th at the Longcross test track with a beginners race, and a second race the week after. This is a longer, wider course with a modest hill and a downhill with sharp left hand turn and (very) long sprinting straight. I hope to enter the second race here. Feel free to join in. This is rightly popular, one you’ve cycled past on every Saturday ride. It was one of my favourite races last year.