Very very windy but dry; four TCC riders (me, Elwyn, Steve and Richard); five in a break that held, none from TCC. All four finished in top 16.
Final race in this excellent series. Wind was impressively strong down the by-pass straight. Just right for my 50mm Giant aero wheels (broke the Kysrium for a second time last week). Steven Morgan still under the weather, Elwyn Powel, Richard Aderson and myself (plus new member Steven Pellowe still racing for Hounslow) lined up with the now very familiar faces and a few not so familiar first timers.
Start was pedestrian, so second lap I went for a break with a couple of other riders. We stayed away for a few laps but were brought back. Encouraging signs of working together, until the straight, where the headwind leveled efforts. The wheels helped upwind and the wind pushed downwind. A crash on Brian’s Bends, probably due to the side winds pushing riders off line, but the rider remounted. A few more breaks and I’m still there or there abouts whilst the other three take some shelter. Some time to recover but I know I’m working harder than I should be.
Another crash on the straight – again wind assisted, but avoidance is possible. Four get away, includung a Dynamo as other Agents block on the front. I try to go after them, hoping the block will hold but the peloton won’t have it. Pearson ask if I want to go again, but I’m needing recovery more than glory! He rides off and makes the bridge to the front and I sit top ten in the pack for the rest. Five laps to go and I take a gel and position well. TCC push up and Elwyn takes to the front looking strong. Pace rises and there is almost another big split. Riders fall back or drop out. Two laps to go and I’m looking for a tow from a young Velosport rider who I know is very strong. Final lap and I’m on the front taking the wind (again), but saving something for a sprint. TCC again push up the wind-assisted incline and we head through the very windy double bends for a last time and into a headwind-speed-sapping sprint. All four of us are top 15 in the pack (so top 20 overall). Dropping gears I pass two riders for the sprint, whilst the other three are better placed. Steve gives his all for first in the bunch pushing past an Agent, Elwyn is in the points and I think Richard may be (un)lucky eleventh this week. I’m 16th overall. I break it to Steve that he was in fact not first, but sixth overall. He takes it well.
This has been a great series and it has been as competitive as it has been well-ridden. A few minor crashes, a major mechanical, TCC have taken top places (a win and a second), and have always been in the points. We’ve had twelve riders enter the Cat4 series with many first-time racers who are acquitting themselves well. After the race, I say thank you to Lucy and Imperial Racing on behalf of the Cat4s by presenting her with a framed print of the peloton (courtesy of Antony Edmonds Photography), and at the final ceromony the Cat4 racing is again commended as one of the series hilights.
So what’s next? Longcross for the Surrey League, or The London Bike show if you are quick next weekend. There are also races at various destinations across the South and South East, including Brighton and Gravesend. One road race on my radar is the Roy Thame (E12) and Spring Chicken (3/4) on March 8th. The Spring Chicken has a maximum team size of four and it is an early start. The Roy Thame is in the afternoon. It would be nice for us to have a team entry. This is the day before the Surrey Rumble, so a good opportunity to get your excuses in and volunteer rather than ride on the Sunday!
Finally, well done to James Bradley today, second place in the Cat3 race and, as Graham mentioned, the highest placed Cat3 in the Winter series. It has been a pleasure to watch him do so well this season. One more point for Cat2.