Road racers can seem very simple to a spectator standing on the side of the road; they don’t see the mad last minute panic to make it to the start line, and with the bunch out of site for much of the race it’s often difficult to divine the internal struggles that can decide a race. In a new series of features we let the riders tell the race in their own words. This week Michael Ashurst and Nicky Shaw give you their account of the first round of the CDNW series from Pimbo:
The season well and truly started this weekend with the first installment of the CDNW racing league, a nice trip to sunny pimbo.
Having finished 14th last weekend at my first race of the 2013 season at the Clayton Velo Spring Classic, I had quite high expectations for myself as my legs are good at the moment due to the fact i started training early October. However, my performance was hindered by a stomach bug which I picked up early in the week and only managed to shake off on Friday night.
As the race kicked off at the ‘scenic’ Pimbo east industrial estate activity, in the bunch the pace was high as expected. There was a flurry of attack as ambitious riders trying to get in one of those cheeky “stay away all day” breaks. All failed, until mid way through the race when one finally stuck. My tactics were simple; follow any of the pro-continental riders from the likes of Raleigh GAC, Rapha Condor JLT and more importantly Pete Williams of Sigma Sport, who won the first hand full of the 2012 cdnws!
As the race went on I could feel I wasn’t firing on all cylinders and felt like I lacked any energy due to not eating all week with that damn stomach bug. Still, my tactics seemed to work perfectly when I followed the wheel of Pete Williams and another hand full of riders in their attack in the second half of the race. I found myself in a position which I’d pay for. A group of 20+ strong riders all wanting to get across to the group of 13 riders who were approx 2 and a half minutes up the road. We worked hard and smooth for a few laps getting the gap down to 1:30 in a matter of laps, the bike come up side of us and shouted 1:15, then 1:05. Shortly after 1 minute, i though this is doable. Then as the gap got to below 1 minute, riders in the group started to play silly games and do a great job of sitting on not sharing the work, it became fast slow fast slow and anything but smooth.
There were a few riders in the group who would take a turn to pull on the front then sit on for a lap. This angered the workers of the group and we managed to somehow get the gap to 40 seconds! We could see the group up the road, they were in touching distance if everyone would have worked we would have got them back in that lap which was 2 to go. Unfortunately the messing around continued until Pete Williams attacked with James Gullen of Team Hope on his wheel. At that point I lost my temper and screamed at top note “so you’re guna let Pete Williams and Gullen just ride away from us?!” Nobody responded and the continued to be lazy.
You’d expect that sort of stuff in the regional b races but not a national b!… I tried to attack across the start finish onto the bell lap with 2 other riders, we could see Pete and Gullen who were no more than 10 seconds ahead and the lead group who were around a minute in the finishing straight! My efforts to get across failed with half a lap to go. On the last corner I gave it full gas and attacked up the finishing straight which, take it from me, is a long bloody way! Longer than I though and I just got pipped to the line by a lone rider, meaning I finished 15th… Again!
Once again Biketreks Racing Academy put up a good all round team performance with James coming in 30th in the bunch sprint, whilst Jonny Cregeen, Jake Cowen, Gary Spencely and Tom Bracegirdle were also riding well and finished inside the top 50.
Next stop CDNW Saighton…Looking back at the race I’m happy with my performance under the circumstances, and I think I raced a perfect race if it was not for all those riders being lazy!
Today has seen a giant leap forward in the promotion of road races available for Women, with around half of the 34 starters taking part in their first ever road race – round 1 of the CNDW RR league. The race was declared a success for the Biketreks squad, with four riders making it to the bunch sprint finish and placing in the top 20 finishers.
The flat course and slight wind meant that it was unlikely that any attempted breaks would stay away, so the tactic was to conserve energy and accustom ourselves to bunch riding and positioning. Riding on the shiny new Moda (for pretty much the 1st time), my main concern was to stay out of trouble and remind my hands that Sram actually works differently to Campag… talk about learning on the job!
The main thing I take from today it that preparation is as important as the race itself. Despite setting off in good time, making it the start line seemed to be the most stressful part. Once negotiating the one way system and ‘enjoying’ a tour of Pimbo, I finally located the HQ, grabbed my numbers and ran back to my car. A miracle appeared in the form of Fred (Heather’s other half), and together we managed to get me to the start line on time, with helmet on right way around…remarkably. A massive thanks to Fred for his support! – and my rear end is equally thankful in that we even managed to swap my saddle for one that wouldn’t cause pain and/or cursing during the race.
Most of the Biketreks women squad look forward to their second outing to Rhyl next Saturday at the Race to the Spring series, with Lizzie deciding to get some TT practice in Manchester. With only four entries in total, it looks like a good opportunity for some team training and easy points. Let’s hope the race lives up to its name, and that we aren’t actually greeted with snow and numb arms at the end of the race this time…