South West Regional Champs
My 2018 campaign is drawing to its conclusion and I’ve managed to carry some decent form over the last few weeks with top 5 finishes in 9 races including 4 wins.
The last two weekends have seen the two SW Regional championships, the first being the road title fought out over 90 hilly – and it turned out wet and windy – miles and then the circuit race champs over 30 flat miles at the Velopark.
The road champs weren’t going to suit me – I hadn’t ridden a road race for nearly 2 years and the ten hours a week training I do per week can’t prepare you for races of close to 100 miles against younger and often full time riders. I managed to make the chasing group and finish 15th which I was pretty pleased with.
The Circuit or ‘crit’ champs were far better suited for me and I hoped a top-ten finish was a realistic aim with the form I had. My preparation for the race wasn’t ideal, the race was originally scheduled two weeks earlier but was postponed due to bad weather, and the rescheduled race clashed with the Junior Tour of Wales were I was helping to manage the junior team. A quick dash back saw me arrive home 80 minutes before the race start which gave me time to ride over to the Velopark as a warm up.
The race had attracted a good quality field with a mix of elite and first cat riders with second cat’s making up the remainder of the field.
Fred Shescke of a Team Tor was the favourite but with another 4 of his team mates capable of winning his whole squad were dangerous. Elite rider Lee Frost (Tri UK) had finished top three in the road champs so was on form and his team mate, elite rider George Smith, was a big threat too.
I decided my tactic would be to try to keep my powder dry for 20 minutes and then try to bridge to any breaks which included Fred Shieske.
His team mate Charlie Revell went clear after ten and at around 20 minutes a counter move formed including Fred, his team mate Josh Croxton and Lee Frost – they quickly had fifteen seconds and I realised this was a move that had to be closed down. I jumped hard and did the next half a lap on the front and when I swing over the rider behind me shook his head – I had to make a split second decision, drive on and risk being ‘jumped’ or sit up and risk the move going away if the rider behind was not bluffing. The legs felt good so I decided to push on, continuing until the junction was made to ensure I wasn’t countered. It took a lap and a half and by the end I was seriously deep into the red. On checking Strava later I found I’d ridden the second fastest recorded lap of the circuit – impressive when you consider who has raced on there.
Once the junction was made a group was formed of 8 experienced riders and we started riding strongly through and off and within a few laps we’d stretched the lead out and caught the solo rider. After that it was a question of covering moves. Team Tor we’re particularly dangerous as if one of them attacked the team mates were entitled not to chase but were likely to counter attack if the gap was closed. In the closing stages I made a point of covering attacks by Croxton and Shieske leaving it to Team Tor to cover the Tri UK attacks of Smith and Frost. I had a dig myself at three to go, but it seemed destined for a sprint.
I managed to get myself onto James Williams wheel on the last lap, but had to fight to keep it at other riders wanted to force their way into the third place slot I’d taken. Lee Frost led out from the penultimate corner with the riders making their efforts down the penultimate straight. Williams passed Frost on the penultimate corner and whilst I was able to follow his wheel, he was simply too fast for me and my efforts were focussed on holding off Fred Shieske who came up very fast and I just managed to hold on for second place.
The stat’s looked pretty good at 26.5 mph for 1 hr ten mins and 37.5 mph in the final sprint. I was very pleased to take a silver medal at 47 years of age – whilst I’d finished 5th in the road champs in 2012 – my last regional champs medal was a gold all the way back in 1989!
I learned afterwards that Juliet Elliott had also taken a silver in the woman’s champs and we’d secured a good number of medals across the various youth categories, so all in, a very good day for the club!