Race report by Tony Lowe
Sunday 26th March 2017
The event consisted of a 2.1 mile individual time trial on Swynnerton Road followed by a road race stage within Swynnerton Army Camp. The format was on placings with the winner of each event getting 1 point, 2nd place getting 2 points etc. So after the two stages the rider with the least points was the winner. There were two races, Under 45’s and over 45’s. ASL had 5 entrants in the event, Ben Dobson and Mike Humphreys in the youngster’s race and in the oldies race was myself, Graham Balshaw and Neil Higgins.
On the day we were presented with a glorious sunny day, with an easterly wind which looking at the TT course should have been favourable and along with a slight downhill we were expecting some rapid times. I set off from the time keeper and with it being such a short race it would have to be an all-out effort and every second would count. After a short distance I descended the small hill and got up to 36 mph followed by a stretch where we hit a side wind and it was all about keeping the speed going. I was trying to keep it up and around 30, the wind-assisted in the second half and then I saw a marker 200m to go and then there was a slight rise in the road and the finish line was crossed.
Mike – 4.21. Graham – 4.25. Tony – 4.27. Neil – 4.31. Ben – 4.35. Fastest was an incredible 3.59.
After a visit for a brew at the HQ we rode over to the Army camp and the gates were unlocked. We had a quick race briefing in the sun and then a group warm up lap so we could at last see we had in store.
It was mainly flat with long straights and quite a few corners which could be taken at speed. Each lap was 2 ½ miles long. We were looking at roughly 90 mins racing.
We the lined up at the start with a group of about 40 riders, then we were told it would be a handicap race. Graham and Neil’s group were given a 2 min start before the rest of us started. Seemed strange as the event was already split into the two categories anyway.
My group started and it wasn’t as furious as I thought it would be, but with having 2 team mates up the road I was just sitting in. In Graham/Neil’s group a break went on the third lap with Graham, Nick Giles and Steve Davies and they soon got a good advantage.
We caught Neil’s group on the 5th lap and Iggy told me that Graham was up the road. By this time Graham’s break had over a minute on the now enlarged peloton and they were still out of sight even with the long straights. About 2/3 of way through I had a couple of goes getting away from the bunch and at most got about 100 metres but no one joined me.
The hardest part of the circuit was the long finishing straight into the direct head wind so everyone was taking shelter along there. With three laps to go 2 riders pulled away. Mike Twelves and a female rider who had been super strong all race. They were soon joined by the main players and it was god to see Iggy jump on as well and it made a group of seven.
They soon pulled out a significant advantage as no one was willing to chase, I definitely wasn’t going to. Once they had a sizeable gap I had another few goes but was reeled in and on the finishing straight there was two of us fighting into the wind only to be caught on the line by another three. Graham’s group had stayed away and he sprinted for 2nd place, they had a 40s advantage over Iggy’s group. My group finished 2 minutes down on Graham,
Road stage results Graham 2nd, Neil 9th and I was 13th.
As we finished, the under 45’s were about to start. Mike and Ben were in this race and it was set at a faster pace than our race with lots of attacking and a group of seven main players getting away. Mike had to pack after about 10 laps still having the effects of a recent virus.
Ben completed the race and sprinted in the main bunch to finish around 25th place.
Back at the HQ, Graham was chuffed with his 2nd place on stage 2 and then found out that he was the actual winner of the ‘D’ cat riders and 4th place overall. I the found out I had got 3rd place overall in the ‘C’ cat riders. It was a good day’s racing and it was a fantastic event which was well organised. This is the first TLI event I have done and have to say the even was more relaxed and didn’t have the same over the top organised scrutiny like BC events.
Well done to the organiser Martin Harney, Manchester BC and Wills Wheels for a tremendous event.