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Aug 29

Tickhill Grand Prix – Heart blowing racing

Hull Thursday Racing Team back in action at the Tickhill Grand Prix in South Yorkshire, just south of Doncaster

After a bit of a gap in the calendar due to a mix of a lack of racing and the remnants of a hurricane (Beeston RC was cancelled mid race due to Hurricane Bertha to clarify), the Hull Thursday Racing Team were back in action at the Tickhill GP on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.

Flat, short, narrow and fast

Tickhill GP was in its second year and had expanded on it’s one race in 2013 to around half a dozen races throughout the day for different categories, all due to the previous years success. The event as a whole was very well run, not quite as good as the Andy Cawley/HTRC led Beverley night circuit races obviously, but it was perhaps the best organised event that I’d participated in with lots of publicity, plenty of crowds and a host of sponsors involved. It even had former pro and Eurosport commentator Matt Stephens doing the commentary. As for the course, which nestled through the heart of the small village of Tickhill, well that was pan flat, short, narrow and inevitably fast – how fast though was something I’d underestimated.

 

Unfortunately we were a man down before we’d even started. Originally on the start list from the team was myself, Will Thomas and Neil Dean. Unfortunately Neil’s injuries from a previous crash were still causing him trouble and he had to withdraw a few days beforehand.

Crash delay

So,that left the two of us and our race was to include 98 other 3rd and 4th category riders originally scheduled to take part around 4pm for 50 minutes. After a brief, yet intense warm-up lap, we lined up under the finishing banner ready for the off. However, we were then held up for a while as there was a crash in the previous event meaning an ambulance had to be deployed on the course to pick the rider up. Not the kind of thing you want to hear before you start a circuit race with 100 riders. All of this though meant that our race was now 40 minutes instead of 50 in order to stay on schedule.

30mph on the straights

After the countdown of 3,2,1 we were off and the pace was incredibly fast. My light build and questionable tactics left me right at the back and struggling to hang on for all I was worth. I took a look down at my computer and realised we were hitting 30mph on the straights. The main issue I had was not so much the straights but the sprints. Every time we came out of a corner it was a full on sprint to keep up and due to the short nature of the course, there wasn’t much chance to shelter in the wheels before you hit another corner followed by another all out sprint. I had to leave any cautiousness at home as braking on the corners was a bad idea. Having not ridden the course I was unsure of where I needed to brake, so when I did as I was just getting gapped. I eventually got into the swing of things and loved the feeling of nearly clipping the barriers as I whizzed through the corners.

In the red

After two laps my heart rate hit 103% of it’s max (turns out I have a new max heart rate to train with!). Not a good sign but I didn’t have time to look down and ease up thinking I might pass out at anytime. It wasn’t just me though that was suffering as other riders were constantly getting dropped but in doing so they left gaps for me and others to close down putting me in the red yet further.

 

Fortunately, on the point of snapping, the pace eased up, just. This allowed me to tuck in a bit move up a few places up to Will’s wheel and recover. It was still an effort to move up so progress was somewhat limited but considering I was on the verge of getting dropped on lap 2, this was an encouraging sign.

Cut up

With just about 10 minutes left and only half the field still in touch, the pace was upped again and one particular rider decided to cut me up on the hairpin straight after the start and finish. Upon the exit of the corner he then realised he didn’t have the legs to close the gap. I was then left to come past him but this time the gap was too big and I wasn’t able to close the gap. I kept the field in contact until the end finishing around 30 seconds behind. Will faired a little better by staying with the group but no points unfortunately.

 

I was a little worried afterwards though that my heart was about to give up. Every breath I took felt like I had a razor blade stuck in my lungs. I was still suffering but upon assessing my ride my average heart rate was a staggering 93%. I’d simply gone too deep!

Big crowds, closed roads

Upon reflection you could ask why I’d entered this particular race, I know I did. As for a climber who can’t sprint this particular type of event is perhaps the worst thing I could do. But it’s not often you get to race in front of hundreds of people on closed roads and the kick you get from that is brilliant. Would I do it again? Maybe, but I definitely need to work on my sprinting before I do.

Confirmed Results

Race name: 3/4 cats

1. Jamie Ridehalgh – Kirklees Cycling Academy – A
2. Ross Lamb – Mansfield RC – 3rd
3. Daniel Stocchero – 3RT – 3rd
4. Alastair Wood – Aire Valley Racing Team – N/A
5. Joseph Elwood – Unattached – 4th
6. Joshua Cutler – 3RT – 2nd
7. Jonathan Harvey – Dinnington Racing Club – 4th
8. Liam O’Toole – Sheffrec CC – 3rd
9. Chad Markland – Hinckley Cycle Racing Club – N/A
10. Calum Lawson – Dinnington Racing Club – 3rd

 

Mark Walker
HTRC Road Race Secretary