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Jul 05

2015 Road Race League Rounds 1 and 2: A View From The Back

Hi. I’m Mike McAllister and the following is an account of my first ever attempt at road racing.

 

I’m just about hanging on to my forties and upped my game in road cycling around three or four years ago after I sold an old Dynatech (Raleigh) Aspin road bike I had hanging on the shed wall for several years (it was too big). As soon as I sold the bike I regretted it and had to get another bike as soon as possible.
I bought myself a Ribble winter bike, did the Big G a few times, then a few TTs and then an email dropped into my inbox about Mark Walker’s winter training rides. Two of Mark’s winter training sessions, and a course of Jim Sampson’s winter training, and here I am, road racing for the very first time!

EYRRL Round 1 – Sproatley

I was marshalling this race and enjoyed the company of Danny Posnett for the evening. We enjoyed a very sunny night and witnessed some high speed racing. Happily we both got 5 EYRRL points in the bag, without even breaking a sweat, easy peasy this EYRRL, bring on the racing…

EYRRL Round 2 – EYRR Walkington

Preparation

I’d done a steady 30 mile ride a couple of nights before the race. On the day of the race I scoffed a bag of microwave rice a few hours before showtime. I ate an energy bar en route to the race whilst cycling and thoughts crossed my mind of what nightmare I might have let myself in for. I’d had some advice off a few people (one a former Yorkshire TT champ) who advised to get on the back of Group 2 when they come steaming through and sit at the back if you need to until you get up to speed.

Race Day

My head had been full of worries in the days before the race, how much to eat, what to wear, how much riding to do, over-training (not much chance of that), under training (a higher chance), what to drink… At some point you’ve got to take the plunge, so here I was, signing on for the first time and collecting my race number. My number for the season was to be 18, no turning back now.

I got chatting to Craig Boddice, local mobile bike mechanic supremo repair2ride.co.uk who I’d met whilst watching Cycle Speedway a couple of years earlier. Craig had finished top 20 at Sproatley and offered to show me the ropes. What a good lad. I was looking forward to pipping him on the finish line and spraying him with the Champagne!

I was in Group 1 when we set off, I was still at the front, what the heck was I doing at the front? The group set off at a steady pace on the descent to Walkington. Not long after the sharp left that takes you up the long drag to High Hunsley we had an incident, a fellow Thursday rider took a tumble. A quick glance back assured me that there was movement, nothing serious I hoped.

4 laps, 4 laps up that drag to High Hunsley, no problem, I’d done a recce on the drag a few nights earlier. The recce comprised of one ride up the drag and ended up in a near fight over the ownership of one of the Tour de Yorkshire signs I’d spotted. I won’t bore you with the details of the near fight, however I lost, but did manage to get a one of the TdeY signs a bit further up the road.

Back to the race, where Andy Abbot was pretty vocal and got the group settled going “through and off”, advising to slow up if you felt you’d been on the front too long. What a gent. Another rider I’d aim the Champagne at.

I felt ok going up to High Hunsley, everyone was keeping in check, I was cruising, what was the big deal? However, as soon as we started heading down back to Bluestone Bottoms the full mood of the peloton seemed to change and the pace upped dramatically. This pleasant and friendly bunch now started to hit 40 mph+. I was now having to put some effort in. How long was I going to last, and this was only the first lap?

Things settled again but near High Hunsley the second group had caught us, the pace now started to feel like some. As we headed back down to Bluestone Bottoms Andy had advised to step it up and feeling a little concerned about the new pace settled myself at the back. I asked Craig what he was doing, “Dunno” he replied, shortly afterwards he headed off to the group now steadily moving into the distance.

I let Craig go, though tested my legs a couple of times trying to get on to the back of the group, I could get on the group but thought I’d save the legs for later. I told myself to carry on cruising with my group and empty the tank at the end for the winning sprint, easy. However things are never easy are they? It soon dawned on me that my group had merged into group 2 and now I was on my own, Billy No Mates, and it was going to be a long night.

I ended up with a bit of company, two Beverley Velo lads, one spelled me up the hill, the other lad sat on my wheel and jumped me on the last ramp before the finish line. That was that, my first road race finished, unscathed, nearer the back than the front, however I’d really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait for Little Weighton.

Anyhow I’ll stop there, I hope you’ve enjoyed the read. I’m really enjoying my first year of road racing, it’s nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be. Mark Walker and Jim Sampson’s winter training sessions have prepared me well.

Don’t forget if you’ve got pics/videos or want to write something up send it to the website editor at website@htrc.co.uk.

 

Photos of the EYRRL 2015 can be viewed on Craig Zad’s website

Mike McAllister
HTRC Member