Jun 09

Back to racing with a bump – the Mark Walker comeback continues

Report from the City Road Club (Hull) Pete Taylor Memorial Road Race.


Following a relatively successful couple of races the previous week, I was back on the start line for the Pete Taylor Memorial 2/3/4 Road Race at Little Weighton on 7 June. I was representing the club along with Danny Posnett & Jim Trevor.


It appeared that summer had arrived with lovely blue skies and warm sunshine – perfect for a 50 mile road race. The wind was a strong westerly, though, which meant the drag up to the finish out of Little Weighton was presented with a strong headwind.


We got going and perhaps not sure of what to expect, surprised myself by getting to the front and putting in a little dig. My heart ruled the head for a moment before sense came back. Knowing that I would in no way be able to keep a bunch of 60 away on my own for 7 laps, I eased up and reintegrated into the pack.


The drag up to the masts at the top of South Cave hill was also a headwind affair, but the attacks started to come one after the other. Danny was having a few attempts to get away, but each one was closed down instantly.


It wasn’t until the crossing of the first lap that any move seemed to be allowed freedom. Billy Robinson (Squadra RT) attacked and got a large gap of around 300 metres. John Brearley of City RC then went after him and managed to bridge, but as was the case for the first lap, nothing was allowed to go and they were eventually caught around the start of the drag to the masts.


The next move of note had two HTRC members away in me and Danny. I’d bridged up to a group of about 5 on the finishing straight and without realising it we had a gap. I was a little in the red to start off with so couldn’t take too many turns at first, but once I found myself I was feeling comfortable. In the original group was the likes of Paul Rymer of Wilson Wheels, so I knew it could go places. Danny caught us along with a group of about 7/8 making the breakaway a strong force to be reckoned with. I thought we could stay away, but I wasn’t confident whether I could last the distance with so few miles in the legs recently. However, inexplicably, the majority in the group just eased up on that drag to the masts.


It made no sense, you’re in a group of say 12 with a gap to the bunch. You work, you get points, simples. Whether it was the wind, or the distance remaining I don’t know but something brought doubt to the break and it was caught and the opportunity missed.


The flurry of attacks continued though but it was a day when seemingly nothing was allowed to go.


Attacking, however, was starting to be the last thing on my mind. As we crossed the line for the fourth time my legs were starting to burn. Whereas the first 2 laps I felt as if I was floating on the pedals, I was now very much stinging from them. The stop start nature wasn’t much to my liking, nor Jim’s, but it was the periods when it was strung out that really hurt. I could see riders just easing away from me and my legs unable to pedal harder. Fortunately the bunch would relent and allow me some rest.


I survived another lap, but with a lap and a half to go I found myself plum last in the bunch, knowing I had no room for error if I let a gap go. After the sharp hairpin at the end of the masts straight, came a short but sharp hill that lead into a descent back into Little Weighton. I sprinted out of the bend, kept the bunch close in view but then found my legs would take no more. The gap steadily grew to about 50 agonising metres. They even eased up a little once over the crest of the hill and I gained a few metres, but once they upped the pace again they were gone. I kept them in my sights through Rowley but they were now gone, as were my legs.


I pulled out once I made my way to the finish. I wasn’t too crushed with the result with it being only my third race back, and I considered it good training. I only wish I could have been more help to Danny and Jim, instead of being about as useful as a pair of sunglasses on a bloke with one ear.


For the record Rich Moore of Squadra RT led a break of 6 (yes, one did manage to get away eventually) to the line with a masterful sprint. Danny was mid-bunch, furious with how others raced & Jim did brilliantly to finish so comfortably. Perhaps that’s being a tad patronising as I sometimes forget how good a rider Jim is as its not very often he races with me (mainly because he resides in Greece!) but when you factor in his TT results it should come as no surprise to see him do so well.


I’ve got a couple of weeks away fortunately to get some proper miles in my legs, so I can hopefully attack the next part of the season. As on the evidence of today, I’ve only got about 40 miles of racing in me before I start to crumble.


Anyway, onwards and upwards as they say.


Mark Walker
HTRC RR Secretary