A new year – and a new race season, heralded in the traditional fashion with racers trekking up the A1 to Croft and Prissick. The headlines are that Hayden Allen scored a great victory at Prissick, sending him straight from Fourth Cat to Third Cat. Great result Hayden. And the winter training paid off for Gavin McIntosh who bagged a great fifth even before 2017 had begun with a race on New Year's Eve.
The annual Velo29 series at Croft is an ideal place to pick up a few early season points and with a relatively safe course it makes for a perfect place for your first race.
We were greeted by a huge sign on queue which meant there was a large field of riders. Chris Holmes, Joe Woodman, Michan Mckeowan Walker, Kyle Bibby, Gavin McIntosh, Hayden Allen and Tom Whale lined up for the Cat 4 race.
The drag to the line was fought out with Hayden getting 3rd, Kyle 4th, Chris 7th and Gavin 12th. It was quite disappointing for the race chips not to work for Joe and Michan who finished close to the front and in for a shout with points.
Here’s what Kyle told me later:
It was my first ever race, but I was feeling (cautiously) confident that as a team we were fairly strong. It turns out this was well founded, with everyone holding good positions near the front right from the start. In hindsight we possibly could have done a little less of the work (although it did feel good chasing down a couple of breaks). One thing I wasn’t expecting was how tiring it would be constantly fighting for position. In the last lap the speed picked up and I found myself slipping back through the pack slightly. Coming round the final bend I had pretty much written-off contesting the sprint, but decided I might as well have a go and went early. To my surprise I managed to scrape 4th. I enjoyed my first race and it was great that so many of us made it out. I’m really looking forward to more racing this year – but I’m also aware of how much I need to learn to make sure that I’m in the right position when it actually matters.
The women’s race followed closely behind with Emma Pulsford looking strong in the bunch. The women’s winner quite happily lined up with the E/1/2/3/4 race only 10 minutes after they finished.
I set off with the Cat 3s and Andy Ashton, a minute behind, with the Cat 2s. The race wasn’t too competitive and with 2 laps to go the Cat 2s caught. A frantic last lap ensued and the huge field made it difficult to move through everyone on the sprint. Happily finishing in the bunch Andy and I survived unscathed (I won’t mention your cramp issues Andy).
There are plenty of opportunities to get into racing this year with the opening of a local cycle circuit and many road and crit races. We have a great bunch of enthusiastic riders and I hope this encourages others to give it a go.
Many thanks to Darran Moore for the use of the photo.