Not this year's race but the pain is the same.

Not this year's race but the pain is the same.

This was the race where I heard the best thing I’ve ever heard a race marshal say. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to use it to open this report, then I’m going to use it again at the correct point, chronologically, then I might use it at the end.

 

“There’s shit all ever t’ road”

 

 

It’s the Eric Biddulph Memorial Road Race and I’ve got unfinished business. That’s not in reference to the upset stomach that I’ve woken up with, it’s about the course. This is just up the road from the Carlecotes Circuit where I got my ass kicked in the Bill Miles Memorial Trophy. It’s a similar course with the only difference being that rather than just go up or down, this one has a couple of flat bits in it. The course is near Penistone, I’ll pause here while you do some sniggering.

 

 

I recce’d this course on Monday, that’s how serious I am about the race. The recce involved 100kms with about 2000m of climbing. I followed that up a day later with another ride over the same distance and height. That’s how idiotic I am about this race. To be fair I was attempting to find my legs but I think I only succeeded in losing what remained of them.

 

Saying that I’ve rested up for a few days and on the start line my old confidence is returning.

 

I’m going to be a marked man in this race. Not because I’m the guy everyone expects to win it, but because I’m the guy that emailed the organisers to tell them the course was a bit of a mess.

 

That recce that I did on the Monday was a voyage of discovery. I discovered a course with piles and piles of black gravel placed roughly 10 yards apart for about half the circuit. They were those black stones that either ping up and chip your frame or simply stick to your tyres. You’re either getting a puncture or a bit of black stone in your eye. The choice isn’t yours.

 

I emailed the organisers about it with the idea of being helpful but only succeeding in sounding like a health and safety person. A health and safety person who has gone mad about health and safety, which itself has also gone mad.

 

The organisers assured me that the course would be swept and on my warm up lap I can see that they’ve kept that promise. What a trustworthy bunch. I might tell them some of my darkest secrets.

 

This course is lined with wind turbines and so you know to expect strong winds. Luckily for me they’re not really spinning when the race starts. Bad luck if you were waiting for a bit of electricity so you could put the kettle on.

 

I need a result today. Not because it’s my last chance to get the points for Cat 2. I need a result because my missus is using the car so I’ve had to get a taxi here. £40 it’s cost me. I do some maths and realize I actually need 2 results.

 

With the lack of wind the race is staying together when it would usually be ripped apart. I’m still confident that a move will go and so I put myself in several of them. The most promising is one that I start by attacking over the top of the finishing hill but it only lasts a couple of minutes at most.

 

I’m not feeling great but I’ve barely been out of the top 10 for the whole race. My confidence is growing and this finish should suit me as it’s on a relatively long climb. I’m not even concerned that I’ve lost one of my water bottles after hitting a massive pothole. Later on I’ll realize that my already upset stomach, combined with a couple of gels and not enough water is not part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

An hour in and the rain starts coming down. It’s accompanied by a bit of a breeze but it’s nothing biblical. I’m not sure what else has happened on this lap but as we round a sharp bend, one of the marshals yells the best thing I’ve ever heard a race marshal yell. This is the second time you’re going to read this.

 

“There’s shit all ever t’ road”

 

He's right. What the hell happened here? 

 

Talking of down south, there’s a rider representing CC Hackney in this race. Despite both riding for London teams we’ve not had the chance to chat yet. Halfway in and he’s been dropped. I’ve won the London Club in a Yorkshire Race Trophy.

 

I tell you what else I’ve won. I’ve won the Prime. A well timed sprint and I’ve hit the line first to claim £20.  That’s half my taxi fare. Sadly I’ve sprinted a lap too early. The flag being waved was to signal the start of the prime lap and not the end. Still I’ve won the lap before the Prime prize. You can’t take that away from me.

 

There’s a moment 3 laps from the end when my confidence really grows. I’m second wheel and the rider in front is riding a pretty fierce tempo. I look back after what seems like ages and we’ve dropped the whole bunch. Is he just going to continue and take me all the way to the finish? Is this THE move? Nope. Not sure what it was. It’s probably softened me up, though.

 

Heading into one of the final corners on the penultimate lap and I get totally mugged. A big group of strong lads that I haven’t really seen much of put a big dig in and I’m suddenly towards the back of the bunch. There’s only about 30 of us left but I need to get back to the front if I want to be in the mix.

The pace stays fierce for the final lap and I now discover that my bad legs weren’t just a passing phase.

 

Into the final hill and my only hope is to absolutely light it up and hope that everyone else blows. In the end some riders in front of me throw the towel in and the 15 or so who will sprint for victory get away. I come in just behind having learned a decent lesson. I’ll be back on this circuit again in a few weeks and I know to either make a concerted effort to get away or to not get mugged on the penultimate lap. If this race had been in the ERRL I’m certain I’d have had points. They’re too many strong lads and not enough races up here.

 

“There’s shit all ever t’ road”