Bletchingley 2/3 RR

8 Apr

This Saturday was one of 2 (or 3 if you think of the Les Ingham) that are run on the Bletchingley circuit, its a fairly tough circuit with a fairly long climb, and a fairly punchy one. Sadly due to roadworks the punchy steep climb had to be removed and we cut the lap a bit short, but added an extra lap to make the race distance.

The week had started fairly well at Hog Hill, and I’d done a bit in the week, probably had a few too many days off though, owing to a work night out which was quite a late one. However, on the day, legs felt good, and although it was pretty cold when I got down there, the weather was due to get a lot better too.
It was quite an interesting field, and had many of who I consider to be the strong people of the league racing, so there would be no shortage of attacks, and indeed people to watch out for. I’d had a quick scan of the list to look at a couple of numbers to make out a particular Dynamo (as they had ten riders) and a couple of others who I thought were strong. We got off to a fast start, the course has a very fast downhill section which is thankfully well paved, but it certainly tests your nerves when taking the corners at 40 mph (I hit 46 mph down there this year apparently!). After the first lap a rider (who I forget the name of) that had previously won here solo got off the front after the hill, but the bunch were fairly active in chasing things down at this point, and he was quickly brought back. We got round the course again and as usual lots of people pinging off the front, nothing looked that interesting to me until a move with around 6 riders got away, it had at least two strong riders in it, and looked to be going well, I decided I wanted to be part of it and bridged over, I was careful not to drag anyone with me, and I got over, but as soon as I did so the working stopped, and on the hill we were brought back.
Then perhaps a little later a move of 5 or so people got away, memory is a bit hazy, but it seemed to have a couple of names in it, and truth be told I can’t remember what happened with regards to me seeing it go and making a choice not to. After some time we seemingly were getting plenty of shouts from people on the side of the road when all we really wanted to know was how many and the gap. Eventually I heard a guy from my club who was roadside shout that there were 5 or so and had 45 seconds, nobody was that interested in bringing it back, and the race was ticking away. A little later Lawrence Carpenter and a Southdowns rider tried hard to get over and they dangled off the front for a fair time before eventually they were brought back. It was at this point I think a lot of people were wondering whether anyone was going to be allowed to make a move. Lawrence went again with another rider, and again was out front for some time before eventually getting out of sight, that was a move I should have gone with quite possibly but I thought it may still be a bit early and everything I’d done so far had been chased down, or people had sat up, so I was biding my time as the gap at this point had not got much bigger. Then maybe on the 2nd to last lap the move that I CERTAINLY should have tried to go with went, Paul Sewell from Bigfoot (who won our club race 4 weeks back) and another rider made off up the road, they were watched for some time and again they too went out of sight. I was feeling pretty stupid at this point for not being in either of these moves which by now contained just about all the strongest riders. Jules Birks had a few strong digs to get over but was towed back too. It came to the last lap and it seemed like we were not going to get to the break, I think there were now either 9 or 11 riders up the road as we crossed the bell lap.
I thought at this point I had nothing to lose and on the high-street drag I noticed Keith Lea from Addiscombe have a dig off the front, I knew Keith was a fairly strong rider from his times in the few sporting TT’s I’d done with him this year, and also he’d been in the break at Milland Hill, I sprinted away to join him, and finally got clear of the bunch who obviously were not interested at this point – though I do think its a good place to attack, and I probably should have tried a lap earlier) Keith and I were working fairly well together, but I wasn’t getting much draft behind as Keith is certainly built more like a cyclist than me! We scooped up a couple of riders who’d got up the road but not really got very far, and we were now 5 strong as I pushed the pace down the hill to get a gap, its not often you see 400w on your screen going down a steep hill, but I knew that if we were to get any kind of gap then it would be there it would be formed. We flew under the motorway bridge and the bunch were not in sight, which was good. Sadly though we had picked up two riders who both had people up the road in the break, now I’m not entirely sure if they thought that if they helped we would catch them break (there was zero chance of this) but after a while they both refused to do a turn and it was just myself and Keith, and occasionally a Dulwich rider, so the move certainly slowed and lost some momentum. I thought about attacking the break, but I figured the Twickers rider looked strong and was well rested so I did have a go but it was brought back fairly soon after. I figured we may aswell sit in and wait for the hill, I wasn’t fussed about getting a ‘place’ as I was sure we were racing for 13th anyway, so I just wanted to finish ahead of the bunch, for safety if nothing else.
As we hit the foot of the hill the bunch were well in sight, and they were gaining, but the hill isn’t that long and as the finish line was in sight the bunch were maybe 15m behind, the Twickers rider launched, and was joined by someone from the bunch they fought it out for 10th and 11th (or possibly 13th and 14th) I got clear of Keith and just about held off Ryan Visser from Redhill who was closing in quickly. I may have come 12th, I may have come 15th, either way it wasn’t a great result as again I probably had the legs to be in the move but for one reason or another nothing worked today. The winner was Mike Debney who is on super form, who apparently attacked his break and won solo, followed by Steve Calland of Southdown bikes who no doubt unleashed a monster sprint up the hill.
Toachim House GP two day stage race this weekend, which is a strong field of elite/1st cat riders, so will see how I go there.

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