Les Ingman Memorial Road Race

21 Apr

After my foray into the sharp end of amateur racing last week at the Toachim GP, this was more of the same, a tough national b course and a field to match. The race is held on the Bletchingley Course, the exact same one that the Surrey League races are run, which is good as I know it well having been there recently. Only difference being that the finish is down the bottom of the circuit for the Les Ingman rather than at the top of the hill and suits more of a sprinter.

I felt pretty good after last weeks stage race, and I really did feel like it sharpened me up a bit, the sessions I got done in the week were good, and I was going well even managed to get within reach of the club ten club record having beaten the nearest rival by nearly 1 min 30. I was keen to get stuck into this one to see if I could at least stay with it after a rude awakening last week with the wind, holding a wheel and nutrition issues all playing a part in my downfall! I had sorted the nutrition side of things this week as a matter of priority, my pockets were loaded with gels 😀

Thankfully the weather was exceptional this morning, and driving over I knew it wasn’t going to be a bad day weather wise, so that was one box ticked. There was a healthy field, almost full, and plenty of strong riders, many of the riders from last week were present, including a few others. I think this race would have had a stronger field still had it not been for the Rutland Classic also happening today, but I certainly wasn’t complaining!

We got off to a start and the pace was high, I felt comfortable, and I found that I could get a good position on the downhill as I go downhill well being a lump, so for the first lap or so I made sure I was near the front on the climb expecting to slide back a bit and then would make sure I moved up where I could. We were to do 10 laps today, which would make the total race distance around 90 miles. A few laps in the first match was burned, I had picked a poor wheel up the hill, he was going backwards and I noticed a big group were going off up the road, which happened to contain most of the contenders. So a big effort to get back on was made, it hurt, and wasn’t ideal at that stage of the race. My caution would be realized later on, but this time everyone made it back into the main pack on the downhill so I probably needn’t have killed myself to get back on so quick…

The next few laps were just spent keeping position watching what was going on, and if I could, try and be part of something. It was a fair time before anything happened really, at some point a very small group had slipped away, 3 riders I understand, and I also saw that another had gone solo to chase, I certainly knew I didn’t have the legs to be trying anything of that nature, so I watched for a bigger move, and indeed waited near the front to see whether this time up the hill would change anything.

I noticed Steve Calland moving up at the foot of the hill, and he was right to do so, I got his wheel the pace rose up the front, he kept going, and I didn’t, I stayed just about in touch, but knew that if I wasn’t on his wheel ( I think he was last man) by the time we hit the drag up the high-street then it would be VERY hard to get back on. It wasn’t just me who had missed that vital wheel and indeed as I sprinted up the high-street after him, I noticed it was just myself, and 3 or 4 other riders, a large group had been caught unaware and a split had occurred. The 4 of us started to work together, we knew the only chance we had at any kind of race was to work together to try and get back on to that front group. I felt good and was driving the pace for the main part with these other riders, and really pushed it on the downhill, we were always within sight of the lead pack which was around 20 riders, but it seemed that they then would edge out again. I was becoming a bit irritated that we were not working properly and we were slipping back, a bit of gentle encouragement saw us all pull together ;-), in hindsight I think I was suffering less than the other 3 (we had dropped one by this point) so my turns were perhaps a bit strong. As we approached the hill they were not too far ahead, but it took us nearly half a lap from there (so 1.5 laps – 15 miles in total) to finally catch them after the descent. What didn’t help that over the top of the hill the car that was clearing our way had stopped behind another car that was giving way, I slowed down, the others went straight round, this left me with another chase back on!! But thankfully I was able to get back on before we hit the downhill, lucky the legs were just playing ball at this point or I’d be in no mans land!

At this point with two laps left, lots of digs were coming in, but nothing really sticking, everything being jumped on. The course finish really suits a sprinter given the removal of a steep hill on the course due to roadworks, so as long as you go into the last left hander in good shape anyone was in with a shot. So I think perhaps a lot of guys were happy to let it be a sprint for 5th place (the others were well gone by this point). Into the last lap and it was properly slow, we chugged along and when we got into the last couple of k it was really cat and mouse, at one point down to around 10 mph before someone launched, the process was repeated a few times, eventually it was just all together round the last corner, I wasn’t in a great position as my legs were beginning to really ache, but I made sure I did move up a bit, and was in a position to at least go for a minor placing. As I went into the last corner I was a few wheels back, I kicked and passed a couple of guys but really had not been into the corner early enough to get anywhere near the front, so rolled in a few wheels back. Result pending, but apparently 12th in the HQ, but we will see, I’d take 12th though! The race was won by Madison Genesis rider Alex Peters who put in a monster ride to win solo by over two minutes! Impressive.

I was pretty happy with the ride after last week, it was just as hard as the race last week, probably harder, I’d done a bit of everything, and bridge was a nice moment when it finally happened. Its put my nerves at ease a touch, I know I can keep up at this level, and I know that I am capable of a result, though I still think its likely that it will come from a sprint or a break on a slightly more forgiving circuit, had the finish been up the hill today I’d have been gone in that company. But its positive, and makes me wonder why I haven’t managed that illusive win in the Surrey League yet, but I am confident that these hard races are really working.

Possibly get down to Hillingdon Tuesday before a weekend away from the bike due to a stag do, but after that there are plenty of races I’d really like to contest the win for, also got the regional champs to look forward to which will be a hard day out!

Race is here – Strava

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