Monday, November 11, 2013

Steve - 2013 Inter Area Championships

About a month ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in riding the Inter Area Champs…..I’d been aware of them for a while but I’d never really thought about doing them until about three weeks ago.

Now here’s the thing, how much a Yorkshireman am I? Did I put myself forward to represent Yorkshire, who were only sending two teams and run the risk of not being selected……Or did I put myself forward to ride for the North East, who were fielding three teams and thus offer a better chance of a ride? I did the right thing and rode for the North East……..Actually, I’m joking. I race in the North East predominantly these days, their friendly folk and it just seemed right seen as it was Keith Murray of Scott UK who suggested I ride.

With partner in crime at Ted nursing a hangover and confined to the pits, we arrived in plenty of time to suss out the course, pits and what on earth a team cx race is all about. Two goods, one bad.

Good number one was the course, fast, no running, twisty but with a couple of lovely, long pan flat, firm headwind effected sections. Some limited but significant Belgian bowling green and some tarmac to leather it on. Good number two was the pits and the atmosphere around the finish area. Game on…Bad was the realisation that the likelihood of not having to turn myself inside-out was zero due to the scoring system. Every single place mattered to the team.

Just two practice laps was all that was needed. There was nothing more to be gained. Back tub nought point five squidgy, front tub squidgy, no need for uuber squidgy. After some creative safety pinning of my supplied XL team jersey, I achieved something that fitted my size S body, where it touched and made my way to the start. Back row of the grid and revved for a ‘Laars Van der Holeshot’ start…and we were away. Flat out.

Assuming no one eats tarmac, I love road starts. Moreover I love that two second moment when everyone leaves the tarmac for the first time at about thirty miles an hour and whilst dodging golf ball sized clumps of mud everyone’s thinking the same thing ‘oh fuck this is dodgy, I’m going to die’.

I didn’t die, and normal service was resumed. Lined out, in quality company and on the rivet. Going fast enough to not want to let a gap open in about 20th place. I sat and thought to myself, ‘we’re about ninety seconds in, hold back and wait to kick’. The guy in front of me from the Midlands let a gap develop so kick I did….and rode a good half a lap whilst bouncing the cardiac rev counter on the red line. I was away, with three for company. Two North West guys and pleasingly a North East Teamate.

The North West guy came to the front and rode like a train after I sat up…bluntly he nuked me. I sat on him for a lap or so but simply didn’t have enough in reserve to get back up with him after the inevitable slip. With four to go our group was established, the remaining NW guy and I sharing the work and the north easterner a yo-yoing passenger. As we passed through the pits I geared up for a change half a lap later thinking that I’d slickly drop from the front to the back of our group and then attack when the NW guy made his change. It didn’t work out. A poor remount during which I momentarily thought someone must have nicked my pedals cost me twenty metres and I had to chase to regain the group. Plan B…

With a lap and a half to go, my NE teammate had blown up big time and was history. With a duo of Yorkshire lads tantalisingly forty metres in front it was time for collaboration. A gasped pact between the NW guy and I to burry ourselves to bridge the gap and then sort it out at the finish ‘pistols at dawn’ was formed.

We bridged the gap with about thirty meters to go, which was (un)helpfully announced by the commentator but we were done for after the foregoing minute flat out into  the headwind. If a million pounds had been on the line, maybe. But under the circumstances there was nothing left for a sprint.

I finished 14th, pretty happy given a national A status race. I was also thrilled to take a couple of notable scalps. One in particular. I don’t mean this in any way nastily, in fact quite the opposite…people I really rate as riders (and friends). They’ll no doubt blow me into the weeds next week.

The NE ‘C ‘ team, I represented finished roughly half way down the proceedings but I did my bit and was well in and amongst the A team riders most other regions had sent.    

The only cloud of the day was when precisely five seconds after collecting a new FMB tub from Jedi Cyclesport’s van, Ted walked round the corner carrying my spare bike with a flat back tub and said “you’ve picked up a puncture”.

Hey it’s only money….£10.25 per BC point.

Money well spent!

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