From SVR's Phil O'Connor and Jos Busby
Equipe Velo 2/3 Crit - MK Bowl
On Saturday Alex Woods and I went along to the Milton Keynes Bowl for the first of their early spring crit series races. The 2nd/3rd cat field of 80 were restricted to the non-technical perimeter track for their early season leg tester and this seemed to nullify the racing somewhat. There were a few surges throughout the race and a break of three got away for a few laps, only to be reeled in by the largely intact bunch.
After that the race remained fairly static and an inevitable bunch sprint loomed. I expected the pace to pick up sooner but it wasn't until the last lap and a half that things really started moving. With such a large bunch and nothing to string us out it was difficult to make any headway on the narrow course. Alex had a strong ride, often on or near the front while I sat further back for most of the race. In the end we both came in around 20th, pleased to find we could live with the pace at this early stage of the season.
Zappi's Spring Crit Series - Enstone Airfield
On Sunday Alex and Phil were joined by Jos Busby as he went in search of his first BC points in the 4th Cat race. Here's Jos' race report .......
.......Being a local race I decided to ride to the venue considering it’s only a few miles from home. I partially regretted the decision as the access road to the site was like an introduction to Cyclo-cross caking my freshly cleaned bike in mud! Previously I’d spectated at the Enstone Circuit but it was my first time racing it. I was certainly excited after the disappointment of the previous race in Abingdon to be racing again but in much fairer conditions. Enstone offers a fast technical course with some exposed long straights; definitely a great one for new racers especially with a field limited to 40 and with the width and grip the track afforded.
After rinsing my bike as best I could with what I had spare in a water bottle and a couple of warm up laps the race set off. There was an incident early on which contrary to my earlier observations about the course saw a rider slide out and another rider taken with him as a result; fortunately, I’d managed to avoid it. I don’t know if the planes landing on the adjacent runway might have caused a distraction but it was a novelty certainly! I knew from the offset what I had to do to have a chance to succeed so I would try my best to keep close to the front sitting a few riders back in order to save my legs but keep in contention and be able react to attacks if it seemed appropriate. For me at least I knew too long on the front with the headwind on the long straight and my legs would fail me. Probably applying the label of “wheel sucker” wouldn’t have been unfair in this case. Going into the last 4 laps I knew I wasn’t in the best position as I had slid to the back of bunch which Phil quite rightly pointed out with some encouragement from the side-line. So I pushed on and within a couple of laps managed to position myself right at the front going into the final lap, good but not ideal if I’d hope for a strong finish. Last couple of corners saw a few riders pass but I managed to dig in to hold on to a provisionally 7th.
I’m over the moon to be claiming my first BC points and a move towards a 3rd Cat licence this early in the season. Certainly no time to get complacent but a step in the right direction and justification for some bleak cold rides over the Winter. A very well organised event and great fun, will be back for more next week!
In the 2/3 race Alex and I finished the weekend with a stronger showing than the day before, although any chance of racing for a win disappeared quickly. Right from the gun a solo rider got away and stayed away. Clearly a pre-planned tactic as his team mates did a good job of slowing the chase until the leader had gained a lap and victory was assured. Alex was doing more than his fair share of work on the front of the pack while I was finding my feet on my first visit to the Enstone circuit and staying within a few wheels for most of the race. 2 more riders managed to get away and looked like they had sewn up the podium spots so the bunch were now racing for 4th.
With 5 laps to go I managed to get to the front and give Alex a bit of respite for a lap or so but it was all I could manage. I hoped it had helped keep the pace up at an important point in the race and stopped the bunch having too much of a rest before the final push. As we took the bell I was still in sight of the front of the pack and Alex up at the front as usual. Coming into the last set of corners I did a quick count and realised I'd need to take about 5 riders to get some points. I got past a couple through the corner but as the speed picked up I realised that the rider a couple of wheels in front had lost the wheels in front and all the points were gone up the road. I rolled in 15th.
Luckily Alex was up ahead still racing for points and, considering the amount of work done throughout the race, put in a great effort to finish 5th.
All in all a decent showing. With better form to come for all three and more team members yet to start racing it should be the early signs of a good season.