Sunday, 23 April 2017

Three turn up for Preston Park & Matthew places (again)

Matthew watches for his chance
By Adrian Webb
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 22:39
adewebb's picture

The encouragement may just be working. This Sunday three (yes, 3!!!) Redhill racers turned up at Preston Park to represent the club at this popular track crit series. Current race ace Matthew Ferguson, looking to build his points total further plus Simon Webster and new racer Michael Dickson trying it out for the first time. 

Two have done write-ups of their experiences, so here we go...

Matthew's account:

I started the cat 3 race hoping to improve on my 6th and 4th in the previous two rounds of the series. My previous experience from the series was that it was likely to be controlled by a couple of teams and brought back for a sprint. Therefore I decided to adopt similar tactics to the last two rounds. I sat towards the back of the group saving my energy and enjoying the free speed. However, unlike previous weeks the bigger teams started attacking with a few laps to go, meaning no one in the group was willing to work to keep up the pace and we slowed right down. Two guys managed to stay clear and claim 1st and 2nd. The slower pace meant the group spread right across the track and it was very hard to make my way round the outside in the last couple of laps. In the end I got boxed in and rolled home in about 20th. 
Having not put in a sprint I had plenty of energy left, so made a late decision to enter the immediately starting E123 race. After a frantic number change I was off again. It was a small group, but with several very strong riders (including a defending masters national champion). It was a difficult first quarter of an hour, following attacks and chasing breaks until a lead group of three established. This group would stay away until the finish. In the chasing group we all worked well together for the next half hour and it felt almost like a training ride. It was at around 10 minutes to go that the aggressive racing started again. With 50 miles of racing in the legs by this point I took a defensive role when the serious attacks started. I stuck in the group, occasionally helping to chase the moves down and in the end our group held together for a final lap sprint. I positioned myself much better this time and came away with 4th from the group and 7th overall. 

Michael's account:

This was my first attempt at a race. It was the Cat 4 race at Preston Park. I arrived exceptionally early and proceeded to start my warm up routine, check the bike, etc. and all was good. Slowly but surely a few more riders started joining in the warm up process. My nerves were starting to flare at this point, but only slightly, and only because I didn't know what to expect. My only thought was to not get dropped.

At 8:20, I took my position at the front, rather wait and get a good start. The race started with a slow turn around the track and then a whistle post 1 lap and the race was on. One thing I noticed, is with the inexperienced riders, they all started pushing hard for the first 20 minutes. I was slowly getting churned to the back. I waited until I was clear and made a hard push from the back on the outside to take the lead and started forming a solo break. I was concerned that I wouldn't have the power to sustain it (I now know that I should have stayed with it). So I let the peloton catch up and I tried to form a chain gang. All I heard from the peloton post that move was "watch Redhill". I knew at that point I was marked. I became boxed in and battled to move. Everywhere I looked boxed and I just couldn't get any room to move. I thought to sit in and store my energy. My plan was to open up on the second last lap. When the second last lap came, I started my burn down the outside, moving up, until a rider in front clipped the outside barrier and went down straight in front of me. With no where to go, I went straight into the downed cyclist, not remembering much from the fall other than flying over him. Thankfully, not feeling much pain from the fall other than in my ankle. I helped the downed cyclist up and we moved to the side of the track. I was feeling exceptionally dissapointed that I couldn't finish. But talking to the track manager, I was asking about getting a chance to join back in, he double checked if I was sure, and I just had to finish. I manged to jumped back on and had to join the back of the peloton with 1 lap to go! After taking a fall, and being shook up, I did all I could to seal a final finish of 14th place.

At the end of the race, it has fuelled me to attempt the next one and learn from some mistakes I feel I made on the route. But all in all, a good day out, exhilarating, scary and adrenaline pumping race.

I need more!