It was a small field for the 8th race with only 27 riders, including 5 from St Neots, signed on. The riders were organised into two groups for the start. The second group was composed of 2nd cats and 3rd cats with points from the previous week, so I was relegated to the 1st groups with the 4th cats and pointless 3rds. I was joined in my group by Alasdair and the Adrians Bloxham and Lancaster, leaving Wayne isolated in the second bunch.
Our group set off at a sedate pace. I started at the back to see how things might develop, and chatted with one of the other riders, but soon got bored with the speed and moved forward. Despite a few attempts the organisation never really came together and the work was being left to a handful of riders. The pace was giving me a comfortable warm up, keeping a moderate mph in the low twenties, certainly not the race pace I had become accustomed to.
A Rutland Velo rider attacked and Alasdair jumped on his wheel. They lasted for nearly a lap and then it was my turn. I Jumped out the pack with a quick acceleration and I was away. No one followed and, for a while, Alasdair took control of the bunch, giving me some breathing space. Over the next couple of laps I started to distance the pack.
I had forgotten about the prime lap until Roland (race organiser) wandered onto the track and bellowed “Richard, Prime next lap!”. I glanced over my shoulder, there was still no chase and I guess I had 200m over the bunch. It’s in the bag, in a few minutes I’ll have earned a 66% discount on the race. Well that’s what I thought, but of course, racing is rarely that simple or easy. Half way round the prime lap I noticed 3 riders had jumped away from the bunch, and all stronger 3rds. They were closing down quickly, so I lifted the pace, but not enough. Bart, one of the Bourne riders came around, I tried to jump on his wheel, but he was already sprinting and I was forced to settle for 2nd.
After that the bunch came back together. The scratch group weren’t far back now, so while a few riders did try to break away, I coasted along, waiting for the catch. It came soon enough and when it did, I was at the front of our group. Four riders powered through, clearly trying to take capitalise on the momentary confusion of the catch. I immediately jumped across, but this escape didn’t succeed. Minus a few from our group, all the riders were soon together and the pace stalled. Then the next attack came and the pace ratcheted up until break was caught. That set the pattern for the next few laps. I got into several attacks and confident after my earlier effort had a couple more digs. Alasdair continued to attack too, but their frequency was starting to take a cost. One time I asked him if he was ready for another go, “5 minutes” the reply. The 2nds were too hard to shake and the seconds too difficult to make.
With 4 laps left to go, we approached one of the ramps and from the attitude of a couple of riders around me, I sensed another attack would happen. One of them went and I was ready to go. Or so I thought. I forced my legs on, but they were going to jelly and my hold on the wheel ahead was loosening. A rider came through the inside with a shout “rider right”, I moved to the left to a yelled warning “rider left”. I was being swamped and sliding back. For me this was an attack to far and I was being dropped.
I wasn’t the only one spat out by that attack and over the next couple of laps I passed a couple of riders, picked up a some passengers and later dropped them. On the final lap the small lead group really wasn’t that far ahead and only one rider, Johnny from Rutland Velo, lay between us. I tried to count them and figured there were only 9 or 10. If I caught Johnny perhaps I might still get a point, so I persisted. I chased as hard as I could manage, and although I was gaining, Johnny wasn’t giving in. I crossed the line not far behind, but the catch would have been moot. There were 10 in the lead group so I finished 12th; it’s my new 13th.