We started stage 2 in Middleton, outside the Wheeler’s club house. The race was neutralised through the village and remained so until we passed a car boot sale about a kilometre from the Bringhurst climb. After the morning time trial, my worry for this race was this climb. The flag went down, the race was on and we attacked the climb.
I made it over the climb fine, now I only had to do it four more times. The pace along the Drayton road was tail wind fast. Through the villages the bunch was twitchy. Ashley and Middleton both had parked car chicanes, while oncoming traffic brought on plenty of sudden braking – one rider in front of me even skidded. Before the race started I had decided to go with the flow and concentrate on getting around. I didn’t expect to spend quite so much time anticipating the next traffic induced bunch seizure, especially given the unpredictability of some drivers, like the old boy who decided to stop opposite the car boot sale entrance.
The local council had added to the bunch’s excitement by surface dressing the road from Medbourne to Ashley. The sound of loose chips pinging off carbon frames sounded like someone had chucked gravel in a tumble dryer, but I didn’t notice them cause any punctures.
Onto the final lap and I was feeling OK. The climb wasn’t bothering me either, but the final attacks started to. David P had a go, as did Dan, followed by Gareth, riding for Peterborough. Sitting in the bunch had been easy, but now I was having to put in efforts to keep up; my throat felt OK, but my lungs were feeling the pressure. After Ashley the bunch eased off. A lone rider made a break, but no one seemed willing to chase him down .
One kilometre to go and, by unspoken consent, the bunch accelerated. The sprint on this circuit is a hairy one with a sharp right hander 250m from the finish. Since I had no intention of contesting I stayed near the back (we would all get the same time) and made sure I had room to move and keep out of trouble.
I’m glad I did. About 500m to go someone on the left went down hard. Maybe four or five others followed him. I kept out of it, sat up and rolled up over the finish line. Of the crashed riders, one was knocked unconscious, but no bones were broken. Hopefully they’ll all make a swift recovery, but I doubt we’ll see many of them stage 3.
Overall a better race from my body than the one I had expected, but throughout, I was only ever a passenger coasting at the back. On stage 3 I’ll try to rectify that.