Grey skies hung over Middleton and as the first riders on the TT start list set off the rain began falling. It wasn’t heavy but it did give some strength to the tailwind. By the time I lined up at 10.52, the rained had eased.
The start was quick, pushed along by the wind. At the drag my 43kmph started slipping down, but I managed to keep it over 40kmph. The right turn and the final drag to the finish was hard work and I crossed the line at 6.40 by my reckoning, 6.35 by the official one, so I’ll go with that. Racing with me from the club, David finished with 6.18 and Jake =3rd on 5.52, 6s behind the race leader George Fox. Joe was DNS thanks to mechanical problems. Three second claim members were also racing – Gareth finished on 6.35 for Peterborough, Ed made a round 6.00 for Bonito and Wayne, I think still suffering with his knee from the Tour of Cambridgeshire, finished on 6.45.
My time left me at the bottom end of the field, but it was a major improvement on the earlier Rockingham 2-day so I suppose I should be happy with that.
Over lunch the rain cleared and the roads dried off a little, but more was forecast for the afternoon…
The first lap of the Middleton circuit was dry and fast. Attempts to make a break were tried but they didn’t succeed.
Over the Bringhurst climb for the second time and the heavens opened. The rest of the race was framed by a grim succession of heavy showers and gritty spray. My helmet doubled up as an isotonic sweat salt drip. I needn’t have bothered with my second bottle.
Despite the rain I didn’t see many punctures, but unfortunately David was one of the casualties, being forced out shortly before the third climb through Bringhurst. For our small team, this meant Jake really was on his own at the front.
The Bringhurst climb was OK, the part I found difficult was the following descent to Drayton; each time we got over, we had a sharp left turn made the pack slow then accelerate. This caused us to string out and dangerous splits started to form. I got most of my days exercise chasing back in to the pack. Ashley was similar but for different reasons. Here the road winds through the village, but out of necessity as much as speed, parked cars made the bunch stretch. By the flat open road we were full pelt with a tailwind.
On the last lap I was starting to feel the pace – we were looking set for a sub 2 hour 50 mile race on a rain soaked circuit. While I was hanging on at the back, Jake was leading at the front. Middleton can be a dicey sprint and the organisers knew this, so with 1km to go I sat up, safe in the knowledge we would all be getting the same time. David, Jake’s dad, cheered me across the line and shouted something – it took a moment to process – Jake had won! An excellent result and another step closer to his 1st cat licence.
A few minutes later I stopped my bike computer on 1 hour 55 minutes. 60 miles tomorrow; 12 laps on the Southwick circuit; 12 times up that long and steady hill. I think I’ll have earned my Father’s Day beer after that…