Last Thursday evening, the rain started just as I turned off the A6116 into Corby. It started heavily and it stayed heavy right up to the moment when it stopped. Thankfully the clouds had the courtesy to move on before the season’s final handicap race in the NCRA calendar, but in half an hour they had dropped a pretty thorough soaking. The Speedway surface was slick and the far bends had standing water across their insides. A few warm up laps did little to loosen me up and after my last race I was just a little nervous about the conditions.
Yes my last race, I never wrote that one up, largely because it was over before it really had time to begin. It was the second Alconbury test event and it was raining. Two laps in and I had started backing off on the bends; the last time through the tight triple turns leading on to the perimeter road had been sketchy, plus there was oil on an earlier bend. The third time through the triple turns I slid on the second 90 degree bend. Lee, riding behind said I had had too much angle. A cracked helmet, bent drop out and grazes on my ankle, leg, thigh, shoulder, elbow and little finger saw me out of the race and that sector’s rough surface just enhanced the bloody mess. My family had come to watch too and to compound the injuries my youngest daughter, on seeing me, promptly burst into tears! With a knock to my head I went to A&E where a nurse cleaned me up with an iodine sponge.
Needless to say I didn’t fancy repeating that evening, especially since not all the cuts had healed.
There were only six in our pointless thirds group and I was also the only St Neots rider racing. We worked together and took the corners gingerly. Bit by bit we reeled the fourth cats in and at thirty minutes caught them on the oval, just by the grandstand. The pace was quite high until we reached the sweeping far side u-bend which took us back on to the infield. To me it felt the greasiest of the bends and we all took it steady, holding well spaced lines. Nevertheless the rider parallel to my right, about 2 or 3 metres distant crashed. I had a fleeting impression of his front wheel making a T of his bike then the ugly sound of collapsing man and carbon. If I had been cautious before, that had done nothing to reassure my confidence, so when three riders from scratch came hurtling through a lap later, and just before the same bend, I made no reaction whatsoever.
Over the course of the lap the three, along with another rider, broke away. A second group of seven consolidated followed by me then a few more behind.
At four laps to go I was on my own, about fifty metres from the second group. I used that lap to get back on terms – there was a possibility they might yet stay away and so a reasonably good chance of finally getting some points. I duly got into the group, but we were soon caught by the chasing group containing the rest of the seconds cats. Swelled by the new recruits, the pace again quickened and my caution reasserted. On the far corner I eased off and soon found a gap opening. I felt physically I probably could get back, but psychologically I knew that wasn’t going to happen – my race was finished by the bends. I completed the final lap and a half still up right.