I was chatting to Jake before the start of the Wellingborough race. Jake started racing with SNCC last year as a fresh young 4th cat and finished as a 1st cat racing for Spirit Bikes. He’s had a pretty good 2016 season so far; the other week he topped a string of strong showings by finishing 13th, and highest placed U23, at the Lincoln GP.
I had thought I was done with racing against Jake when he gained his 1st cat licence by ripping the legs off almost the entire field at an Alconbury circuit race last August. Apparently not.
Along with me, Ed and Wayne were the only two other SNCC riders brave/foolish enough to enter this race, the hardest of the NCRA summer series…and the only reason I even contemplated entering in the first place.
We rode out of Middleton into the picturesque Welland valley, normally a great place for a leisurely ride in bucolic English countryside. The race was neutralised on the climb through Bringhurst, then we turned right onto the circuit and 15 minutes of oxygen debt began.
The run down to Great Easton was predictably fast, the left turn on to Stockerston Lane, more affectionately known as the Devil’s Staircase, was… predictably fast. At one point on the climb I had a Spirit rider to the left of me, an NFTO rider to my right and a Richardson’s-Trek rider in front and I thought; this isn’t going to last.
On the climb’s final steep grind I passed Wayne going backwards. I stayed in the bunch, at the back, but still in the bunch and got to the next bend after the climb, but they weren’t slowing down. The climb had only warmed them up. I was on the wheel of a Corley rider, but a gap was opening between the next two riders in front of him. He jumped around and I followed. It was only a small gap, but he couldn’t close it. I went passed for a pull but that wasn’t helping so he came through again.
Earlier Jake had told me how he could now ride faster than the average speed in these races, so if he missed a break, he could ride across to it. Simple really. Corley and I weren’t missing a break, just the whole bunch. We chased down the B664 but the gap kept on growing. I figured our speed was probably hitting just below the bunch average.
Corley gave up at Medbourne. 23 minutes or 10 miles since I had first gone climbed the Devil’s Staircase I was back at the top. I waited for Wayne. He came up a minute later with a Peterborough rider. We rode a couple more laps and then I watched the race.
For the final two laps Spirit were in control with one lad, Antony Moye, up the road and the rest of the team regulating the bunch. He stayed away for a well deserved win. Ed stayed with the bunch, a tremendous effort given the final field, and finished 30th. At this rate, a 1st cat licence should beckon for Ed. I on the other hand will be a little more selective about my NCRA series race entries…