|Otley is the only local race of the year and it is also one of the biggest in the country. Thousands of people turn up and provide an amazing atmosphere. You'd be mistaken into thinking its the finish of a big ProTour race, and indeed, some of the riders in the Elite race have and are participating in ProTour races. |
Luckily, the two day spell of brilliant weather we've been having up these parts recently managed to hold on till the big day and it offered us a fast, dry circuit.
|The finish area of the race is packed.|
As always, Otley is a positions game, a fast moving chess competition. The narrow roads and twisty circuit makes life very difficult for you if your not at or towards the front in the pack when lining up at the start. A silent melee ensues when we are let out of the holding pen and onto the course.
Down to matters in the Chevin Cycles Classic Race.
From the flag the Mountavation boys where quick to start, sprinting though the chicane and partly up the hill before slowing to a more sedentary pace and letting all the others catch up. From here, the pace was set by riders from various teams.
Attacks went every lap as riders tried to make their mark on their local race. Dirtwheels, Mountavation, Haribo, Clay Cross, We ♥ Mountains and many more had a bash at staying away. I even had a go. Half way through, going up the hill past the church I put some power into the pedals and broke away. I quickly bridged to Alex Mitchell from We ♥ Mountains and together we built up a gap of about 15-20secs. Coming onto the finishing straight, the commentator said something about a Kellogg's prime so we both sprinted, with Mitchell just edging the win. Coming through the chicane and hill I came to the front again and put on the power to open up the gap a bit more. I looked behind to gauge the distance and my breakaway partner had exhausted himself and had been swallowed by the bunch. Knowing that I couldn't stay away by myself for another 7 laps I sat up and conserved my energy.
Me and Alex Mitchell in one of the many breaks
The race stayed together and with 3 laps to go I made a very conscious effort to move up. Once I did I switched off mentally and lost those places. On the last lap I was panicking a little because I was sitting in around 20th place. Up the hill I put in a big surge to move up, but came to a stop when the riders up front fanned out and blocked the round. Round the corners I moved up one or two more places. On the top straight, luckily, more gaps appeared and I easily moved up around ten places. On the corner before the decent the race was more or less decided, because with everyone spinning away their top gears, the was no great difference of speed between the riders. Just before the last 90 degree left-hander, a space appeared on the right so I jumped into it.
Once round, I opened up my sprint only to slam my breaks on someone blocked me.
He then moved to the left and I opend my sprint up once again, moving up a further two places before the line.
The rider that blocked me then decided not to give me enough room on the chicane, so I had to wear out half my brake blocks down as I tried to turn 35mph into a crash friendly speed. Luckily, I more fell onto the barriers rather than a full on collision and was unhurt.
Coming back to the HQ, I was slightly relieved I had come 10th, an improvement on last year!
Lee Tunnicliffe of Clay Cross RT narrowly won my race over a charging Jake Womersley of Sportscover Altura Haribo Academy. James King of Mountavation came across the line third. Well done fellas!
Organisation wise the management was spot on. A few suggestions for next year would be some more speakers up the chicane and hill, and a bit further back the last corner. I even heard someone mention having a big screen with a live feed, but maybe thats a bit opptimistic. Maybe in a couple of years time when cycling as a sport is a lot bigger!