Richard, our DS, writes:
It was an overcast Sunday morning at Sutton Bonnington. There was all the usual race build up and as normal I had pre-race butterflies even though I wasn’t racing. Jono was, in the hour before, just excited to be racing, but once on the rollers he got his got race head on. Edd and Elliot both arrived with a sense of calm determination assessing the course and wind.
There were my usual last minute jobs! I didn’t see Elliot until just before the race when we found his arms were too thin for the race leader’s armband so I had to pin it tighter. Then sign on asked if Joe was racing as he had not registered by that point and there were only 10 minutes left. Lo and behold Joe (the eternal student) rocks up two minutes before sign on closed but ready to race and wondering what the fuss is about.
I felt finally settled and gathered the team together for our Road Captain, Edd to hold our pre-race team talk . At the start line it was interesting to notice Edd and Elliot at the front with Joe a little further in and Jono further back still. I wondered at the time if this was a demonstration of the confidence they have and as they get more and more races together if I’ll see all four on the front row.
So the race rolled out and the first couple of laps saw individuals go off the front. That always amazes me as everyone has fresh legs at the start so it is incredibly unlikely for it to stick. On lap five Joe has a go off the front with one other, joined by a couple more and the lead went out to a minute. It’s early but a good gap and I did wonder whether it might stick. It was probably my heart ruling head as in reality it was still way too early. Eventually the pack closed in and shut the move down. Still, it was a great example of our team ethos; give it a go even if it’s a slim chance.
Elliot’s next up and gets away with a few other riders but I did’t feel that they were all working and a couple of laps later it’s all back together. I sensed some frustration from Elliot as possibly he may have felt it would have got away if they’d have all worked. Again it was heartening to see LLB riders always trying and testing the bunch’s appetite. As the laps tick down, I think with six to go, the race opened up right across the start/finish line and a group gets away. Then, with four to go, Edd makes his move, bridges and takes seven with him and within a lap the gap goes out to 1:30. That injection of pace saw the front group whittled down to nine with all the main teams represented in the break: LLB, RPD, PB Performance, Beeston CC and a couple of Rutland Roleurs. Jono, Joe and Elliot were all working to break down the speed of the bunch but to be honest no one looked interested in bridging. A couple did make a move and go off and settling into the gap between the lead break and the bunch. Jono put in a defensive move and had a couple of laps off the front of the bunch looking to catch the two escapees in no man’s land but eased off to avoid acting as a stepping stone for the bunch to catch the break . They were though 2:30 clear by then and with only two or three laps to go in no danger of being caught. Jono rejoined the bunch and settled for a team role to ensure Edd had a chance.
At this point Edd’s Dad told me it would be fine so long as Edd didn’t puncture or crash. I was fine until these ‘pearls of wisdom’,which served to raise my anxiety as we only had Edd in the break, “We should have two up there, we need insurance”. My mind was racing away through all the possible negative outcomes since for all that you read about positive talk, you still have to be mindful of ‘the disaster’. On the last lap, Edd was looking really comfortable and I thought we would have a chance of another win,but as they came into view the Derby Merc and Rutland Roleur riders seem to have gapped the rest. No worries though, you lose more than you win in bike racing, and it was great to see Edd storm the sprint for a three bike length win over Josh Housley.
We are still leading team competition in the EMRRL but now have Edd as League leader and Elliot in the number two slot. The team raced like a dream showing well drilled, selfless racing. There was great chat amongst the boys after and I had a few chats with people around the course to try and sink into the background so that the team have their own space to banter each other. It’s so early in the year yet this season has already surpassed my expectations and I love the way we race with such great team work. They are a great team!