Cycling is a funny thing, one second it can be going as planned, then in blink of and eye the clatter of carbon frames crackles through the evening.
Wednesday saw the first of the Eelmoor circuit series kick off and Cycleworks (CW) fielding quite a number of riders in Cat 3/4. Roland Chuter hiding near the front as well.
With quite a head wind on the start finish straight I had already planned to hide in the pack for a while, the 130k's from the day before in my legs needed a bit of warming up first. The plan worked, for the best part of half of the race I hid in the pack. This was a scary place to be that night, there was some very dodgy riding and huge amount of line changing without thought for the riders behind. On the corners and just about every lap the same guys seemed to be getting yelled at by someone, several of the juniors had joined the Cat3/4's and this made it even worse.
As the race moved on CW guys could be seen drifting up and down the pack, Dave, Nick and I had seem to settle in to the pack nicely, as some of the other CW guys either had a dig off the front or covered the breaks, young Mike was doing quite a bit of work and would be rewarded at the end.
We started to move forward in the pack, with the black and white jerseys around the front and both flanks. The overall pace seemed slower than normal, but the normal sprints out of the corners added a hint of spice, however with a few good turns of the pedals I found myself on someones wheel. Down the back straight on one such occasion the wheel I found was Roly's. We chatted briefly and got down to business.
Accelerating out if the bottom corner near the front of the pack (maybe 6th wheel) there was a familiar sound of carbon and bodies hitting the ground. A quick look and none of them were CW, Roly was just in front of me.
After this the pace dropped a bit for a few laps and some riders got very twitchy, especially a couple of the kids. But this settled down a bit and the pace picked up again.
5 to go - not much happened.
4 to go - an attack off the front, that lasted until the hit the head wind again.
3 to go - the jostling forward started.
2 to go.........
With only 2 laps to go and my legs feeling good I was moving forward in the pack, we cam through the bottom corner and in to the main straight for the penultimate time. The pack moved left then back right a bit, there was a decent gap on the right and I started to accelerate to move much closer to the front of the pack. A few riders had caught my wheel not matter, still a lap to go, back there was Nick K (CW Guildford).
The line I had chosen was clear and the pack was holing its line, so I keep accelerating. The plan to hit the front at the start finish and try to keep going. Then the most incredibly stupid thing unraveled in front of me, one of the kids (number 30), looked over his shoulder noticed us coming and the gap at the same time, almost turning at a right angle to jump in front of me on my line, he clipped another riders back wheel, pin balled of him in to a CW rider (think young Mike) bounced off him and hit the ground right in front of me. I had a split second to get the front wheel up and over him but then I was down, as I rolled over I heard the sickening clatter of carbon fibre and thump of bodies, catching a glimpse of one of the guys coming down knees first.
I had somehow self corrected and slid down the track stood on my cleats, watching as other riders stopped and swerved to narrowly miss being involved, it was a strange perspective to have of a crash you had been a victim in.
Nick K got up as did the kid who had very obviously caused the crashed by so erratically changing his line, the chap who had hit knees first was on the ground still as Nick cleared the bikes I waved the other Cats around the guy until he was moved painfully from the track.
A few choice words were had with the kid before he ran off to his mum. It was made clear that he had caused the accident and that he needs to think about his actions.
As we waited the Cat 3/4's came around to finish the race and young Mike zipped over the line for 3rd, Dave F, I think got 7th and I am not sure about the others guys. I think Roly got 15th and Nick and I got wobbly front wheels and few cuts and bruisers.
That's racing, but we did lodge a complaint about the lad and a couple of others also did the same as he had been dangerous all night apparently.
Lets see how next week goes.