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An update from Craig on how his racing is going...

On Sunday 18th July I travelled to Ampleforth in Yorkshire to compete in the National Junior Road Race Championships.  It turned out to be a lovely sunny day, however there was a strong wind blowing, which seemed to change direction regularly through the trees.  It looked like it was going to be a tough day in the saddle.  As you can probably guess I wasn't disappointed!



The race rolled out from Ampleforth Abbey and within 100m of the commissaires flag dropping the pace was lifted to 30 plus mph.  This was made harder as it was an uphill bit of road.  My legs were burning already and there were another 60 miles to go.  I didnt get a chance to go round the course so had no idea what to expect.  Well I did.  This was the National Junior Championships, so it was never going to be easy.  I managed to stay with the main bunch and after a loop of about 14 or 15 miles we were back at Ampleforth Abbey.  We entered the Abbey grounds at the bottom of a long hill which looped up through the Abbey grounds and past the finish line.  This hill was going to sort out the men from the boys.

It would appear I might be a man!  Well I got to the top of the hill with everyone. My mistake being I should of pushed to the front of the group before we started the climb, that way I wouldnt be nearly off the back at the top.  I held on and we left the Abbey grounds and on to lap 2.

I then discovered I am still a boy.  I got dumped on the next hill.  I had pushed so hard trying to keep on the back of the group that when I caught up, I couldnt go with the next acceleration.  Lesson learned (and more training required).  As it was I dropped off the back of the bunch and was withdrawn from the race due to losing too much time.  Dad says it wasnt a wasted journey as I have learned a lot from it.  After the disappointment, I realise I was racing 18 year olds and with more training I will get stronger.

After my disappointment on Saturday, dad asked if I wanted to race in a Cyclocross Race in Gatesheeed (apparently thats how you say it) on Sunday.  I said yes of course.  On Sunday afternoon we went to Gateshead and I entered the Junior/Senior/Vet race.  There were about 40 or 50 people racing.  Even my dad participated.  Before the race started I had the usual BANTER with Rich Lewis about who has the fastest and best bike.

The race set off very quickly and I had to push flat out for the first few hundred metres.  I managed to get myself into third position.  I stayed in third for a full lap until a Derwentside rider came past on a long straight, slight uphill section.  I dug in deep and hung on to his back wheel for the next 30 mins and sensed he was weakening as the pace seemed to drop.  At this point I attacked, passed him, saw a slower rider ahead and passed him, just before a technical section. I knew that if he didnt get past the slower rider I would get a gap.  I managed to pull away and stay clear, claiming 3rd place overall.  The position felt better knowing I had beaten Simon Forster, who was one of the top seniors last season.  Dad got a puncture so didnt finish.  I had thrashed him by the time he had pulled out anyway.

Finally I raced today (26th July) in the Thornton Trophy Road Race.  My competition today included, Adam Wild and Paddy Clark from the Vags and part time Vag Tim Wilcock.  The circuit set off from Stamfordham over 3 laps totalling 60 miles. This included three ascents of the Ryals (woo hoo).

Lap 1 left Stamfordham in a neutral zone for about a mile at 20mph.  The flag dropped and the pace rose to 26 mph, the race was on.  There were several attacks before we got to the Ryals.  Before the race I had been advised by Tim and Austin Wilcock and my dad to sit in and watch what happens and not do anything silly.  The first time up the Ryals it was like a tornado had ripped through the peloton.  There were riders scattered all over the place.  A group of 40 to 50 riders from the 80 starters managed to stick together.  All the Vags were in the group (I had breached the Ryals like a salmon).

Lap 2 was pretty much the same as lap one, just a few more riders dropped on the Ryals.

Lap 3 was a different story.  We were approximately half way into the lap when a rider in front of Adam Wild appeared to clip a wheel and came down taking Adam and another rider down with him.  Like Stockton all over again, I put my "Peter Sagan" skills to the test and snaked in between the crashed riders.  Tim Wilcock and I lost about three seconds to the bunch, which doesnt sound much, but is a lot when descending at 30 mph.  We managed to catch back on to the back of the group to tackle the Ryals for the last time.  Thankfully everyone was saving themselves for the sprint, so the ride up was easier.  Once over the Ryals there was about about 4 miles to the finish.  The whole peleton split in to two, but unfortunately Tim and I were in the second group.

As we approached the finish the pace ramped up and the group got strung out with me sitting in about 17th or so with Tim in his usual position behind me :) I could just see him out the corner of my eye.  With 100m to go I launched my sprint and crossed the line 2 or three bike lengths ahead of Tim.  Payback for Stockton (1-1).  I think I finished in 13th or 14th place and was the first Junior across the line.

Paddy Clark came a very good 6th overall.  A shame Adam came off.  Thankfully he was at the race finish with what appeared to be road rash and no broken bones.  I hope the scrubbing brush in the shower doesnt hurt too much.  I heard rubbing salt into the wound works quite well. 

Next report the Vags 100 TT!