Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Round 9 - Henfolds Race

Sunday 22 July. The riders of the Tour de France wind themselves through the country lanes and towns on their way to an exciting finale on the streets of paris and the Champs-Élysées. Moving comfortably in that group of cyclists is the yellow jersey. For the first time in the tours history a brit. In just under one weeks time, he'll be climbing the zig zags of box hill.

Just south of Box Hill, down in the country lanes of Leigh another group of riders meet for round 9 of the London Women's cycle racing league. The race is a Surrey League open road race put on by Team Corridori. Summer appears to have arrived and temperatures are on the rise, by the time of the briefing 1.30 the sun is strong enough to create those cycle tan's so loved and laughed at in the cycling fraternity.

2pm vehicles and teams roll out, a neutral drive onto the start and then the race commences. Just over four laps of the Henfold's course, but this time the finish line will be on Mill Road just short of the A24. The pace is being driven along by a few strong riders including London Phoenix rider Astrid Wingler, a few attacks make an attempt to go off the front, some of the most aggressive from Emma Craddock (Southdown Bikes) and Corvida Allpress rider Elinor Winter, but the peloton stretches out holding on and things regroup.

Drama ensues as Kate Fisher of Pearson Cycles is taken out by a severe pot hole in the road, sadly another rider is caught out with her and we hope both are recovering well, its been a tough few weeks for the Pearson's Team, despite this they continue to be one of the most reliable and skilled teams in these races. The crash splits the bunch, but they chase hard to get back on with Coralie of the Pearsons team managing to make contact on the final lap.

Back to Lap 2 and the bunch, minus those caught up in the crash, is still together, then as the group rides up the Henfolds Hill, Astrid Wingler moves forward and Elise Sherwell (Look Mum No Hands) see's her opportunity and attacks along with Natalie Creswick of Mulebar. Jo Mcrae (Look Mum No Hands) and Clem Copie (High Wycombe CC) follow making a fast group, the peloton stretches out with fierce speeds as other teams and riders attempt to join the break. Eventually Emily Bagnall of Wyndy Milla, Uk Youth, manages to join and the final group of five is formed.

Despite the hard efforts and fatigue of the breakaway a moment of cheers is shared as they pass team mate Charlotte Easton of Look Mum No Hands, who in turns shouts back delighted encouragement.

Delia Beddis leads the chasing peloton and does her best to get the chase formed and focused. But the breakaway works together to keep their distance, all the riders are careful to ensure work is being done evenly until the final lap and the turn onto Mill road the finish drag. The breakaway slows down, aware they have a two minute gap to play with, tactics are recognisable to track cycling...slow speeds, eyes watching each other. Then, Natalie goes, Elise follows, hot on their heels Emily, they make it a 1,2,3 with Jo, shouting encouragement to her team mate and Clem coming in 4th and 5th.

A brief wait and the peloton comes steaming up to the finish line, Anna Grundy (Look Mum No Hands) and Elinor Winter (Corvida Allpress) battle to take the sprint for 6th, it was so tight results are pending. Emily roars delight to see team mate Kate Hewett coming in 9th. An exciting and fast race, chapeau to all those who rode and who did not get a mention in this report.

A huge thanks to the organisers who put on a great race and gave out generous prizes to the delighted top five. One for the diaries next year!

Kirdford Race Report: 15th July

Sunday July 15 another early morning, another race, but a good day...the sun has come out and the conditions are mostly good on the Kirdford Circuit.

In the car park all the familar faces that an LWCR race brings out and a few more beside, competitors start to warm up, chat and eat some of the calories that will be needed for the next two hours.

Brighton Mitre, the event organisers, have got their marshals ready, a briefing outlines the race, engines start up and move off, the peloton is driven in neutral onto the course...the lead car drops flag, moves off and the race starts. After days of rain, many riders realise they're not the only one in the peloton feeling cautious, but thanks to the calibre of the group pointing out hazards, the race soon gains confidence. Some riders not feeling a 100% hang at the back for a little while trying to get the race speeds up, a few riders including Maryka (Kingston Wheelers) and Astrid (London Phoenix) have started stretching things out. At this point some of the group make an effort to move forward in the hope they won't miss any breaks. 

Some will chase a break bringing it back into the peloton, this is seen as more negative riding, but often useful to anyone in the group not feeling strong enough to follow any breaks at that time. Some will allow a person to ride or attack off the front, then attempt to jump to them and form a break. The effect in an exciting race can be like leaping salmon.

Emma (Southdown Bikes) makes a successful attack and survives for the best part of the second lap, but no one is successful in jumping to her and with two laps to go she is reeled back in. 

Then Helen of LMNH goes...just like Emma she makes good ground and moves fast up the road, within no time she's a small figure in the distance. Wyndy Milla riders Ray and Catherine move forward, and team mate Emily keeping a low profile, rides off the front. Behind her Catherine and Ray riding calmly allow her to move into the distance whilst the rest of the peloton is either unaware or hoping someone else will make the chase.

The break of two takes almost a lap to form, but when it comes together its strong enough to hold off the main field. With two teams LMNH and WM uninterested in chasing, the loss of half the Pearsons team and the Kingston Wheelers due to crashes and mechanicals, the small break now has a very good chance of survival.

Many races are down to the last few secs but a breakaway can enjoy and suffer at length the hope that they may ride to the end of a race, an exciting and romantic feeling. Any cyclists that has found themselves in a breakaway is likely to try and try again to join one in future races, even at the loss of their potential energy reserves for the sprint finish.

The hill is in sight for the lead two, around the corner lies the finish line...Emily crests the hill first and finishes with arms in the air, Helen takes second, both riders hug and congratulate each other. Silence and calm for just over one minute...Then, the peloton comes streaming up the hill, powering towards the line, Lightning Lydia is unstoppable and takes third.  

Thursday, 19 July 2012

July News and Updates

Crystal Palace, RESCHEDULED for July 31

July 31 is our rescheduled Crystal Palace race date -- weather permitting. Should it be rained out, we will postpone til August 7, and if that's rained out we'll go with August 14 which is the final race at Palace for this season. Apologies that it will be in the middle of the Olympics (something we had hoped to avoid) but we think you'll agree that July is pretty full with races as it is, so we wanted to put it as close to August as possible. And given this summer's weather, we thought it would be best to pick a date that left us with some extra rainout dates.

Surrey League Road Races, July 22 and September 2

With a great turnout for our first road race of the season at the Southeast Regional Champs, the second road race with only 19 entries and the third with only 23 entries were somewhat disappointing. We're hoping to see a lot more of you at the final two road races and please be aware, low turnouts mean these races risk not being run next season. The Surrey League is happy to promote and support women's racing, but only if women promote and support -- and enter -- the races in return. Entries need to be higher to warrant the effort and money spent on organising them. So please show your support and sign up for the road races in advance on our calendar.

League Admin

Thanks to those who volunteered and marshalled at Crystal Palace on July 17, your effort is much appreciated!

League rankings are now up to date!

Next season year the LWCR will need some more help behind the scenes if the league is to continue running as it has -- Maryka will be stepping down, so it's time for some new faces to step up and take over. If you are thinking about getting more involved, let us know.

The LWCR team