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 warm...as 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.