If you can meet with triumph & disaster…

Of which the 2/3 Surrey League race in Lingfield had plenty today. Impeccable teamwork, exceptional displays of strength, yet lady luck just wasn’t on our side.

4.5 laps of a 14.5 mile circuit awaited us in picturesque surroundings under a glorious sun. The TCC contingent consisted of myself, Tinsley, McCarthy, Les & O’Rourke.

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Photo courtesy of Glyn Durrant, Surrey League

Things got off to a good start. After a solid 2 week training block and 48 hours of rest, I was elected as a the rider to keep safe to deliver to the line. Of course shortly after that was decided, Alex found himself in a break of three in the opening minutes of the race. Foolish to let a chance like that pass, the three of them drew out a lead of around 30 seconds, only to have their chances scuppered by a poorly positioned motorist. 8 seconds unclipped I understand, pretty annoying.

The race came back together, and all I can say is that the team worked like absolute machines. James slipped his chain in the first lap, but did his usual trick of chasing back on, and unfortunately Tim punctured shortly after and that was his race over. For most of the race, the remaining four of us held a TCC presence at the sharp end of the bunch. With a good scattering of Dynamo, Paragon and Meudon, nothing was given much of a chance to get away. Occasionally there would be a 3 or 4 that opened up a gap that started to look a bit dangerous. A quiet word with Alex and next thing I know him and James are drilling it at the front of the pack to bring the breaks back in. A success every time.

The bell went for the final lap, and the first few kicks were attacked by a few Dynamo riders and Mike Coyle quite hard. Still fresh I stuck with them just in case, but nothing got away. It was going to end in a bunch finish. This is exactly what we’d worked for. I still had everything left to give. I could feel it, we were going to win this one. All that stood in the way was a couple of miles of flat, followed by an uphill drag to the finish – an initial sharp kick, followed by a longer drag.

With about two miles to go before the left turn to the finish, I find Tinsely’s wheel and he sets a fast tempo on the front of the pack. The pressure of the situation raised my heart rate slightly, but that was brought under control soon enough. We turn left and reach the first kick and Alex buries himself and drags me up it. Holding such a forward position worked in our favour as the roads were littered with parked and waiting cars leaving only narrow gaps to pass through. The road levels out, two riders slowly move past us. Alex peels off with some words of encouragement and I’m left to finish the job that the boys have all worked so hard for. First place is currently 10m up the road, second place just a few wheel lengths in front. I start to pass second place on his right as we reach the crest of the drag, still with a touch left to open up on the final flat. As far as I was concerned that was it, I still had 10 or 15 seconds worth of power in my legs and the guy in the lead was going backwards.

Then I look up. I see a woman wildly waving a red flag, telling me to turn left. She’s the other side of the junction and it’s too late. I try to turn but instead find myself in a ditch on the far side of the road on the left. I pick myself up and drag myself to the finish for a solitary point. Absolutely gutting.

This left hander hadn’t been on the course so far – it had seemed logical that the finish line would be where the lap board was. General consensus from those I spoke to after was that this detour was generally poorly explained and marked. “The finish is after a left and up a short drag” could have descried the final section of the course just as well as this left turn. The marshal on the corner even told me that they expected everyone to know the course already.

Anyway, nothing that can be changed about that now. What we can take away from this is that we have an exceptionally strong team in the making, with tactics that, as far as I’m concerned, should see us winning these Surrey League races, and wining them regularly.

Well done all who raced today, you did TCC proud.

James Bradley

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