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Ras Ffordd Llandyrnog

Organised by the Ruthin CC on a rolling, triangular circuit near Ruthin and Denbigh, the weather was mild and dry but there was a strong headwind on the course, at the end of 4 laps there was a steady grind of a hill up to the finish. The race about 37 miles long. This promised a harder race than a lot of TLIs and so was more suited to me. The 5.30 out of bed for a 9.00am start suited me less so.

Before we started I was talking to Mike Bell & telling him I knew I was guilty of getting carried away early on in races & this time I was intending to sit in and let other people attack and work & I would be a lot more selective. Of course as soon as we started that all went out of the window and I started making little digs and following moves. The leg out to Denbigh had the strong headwind & I made loads of little soft and harder efforts and following others doing the same which kept on being brought back. After 1 jump Mike Bell came with me & we were chased down but I immediately went again & got 100 yards, I looked around waiting for someone to come over but no one did so I put my head down, after a minute looked around and still no one chasing or coming over, it wasn’t a huge surprise it was blinking hard in the headwind! I realised I had a good opportunity and got stuck in, trying to measure my effort.

There was some relative rest on the first part of the 2nd leg of the course; both a bit downhill and with a cross/tailwind but all too soon the stinging part of the course – a series of not massive but testing ramps which brought my speed right down.

In total I was away for about a lap and a half before the legs started to give up and I looked around to see the bunch just behind me so I sat up, got absorbed and hoped I could get some rest. There again were lots of attacks but nothing stuck with no one really seeming to want to commit in the hard wind.

Towards the end of the third lap a couple of riders got involved in a shouting match about racing/attacking/working and the bunch slowed down to listen. At this point Mark Hammersley attacked and I went after him, expecting to be chased as usual but we weren’t, the bunch seemed to be too busy listening to the little soap opera going on.

We quickly got a good gap & it was equally quickly apparent that Mark couldn’t or wouldn’t do a great deal of work. I put this down to him being in the older age category than me and not his Oscar winning acting. First or second is better than ending nowhere so i ploughed on, doing probably 70% of the work taking a little rest on Mark’s wheel when I was able. I could see behind that there were chasing riders and they were a good distance off but didn’t want to risk soft pedalling with Mark in case the chasers closed the gap.

When we got to the final few hundred yards of uphill I got Mark to come through & after several seconds he attacked which really surprised me, I had been mugged! I didn’t do a great job of following and by the line he had a couple of seconds over me. 2nd over the line, first in my category. Kudos to Mark for a very clever ride.

The next riders came through the best part of a minute afterwards and then others in 1s and 2s.

On the whole I was pleased with my effort, 15 miles off the front by myself and then 10  miles in a 2 up break was a really solid ride and bodes well for the races to come. I should of course have done a couple of things differently but you live and learn. Upwards and onwards!