Over ten days in June, one of the club's Espoirs Ollie Blagden managed to race his way to a Second category Racing Licence. Here is his account of the 3 races that took him to the 40 points, that are needed to gain the licence.
Ginger Smallwood, 12th June:
The weather was apocalyptic from the start, making the bunch soaked and go slowly round corners. Luckily everyone was sensible and there were no crashes on the corners- though there were crashes on the straight sections, unusually. I knew the dangers so kept up towards the front of the peleton for the whole thing. I didn't know the course at all, but just knew that the finish was up a hill; so I started to plan my race from word go. For the entire race I was keeping out of trouble and judging where I should be and when on the last lap. I was relatively fresh for the whole thing too, and saw who was good/bad on the hill. This allowed me to know who to watch out for and not be behind.
Coming into the last lap, there was a lot of surging and people started to show themselves and push forwards. In doing so, all the caution that riders took earlier on had vanished. At 2 miles to go, there was a crash just in front of me. I swerved to avoid it, ending up leaning into some riders. Luckily, we all stayed up, but now I was a lot further back than I wanted to be (around 10th wheel). I then pushed myself up and saw a gap on the outside. I checked it was clear and quickly got into the gap. Around the last corner, I snuck out of this space and surged forwards, round the outside. I was now about 4th wheel, but on no one's wheel at the bottom of the hill. It was clear to my right, so I decided to go early, and kicked out to the right so I would throw off any chasers. However, I moved straight into a patch of terrible road surface, and lost grip a few times. Even so, I was still going faster than the other riders. I kept pushing all the way to the line- winning by a couple of bike lengths.
Really happy to have won, especially in such terrible conditions. All the wet and mud was definitely worth it!
On a further note, the organisers (Kenton RC) had a lot of very nice words to say about the late Scott Paterson, who was a member of both our clubs. They were very pleased a Wycombe rider had won.
Ed: Members of the Club's facebook page can view a video of the final sprint and other videos earlier in this race using this link. These videos were recorded live and have not been edited, so contain some fruitful language. You have been warned!
BC West Thames 11, 14th June:
In this race, we had two Wycombe riders: James Walker, and myself. For the most part of the race I just kept in the middle or towards the front of the peleton- saving myself. Half way, I had to chase a break that a couple of VCL riders were trying to form. There were 3 VCL riders in the race. They were working together and I knew that I had to do something about it or they'd win. Other than that chase I was quite fresh. At 5 laps to go, someone broke away but no one chased other than some guys that swamped the front, but soon slowed down. This pushed my back to the middle of the bunch I knew I had to get up so worked my way to the right of the bunch. As I got there, James Walker rode past me so I jumped on his wheel. He brought us up to the front of the peleton, and stayed riding on the front with me second wheel. At 2 laps to go, a couple of people got restless and moved towards the front. I know that soon, we'd lose the position. I jumped out and full sprinted away, just after the rise. Looking behind me, I saw the peleton chasing me down, but I was at full speed (around 40mph) and going way fast than them. I soon slowed down however, so got aero and used my TT experience to push out a constant 30mph. I kept away so that at the last corner I had I nice lead. I eased up in the finishing straight, and just pushed on to the line. I heard the bunch sprinting behind me, but I knew they couldn't catch me in time. I raised my arms and crossed the line!
My second win in a week, I was over the moon! Massive thanks to James for keeping me in a good position to attack. Up the Wycombe!
BC West Thames 12, 21st June:
I came into this race, with feeling quite tired, after a couple of days of intensity training. However, once it got underway, I soon forgot all about that, and got into the mood of the race. This race was very aggressive from the start, with attacks on almost every lap. A lot of the attacking riders were very strong, and I knew that if I didn't chase, no one would. I must have chased down about 5 attacks, before 20 minutes! There was one particular rider, Arlen of RPR, that was very strong and attacking more than others. Half way, he attacked and was followed by me and a couple of Handsling riders. Looking behind, I saw that the peleton were chasing us down; but that didn't stop the other riders I was with trying to go. The peleton was staying about 20m behind us, and I knew that this break wasn't going to stay. I kept off the front and told the other break riders that I wasn't going to help (SORRY!). As I predicted, we got caught a lap later. After this, I chased down one more break and then just hid myself away in the bunch to regain my energy. I don't know when, but sometime when I was in the bunch, a group of 5 riders broke away (I think at about 5 laps to go). They were going way faster than the bunch and I knew that they were going to win it. At 3 laps to go, we couldn't even see them anymore. This is when I decided I had to bridge to them. I attacked off the front and kept a solid 32-33mph. I was slowly catching the break, and when I could see them again, I knew I was going to catch them. I ended up catching in the last lap. I was so tired from chasing them down, that I could hardly corner anymore. Going into the last bend, it was a battle between the 6 of us in the break. I was 5th rider in the chain and was the first to see the RPR rider attack. I tried to jump on his wheel, but didn't have that kick I needed. It was now a battle between the rest of us. I had jumped round to the left and was now at a reasonably high speed. Somehow I found a little bit of energy left and just put my head down and sprinted. I glanced ahead, to see the RPR rider celebrating his win. However, I looked right and saw that I was sprinting faster than the rest- I ended up 2nd place. After a huge effort to bridge the gap, I was amazed that I had anything left to sprint at the end.... but I did! And it was this effort that gave me 8 points, and enough to move up to 2nd Category!