After a bitterly cold winter and some extreme racing conditions in recent times, (particularly a certain race at Ilton airfield) the weather beaten gang of Graham Clarke, Paul Ferguson, Nick Skardon and Michael Young attended Castle Combe for a fitting day in the first round of the Summer Series.
Warmth, calm air and glorious sun – fantastic conditions. It all seemed too good to be true. Turning around to eyeball a seething mass of ~200 other cyclists indicated that we were soon to find out!
The race was 3/4 category and it was clear (due to numbers) the main focus would have to be on keeping ourselves and other riders safe; any thoughts of scoring points would be much lower priority today.
After a twitchy start, the peloton settled down and all of the VC Walcot riders were keeping good position moving up the pack when necessary.
Unfortunately 8 Laps in, Nick lost a spoke which took him out of the race with a buckled wheel, but was able to get out of the way safely and allowed the rest of the pack to proceed. This only left Nick to ponder which delicious beverage he would be dousing his frustration with later on.
Graham managed to put in a decent turn in on the front for a time before sensibly conserving his energy for what would almost certainly end in a sprint finish. A lot of riders were sitting on in the pack, so there was a general lack of impetus to build a strong breakaway.
Mike, Paul and Graham were mid-pack in the final 5 laps but the opportunity to move up appeared to quickly diminish, as the lead bunch jostled for position with fewer opportunities to move up. The last two laps saw a couple of nasty crashes: One on an early corner, taking out a number of riders and another two man collision on the final straight.
The remaining VC Walcot riders all comfortably crossed the line mid-field. The experiences of navigating such a large pack will certainly be put to good use on another day. Most importantly all finished safely and will be ready and willing at the next start line.
Paul Ferguson