Race Report: Surrey League Kermesse - Don't Give Up!

When you turn up to a race and find out that the race before yours on the same circuit had 25 punctures, it doesn't bode well. When your race briefing includes a warning of a cattle grid on the course, and a warning of deer on the course, it rather adds to the trepidation. Oh, it was raining as well. 

Anyway, enough complaining, today Sambo and James came with me to the last of our Surrey League races in West Sussex.  It was an exciting one...

The course took us through a deer park, and some rough road surfaces, and was composed of 12 laps of the 3.5 mile circuit.

On the fourth lap I launched an attack, with Jimbo slowing the pace momentarily on the front, I kicked off the front. Bringing a bit of my mountain bike experience back into play I went on the worst section of road. The attack worked, two riders came with me and we were opening up a good gap on the main field. It was tough going, the course didn't give much let up, you were either holding on flying over the flinty rough road in the deer park, or pushing hard on the main road section. We held off the main field for five laps of the twelve lap course, but it wasn't to be. VC Meuden got themselves organised and painfully reeled us back in. I have to admit I was a bit gutted.

Just after we were caught, with four laps remaining, I became one of the many victims of a puncture on my front wheel (Sam got a puncture on the first lap, and by the end of the race a total of thirty riders became puncture victims!)

Jimbo was awesome, and as I put my hand up to pull off he came with me and gave me his front wheel. I was back on course within 45 seconds and chased relentlessly. Honestly I have never pushed as hard as I did to try and get back on in those remaining four laps, all I wanted to do was get a result for the team. Unfortunately I didn't manage it, I finished just 25 seconds behind the main field, who had ramped it up considerably in the last few laps.

Covered in mud, the three of us headed back to the car. I think I probably came in around 15th, the "main field" was so depleted by punctures that the 14 riders in front of me were all that was left. It wasn't quite how I wanted to finish my Surrey League races for the season, but hey it could have been worse. Perhaps I'll put some cyclocross tyres on next time...

N.B. I can't help but think that with the race being sponsored by South Downs Bikes, they might have provided a neutral service vehicle, so that at least some of the 30 puncture victims didn't have to walk back to the start. I'm grateful the race was put on, and apart from the surface, the course was actually quite good, but for the unlucky ones that punctured a few miles from the HQ (like Sam) it was a long walk home. Just a thought.
Before all the mayhem began...


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