Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The South West cycle racing season has begun in earnest, writes Andy Waite
February sees the traditional start to the cycle racing season in the South West.
Early events are seeing big increases in entry numbers, with the Mid Devon CC Springtime Pursuits attracting a field of 180 riders and the first time trial by Plymouth Corinthians attracting 65 riders.
This may well be down to the ‘Olympic effect’; the bottom line is that races are getting faster and harder every year!
The season started in earnest for four Dynamos at the Springtime Pursuits week one with Sam Birkinshaw and Mary MacFadzean, new to racing - lining up in the morning, with Laura Clode and Keith White together with Jamie Fabrizio in the afternoon. Clode - quite a dab hand at this sort of thing and following a good winter on the track, it was the start of her road season and for Birkinshaw and MacFadzean it was the start of their racing careers - and the Pursuits can be a bit of a baptism of fire - everyone is keen and perhaps not too adept at racing and bunch handling.
Not so these two youngsters - MacFadzean started in the first group - and what joy to see 24 plus ladies in a race of their own in Devon and she slotted in nicely doing her turns and pushing the pace - riders going out the back - when it came to the sprint she was there at the start of the hill. Sadly, she had had trouble with her gears earlier and so wasn’t up to a full on sprint - but finished nicely in 11th position. Birkinshaw did well - starting with three other juniors - and the eventual winner left them very quickly and headed off on his own never to be caught. The remaining three juniors sensibly allowed the group behind to catch them and they worked with them but to no avail. Pity for Birkinshaw that there was a crash in the melee after the last prime and he found himself with a wheel in front of him on the ground. He was slowed up but finished with just a dint in the knee. The Birkinshaw verdict of the racing was: ‘fantastic, I am pleased I didn’t blow up! I enjoyed it all - even strolling back after the crash. This first race has motivated me to train even harder and to focus on goals and improve positioning/tactics in next week’s race”.
MacFadzean said: “I was nervous before the start, but very pleased afterwards. It was great and I can’t wait for the next one.”
Laura Clode had the worst bit of luck managing to pick up a safety pin - of all things in her tyre and that was the end of her race – she’d been riding strongly in the bunch too!
White and Fabrizio are both old hands at this sort of event. White said: “It’s fantastic to be back after injury woes. I set of far too quick trying my older legs against the younger junior ones (that was never going to work), I dropped back to the group behind and settled in with them, my legs never really recovered although I stayed as long as I could I was never going to finish with the bunch and there’s always next week.” Fabrizio certainly looked comfortable in his group and finished well up when the race came together – he’s keen to get back next week.
Springtime Pursuits week two was clearly still very cold for these events - the morning found the ladies and junior event starting in near Arctic conditions - with riders wrapped up against the cold (and maybe the photographer too - with hats, face wraps and probably and sensibly layers of thermals!)
Birkinshaw and MacFadzean rode hard races and finished well up - both getting to grips with the bunch races and obviously learning all the time. Both doing their fair shares of work in their groups. Clode’s run of start of season bad luck continues as she was riding well when a rider hit her wheel, and as she got a wheel change the two groups merged and she was in no man’s land.
In the E,1,2,3 Jamie Fabrizio was full of determination and with large time gaps on the scratch group worked tirelessly and drove his group to catch the first group. This large pack continued to drive hard and stayed away - in the sprint Fabrizio managed a good sixth place, his first points on the licence for 2013.