7th March 2015

After a winter of dark, wet, cold and countless hours of agony on turbo trainers, five members of SNCC, David Palmer, Dan Baxter, Dave Hennessy, Jacob Hennessy and Richard Ostler arrived at the Naseby Circuit on Saturday afternoon to find it lovely, warm, sunny and really windy.

We were one of the best represented teams off the line, but unfortunately due to a freak and accidental (no honestly!) sofa related injury, that I may, or may not have been partially responsible for, “The Tame Teenager”, Jacob was unable to race. Also present was Gareth Smith in a spectator’s capacity. My pre-race nerves had been at an all-time high from about 6:30am and the fact that the race didn’t start until 2:30pm really wasn’t helping the issue.

Weather was brilliant. It was so warm in fact that one member of the squad was overheard complaining that if he’d know he was going to be in shorts, that he’d have shaved his legs especially - honestly cyclists!

Once we’d all signed in, and in a typically well organised SNCC warm up, we scattered to the four winds and all bumped into each other in the holding area for a pre-race briefing, most of which was wasted on me as adrenaline by now had properly taken over, but someone did say something about femoral arteries and losing blood - oh brilliant!

As this was my first Road race, I went off with the 4th Cats, whilst the others all fell in with the 3rds. In a remarkably low key “Go on then” we were off, and immediately up into steady climb to the first turn.

Once we’d negotiated this we turned with the wind behind and the speed came up. The first lap came and went fairly uneventfully, with the exception of a heroic attempt at a long break by one rider and a loud shout followed by a horrible noise that I’d assume was a crash - no way was I going to look to find out. It soon became clear who was doing the work and who wasn’t, and I found myself doing more than my fair amount of turns at the front (which I’m sure will stun Bomber, Gary, Tim, Joe, John and those who regularly ride with me). A few attempts were made to get the group working together, these however proved fruitless and with the words of Mr Rinaldo ringing in my ears I decided to sit in and wait for the catch.

The 3rds made the catch about halfway around the second lap, and the pace shot up as both the juniors and the 3rds started to make themselves present at the front. The difference now was the attacks started coming regularly off the front as riders tried to break and catch the lone rider who’d made it off the front from the first lap, which they duly did in no time at all. All of SNCC were now as a group, with exception of the unfortunate Dan who was out after a mile and a bit, with a mis-functioning shifter mech.

As we crested the finish line hill for the second of the three, 9 mile laps the SNCC supporter (Jake) was almost beside himself with disinterest.

The race was progressing and it was starting to get a little tense as a fair amount of jostling was taking place, with no short measures of colourful language and a fair amount of bar banging. If you’ve never raced before one of the things you have to get used to VERY QUICKLY, is the proximity that you have to ride with the others, think of a club run and add about Two people between you and Five in front and behind you…… Its tight, and the marshalls cars beeping and shooting past all adds to the drama.

As we turned into the reasonably strong headwind the gurning started as Two juniors tore off the front and the pack tried again to sprint off after them. It was around here and after his efforts in chasing down my group Richard slipped out of the group leaving David and myself in the mixer. (Although I only discovered he was there at the end, as it’s a bit busy and sitting up and looking about didn’t seem like the greatest of plans.)

Those who know the circuit will be well aware, that the attacks come from the sharp left off the main road and up the hill, the pace by now was fairly rapid as the pack raced for the turn, as road position out of this is fairly important, and the front runners tried to open the taps and chase down the two-man break-away.

As we swept into the turn everyone grabbed the drops and sprinted up the short sharp hill. Heart rates were high (well mine bloody was) and everyone was blowing, but the pace didn’t drop as the race over the last 3–4 km began in earnest. The 1km sign is at the bottom of the hill and the sprint up this now tore off, I was sat in, but suspected I had picked a wrong wheel, to my right a familiar Blue WyndyMilla bike shot off and I managed to get out and try to follow David up the hill in the sprint as everyone stood up and went for it. David kept going - I didn’t, as I now went pop and everything started to suggest that I really should think about either slowing down or blacking out! David Finished an excellent 5th and I was to nick a couple more places to finish 13th just outside the points.

Our supporter now decided to show at least a little interest, and almost even looked up from his iphone (briefly!).

Next round is Old on the 14th, which geographically I accept is a way away, but it’d be great to see a few of you come along. “Our” round is on the 21st at Keysoe and the big guns will be out and showing their stuff and its brilliant to see our club has got a good head of racers that are out and competing. If you can, please come along and show your support. It really does help.

Yours in Sport

Dave “Christ, I’m at the front again” Hennessy