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Hillingdon Beyond Spring Crits (31st March)

This was the second race of the West Drayton Mountain Bike Club promoted three race series. Paul “Cipo” Morrissey, Andy Wright, Chris Hacking and Creighton Varney were entered in the Cat 4 men’s race with Charlotte Cockle, Becky Stanley and circuit racing debutants Juliet Milward and Jane Hunt entered in the E/1/2/3/4 women’s race. All the riders arrived at Hillingdon in good spirits, with both Juliet and Jane feeling some entirely understandable pre-race nerves.

Men’s race
Both the men’s Cat 4 race and the women’s race were on the track at the same time, with the commissaire sending the men off first. Following last week’s race in which Andy placed a creditable 13th and led off the front on the final turn, the men worked as a team in an effort to get someone into the top ten

The cold and, typically, windy conditions in the exposed track dictated the pace throughout the race. Particularly bunching was more frequent than last week, with the front riders stalling on the back straight. When this was combined with catching the backmarkers from the women’s race two riders, Craig Atwell (Cycle Club Basingstoke) in his third race and Ray Wilson (London Dynamo), managed to slip off the front unseen holding a 30 second lead for the final 20 mins! Craig was able to beat Ray in the sprint to cap his second place last week in the Thruxton circuits.

The following peloton remained together until just 3 laps remained with all four HWCC riders in contention. Cipo and Chris attacked at separate points before the wind took its toll and both were reeled in. Andy drove the pace at the front of the peloton and tried to make a break but nobody was prepared to take it on with him. This left Andy and Creighton to spent the last laps of the race mid pack looking to gain good a position for the final lap. On the bell Andy pushed to the front and again led the group around the final lap. Creighton followed with the peloton who were all now in a tight bunch, it was heading for a pure sprint to the line. Andy’s lead was several bike lengths onto the back straight but he paid the price for his gallantry and was caught by the bunch just metres from the line. Creighton’s sprint, although briefly blocked, secured a very creditable 8th spot, and two more valuable points. Chris and Cipo, again, took each other to the line and this time it was Chris who won bragging rights. What will the final race of the series bring?

Women’s race
The women’s event saw race newbies Jane and Juliet take to the field with the established duo of Becky and Charlotte. With a collection of experienced Juniors, 2nd, 3rd and 4th cats it was always destined to be a strong field and the initial pace saw the HWCC riders struggle to remain in touch. Two separate groups formed mid race which led to Jane and Juliet working together to get back on the peloton when it came through. Charlotte wasn’t feeling well and took the decision to retire, a wise move. Jane, Juliet and Becky circulated and although in contention managed to collect some valuable race miles. No doubt at all that all of these ladies will be back for more.

Congratulations to all.

Full results and the official race report on the British Cycling website.

Next week sees the final race of the series, with the Cat 4 men’s team racing for points. Surely this is the only team that people are trying to leave (by becoming Cat 3!)
Whilst this is a three race series for the men, unfortunately there was only the one race for the women.

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