Chorley First Cycle Race Omnium
Chorley and Athletic and Triathlon Club and Chorley Cycling Club Juniors enjoyed their first Race Night on Wednesday (17th July). The evening took the form of a 4-event competition, the multi-event form of track cycling which has become famous in the UK since Laura gold at London 2012.
As Chorley is not (yet) blessed with its own , the racing took place on a grass track oval at Primary School, the venue for the clubs’ weekly junior coaching sessions. With a couple of members on holiday and some others having perhaps been put off by the rain earlier in the day, a field of 7 athletes took part. Special mention should go to Lauren here, who had come directly from representing Lancashire at the National Primary School Girls Cricket Finals in Harrogate.
Going was firm, despite the rain, though the surface was still pretty slick, testing the group’s bike-handling skills to the maximum and resulting in some impressively-controlled slides (Lydia), and a couple of spectacular crashes (Joseph).
After a few laps of practise to allow everyone to get used to the conditions, we got the racing underway with a timed Flying Lap. This was hotly contested with just 5 seconds covering the 5 fastest riders. Points were allocated based on the riders’ finishing positions, and the time gaps used to calculate the start intervals for the next event, a 5 lap handicap.
Credit to the coaches for a great job in calculating the handicaps (this may have been down to beginners luck!) as this race saw a nail-biting finish with 5 riders jostling for track position around the final bend and the coaches wishing that photo-finish equipment was available to them.
Following the endurance test of the 5 lap race, we moved onto a 1-lap individual pursuit, which was run on a knock out basis, after seeding the riders based on their flying lap finishing places. Due to the odd number of competitors, coaches Steve and Mark conceived a slightly unusual knock out format off the cuff. This seemed to work though neither were sure if they could explain how to repeat it again! Certainly we saw some more extremely close races as the riders progressed through the rounds.
Time for another long format race to finish off proceedings and the ever popular (with spectators, if not riders) Elimination Race, AKA The Devil. For those not familiar with this event, the Devil involves the field gradually being whittled down as the last rider to cross the finish line each lap is eliminated, leaving a final pair of survivors contesting a one lap sprint to the line.
Those who have seen this event at the elite level will know that there are always a few different tactical styles being employed by different riders, and this group was no exception. Lydia and Fin raced off into a 20 yard lead before proceeding to have a good old chat for a few laps while the rest of the field battled for survival behind them. Ellie and Lauren had a fine game of cat-and-mouse with each other which Lauren ultimately won. Joseph meanwhile was employing the Laura tactic of watching everything unfold from the back of the field and putting in a little sprint at the right point in each lap to keep himself in the race. Everybody thought this was going to result in a 3rd place finish as he seemed to be way too far behind the front 2 as he relegated Lauren to 4th. However with Lydia and Fin too busy watching each other in preparation for their final sprint, Joseph got the head down and ate up the yards in no time. Fin reacted to the crowd cheering Joseph, and started sprinting with a lap and a half to go. Lydia didn’t react so quickly and got caught out as Joseph found a much better line through the final bend, leaving her in 3rd place and setting off in pursuit of Fin. Joseph had now been sprinting for close on 2 laps but the lactic wasn’t kicking in quite yet as he flew round the penultimate turn. He still had ground to make up but nobody was ruling him out just yet. Until, on the exit of the turn, the bike started to slide to the right. He caught the slide at first, but then the back wheel slid the other way, the bike bucked, and he flew off in what motorbike racers call a “high-sider”.
It was a thrilling end to a great evening’s racing. Fin sat down and rolled over the line for first place before everyone rushed over to check Joseph was OK. No harm done to man or bike, and we all headed off for a gentle ride around Astley Park as a warm down.
Thanks to all the participants and if you missed out, don’t worry, we will definitely be doing this again before the clocks change in the autumn.
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