28/08/2011 - NORTH BUCKS RC ANDY HARDY MEMORIAL RACE REPORT
Location :TOWCESTER, NORTHANTS
The Andy Hardy Memorial Road Race
Promoted by North Bucks Road Club
EFGH event (5 laps) 35 miles. Weather initially overcast, cool north easterly wind, the sun coming out for the start and lasted during the event.
Many thanks to organiser Richard Selley and his team. Once again the event was up to the normal LVRC high standard, well organised and very well marshalled.
Travelling down to the race, alone for once, I set off in bright sunshine and was looking forward to a warm and dry event again. This optimism was soon dispelled as I ran into torrential rain the further south I travelled. However fortune smiled again as approaching Towcester the rain had eased and the clouds were lifting.
Riding to the start the weather now looked promising and I opted to ride without wet weather protection.
The start, as usual, was very fast with Don Parry leading the bunch into the long straight to Maidford, which was mainly into headwind. Not liking to start too fast I settled midway down the bunch and observed the usual flurry of early attacks and once inadvertently got involved with one. I decided there and then to conserve my energy for later. The first real attack came from Don, team colleague Martin Hackley and I believe Phil Etches on lap two. These three opened up a good gap and it looked decisive. Topping the Maidford climb, Chris Gunter decided to try and reduce the advantage and went into a ‘Cancellara’ style chase with me on his wheel and the remainder of the now depleted bunch in line behind. I was playing the ‘team mate’ card and sat on and no-one else being prepared to assist either. Chris continued his effort for about 3 miles and it succeeded in considerably reducing the gap to make it bridgeable. These final efforts coming on the finishing climb which nearly did for me, I was on the point of getting shelled when we turned into the headwind and the pace eased the group all together again. Further into this lap Don again attacked and was soon joined by Lance Ravenhill, the two going clear and seemingly riding smoothly together. The bunch allowed them freedom for a lap before once again trying to reel them in. On the long stretch to Maidford they were now within striking distance and Lance giving it best sat up, this must have given Don a new lease of life because he began pulling away again. This was assisted firstly by us all being almost squeezed off the road by a large articulated tanker and then by somebody puncturing, the loud report causing us all to hesitate and completely disrupting the chase. So to the final climb of Maidford and despite several attempts at escaping, the bunch contested the sprint for second place, Don being well clear. Phil Etches beating Martin Hackley to the line. As for myself I tried to get round fellow ‘G’ Ken Haddon to no avail, finishing a length down.
Reflecting on the race later we all agreed that it was a good hard race and without doubt the strongest rider on the day won.