THE first race of the 2012 season saw Derrick Woodings travel down to the event with Andy Eagers (Derby Mercury), his erstwhile pacing partner from the GP de Gentlemen of last October (their last race on the road that year).
Andy rode the ‘Young man’s race’ (40-50 age groups). He incidentally rode back to Derby afterwards making a total mileage for the day of 130 miles after he had finished third in both the race and his age group!
Derrick had decided to make this event a fast training exercise, leaving his heavier wheels in, as the roads at this time of year are notorious after a winter of gritting. As it turned out though the sun was out and the temperature before the start was around 12C, and there was no road grit to speak of.
Riding out to the start about five miles into a steady breeze was comfortable but indicating that the first three miles of the six-mile circuit would be hard.
There were six laps for their event to cover over this undulating circuit with two reasonable climbs each lap. Their race was for the 55+ age groups and was going to be fast as far as he was concerned. On the first lap two riders went clear, Les Liddard (MI Racing) and Graham Sims(Stratford CC) who rapidly built up a useful lead which was never to be pulled back. Derrick was happy to sit in for the first three laps just getting used to the feeling of riding at racing speed again after five months.
Derrick was never under pressure, moving up on each of the climbs and then drifting back to the lantern rouge position. The Peloton by the start of lap five started to thin out so he decided to move up, but disaster was lurking in the form of a rather aggressive rider, no names here, pushed into the line on the headwind section just after turning left from the finish area.
Pete Ryalls (Sheffield) his main 70+ rival was forced off the road onto the grass which was extremely soft and muddy he came down right in front of him forcing him to brake. He managed to stop after hitting his wheel but held it upright. Pete meanwhile lay face up in a muddy bed which saved him from serious injury.
Derrick could have ridden on to regain the field but as is the convention in cycling he could not take advantage of an opponent’s misfortune so stopped to assist him. With the help of some spectators they got Pete up and finding he was OK, sorted out his bike, and then set off in pursuit but by now with no chance of regaining the peloton.
He decided to ride to the finish team time trial style with Pete and they rode over the line abreast. The race was won by Les Liddard from Graham Sims who finished well over one minute clear.
Mike Allen elected not ride this event but chose the North Midlands 18k circuit Time Trial near Blythe, North Notts on Saturday.
He rode a consistent race, finishing 13th. In the event where there were many younger riders than him and ending up second on standard with age taken into account.
All in all, an excellent start to the season for him too!