Matt Hallam and I (Chris Wilson) were racing again a few days later on the Hade Edge circuit near Holmfirth. The race was 12 laps of a 4 mile circuit, the first half of which was up hill and the second half down. The conditions weren’t ideal when we arrived HQ, there was a fine misty rain and strong, cold, westerly wind blowing – so in contrast to the race a few days earlier we were donning arm warmers and gilets when we rolled out on to the course for a recce.
After a couple of laps and the race briefing, we got underway. The race started immediately with the half-lap ascent which took us to the finish line. Straight away riders looked to be going backwards in the bunch as it strung out, before coming together again as we crossed the line for the first time.
The bunch mostly stayed together for the next couple of laps, before a handful of the stronger climbers took to the front and upped the pace on the ascent. That move split the bunch massively, with a group of around 18 riders staying together at the front, and then a quite few smaller groups made up of 2 or 3 riders following. Matt and myself unfortunately being on the wrong side of the split. I was one half of a group of two with a 3RT rider, and we had the front group in sight for a lap and a half before we then joined by Matt and 3 or 4 other riders. Matt appeared to be the stronger of his group, and the other riders seemed happy to allow him to do much of the work on the front. We briefly shared the work, going through and off to take turns, but that didn’t last long. After seeing another lap through I decided it was a lost cause and called it a day after 28 miles. Credit to Matt who stuck in there and completed the 50 miles!
The front group looked smaller and smaller each time I saw it come past. The eventual winner (a junior rider from Holmfirth Cycling Club) made a solo attack with one lap to go, winning by a clear margin. Looking at the photographs of the finish, the remainder of the top 10 looked to be quite spaced out as well, so it was clearly a tough final few laps.
Not a great outcome for us this time, but certainly an experience, and definitely a race to bear in mind for the future.