After a ferry journey, a fair bit of driving later by teammate Kev Foster, and one large hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, we rolled into the car park with a roof of bikes atop a Wightlink-LCM branded people carrier looking like a formidable force to be reckoned with!
After queuing for a fair old while to sign on, we pottered around the large car park doing a warm up and diving through a few corners. Races were running slightly late so we took the chance to quickly ditch some excess clothing under the hot weather and clear skies. After figuring out how to get onto the track I lined up on the start line with my two other teammates Matt Allsopp and Ian Hayden amongst approximately 60 other riders at 10 past 11.
This course featured chicanes which were new to me. I was expecting myself to be up against some steep learning curves going around these bends. These turned out to be a good spot of fun and I trusted my continental 4000s tyres to keep me upright within the group.
For the large majority of the race I sat roughly 2/3rds of the way back watching out for some unpredictable riders. The pace surged almost every time the peloton came out through a corner and I made sure I didn’t find myself falling too far back in the pack.
2 laps to go came and I knew it was time to get myself right up to the front to shelter my team mate, Matt. A rider went into Matt’s back wheel ripping some of his own spokes out, but fortunately they both stayed upright and Matt’s bike was alright so we pressed on towards the front of the group.
This was now the first time I had emerged out from a sea of riders onto the front where I could actually see where I was going. I soon had Ian behind me, with Matt on his wheel primed for the sprint. I made it to the top of the track and past the first chicane when I heard Ian shouting to me to ease off a bit after making a small gap from the group. Back together again I continued towards the second chicane when Ian took over. I slotted in behind him with Matt on my wheel prepared for another effort.
After a strong turn on the front after the last chicane on the course, Ian peeled off and I took over to lead out Matt to the finish. The peloton was lined out and I took Matt as far as I could towards the finish. Roughly a little over 200m away from the finish I saw to my right that other riders were launching their sprints. Matt read it well and came round me to jump onto the wheel of another rider sprinting. Leaving it to the last moment, keeping himself out of the oncoming headwind for as long as possible he jumped again to win the bunch sprint, taking an excellent 2nd overall over a 60 strong field of riders. I did not bother to contest the bunch sprint after a couple of hard efforts on the front so I span up to the finish line to then have a cool down lap.
On my way round I spoke to the guy I worked with in last week’s race. It turns out he attacked from lap 1 and stayed clear for the whole race to take 1st place… almost entirely by himself! Impressive riding by him.