The terms ‘brewery’ and ‘piss-up’ spring to mind. Though not necessarily in that order.
With the clock ticking down on my less than stellar racing season, and my plans for three races in four days (as reported on here last week) having been kyboshed by a flood of work in my day job, I decided on a final push this week to try to end on a high note.
My targets: last night’s Surrey League handicap race at Kitsmead Lane and today’s Dunsfold 4th Cat rip-up.
I raced a Kitsmead handicap earlier in the season and enjoyed the event enormously. It’s a good little circuit and one that frequently sees the lower ranked groups stay away from the scratch group of Elites, 1s and 2s.
This final visit to Kitsmead in 2011 was ‘organised’ by Charlotteville CC, who are also responsible for a highly popular town centre crit in Guildford. Upon arrival I could see that the warm summer’s evening had clearly attracted a good number of riders, many of whom were swarming around the signing in desk as I sorted the bike and headed out for a leg-loosening spin around the circuit.
A quick check of the start sheet showed several Elite level riders had shown up; you couldn’t miss the Wyndymillas in their frankly ridiculous pink kit (they’ve even got a bright pink van that looks like something from a children’s cartoon series), plus I spotted a rider from the Pendragon/Le Col/Colnago team on a beautiful Colnago M10 that I lusted after for longer than a poor man like me should have.
By start time there must have been 40-plus riders milling about. This was going to be fun. Except that it wasn’t. At 7.15pm precisely the commissaire blew his whistle and I expected to be called into the first group to be sent away. Instead he solemnly announced that the race was cancelled because nobody had thought to turn up with marshals’ flags or flashing lights for the commissaire’s car, so rider safety would be compromised if we went ahead.
What a bloody farce. I don’t blame the commissaire – these are public roads and with such a potentially big group of riders careering round it would have been highly dangerous. But the guys at Charlotteville CC need to take a good hard look at themselves this morning.
We got our entry money back but I was still out of pocket on petrol for a 100-mile wasted journey. And I was far from the worst off: my club mate Shane had driven at break-neck speed from Norwich – yes Norwich – to get there on time.
Still, at least I have managed one race since my last blog. Not that there’s too much to report from my outing at Goodwood last Sunday. An unspectacular 18th place was enlivened only by a bit of impromptu cyclo-cross as I had to take the grassy infield to avoid a crash. Luckily it was dry, but the success of my evasive action suggests that my alertness and bike handling have improved since the start of the season, even if my legs haven’t!
So now all roads lead to Dunsfold tonight. I can’t even begin to make predictions but I do know that I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. This feels like last orders at the bar; better make mine a double…