45 Road Club

15/03/14 - Stu Travis at the Bowl...with Ian and Ollie

Phil Corley’s 'Day at the Races' – Milton Keynes Bowl – 15th March 2014
Ian "Pickle" Pateman 
The sun was shining, the skies were blue and anticipation was high for my first road race of the season. Also riding from 45RC was Ollie Bates and Stu Travis. A full field of 80 riders set out in an anti clockwise direction with the bottom gates open.
Things start as normal with the usual argy bargy from riders hell bent on getting to the first corner. The red ,white and blue train starts nice and steady each with our own race plan in our minds.
Then.... disaster for me! Bang!!!! rear blow out! race over without even completing a single lap!  Stu and Ollie continue on completely unaware of my misfortune. I then settle in as a spectator and 15 minutes later .... Where's Ollie?? Oh dear, there he is! bike on shoulder walking back to the car park! another puncture but this time a front wheel. So then there was one! Stu is looking strong and positioning himself at the front of the group in and around the top ten consistently lap after lap. My "commentators eye" said he would get sixth spot but Stu had different ideas! After a few turns on the front the bell sounded and all hell broke lose! A minute later the group came into view around the final corner and then Booooom! the sprint is on! Stu powered away and managed a superb 4th position just narrowly missing out on a podium. A very impressive performance from the new 45RC rider who has really put down a marker for the rest of us..

Images by Martin Knight

Stuart Travis
So, after what seemed like an eternity since my last race of 2013 and a bitter end to my first season, the time was here. A weekend of many firsts. My first race of the season, my first race for 45 Road Club, the first time I’d met some of my new team mates and the first time my girlfriend had come to watch me race. No pressure then.
Winter training, despite seeming an absolute chore at times, has gone really well so far and despite being part way through a block at the moment, I felt confident and fairly fresh. Ready for a good hard session. I knew being an early event, it would be a busy one, but given the extraordinarily glorious weather, my race (3/4 Cat) was massively subscribed and riders had to be turned away for entry on the day. The field capped at 80 riders! Looking around the car park, there seemed to be some fairly fit looking young men kicking around and some very fancy carbon fibre machinery. This knocked me off my stride somewhat and my earlier mentioned confidence dwindled slightly! Nerves started to rise! I did however find some strength in the smiling faces of my new found Team Mates; Ian Pateman and Ollie Bates. Realx…. Back up is here!!
After signing on and introducing my wonderful woman to the world of chamois cream, (she pulled my shorts open for me as I applied – true love!!)  I set out for a warm up. The course was being run anti-clockwise and I was quickly introduced to the outer section around the back of the bowl, which can only be described as ‘rough as a badgers….’. Gravel, sharp(ish) narrow turns, piles of leaves, kerbs and cobbles. A recipe for disaster if ever I’ve seen one.  Oh well!! I caught up with Ian and Ollie for a few laps, we gathered at the start. As it happens, right at the very back of a sea of helmets that seemed to stretch for miles! ‘A lot of work to do to get to the front here’ I thought. The usual spiel was given, gentle reminders regarding race ettiquette and the race distance. 1 hour plus 5 laps; Whistle blown, and we’re away. Simple as that.
As we soft-pedaled away for a pretty sedate start to a criterium, I gently moved my way up the field, catching brief glimpses of Ollie and Ian as I went. I wanted to be as close to the front of the group as possible as the field was so big, I wanted to be ahead of any potential melee!! From my recce on the warm up laps, I knew there were going to be a few bottlenecks and wanted to have a decent line and make sure I stayed upright!
First lap complete and as I started to move closer to the front, the pace had increased somewhat dramatically and it soon became clear that right from the off there was an attack at the front. 2 riders from Pro Cycle Hire UK Racing Team had gone away and built quite a lead. The pace continued to rise to try to chase them down and as we came around towards the end of the second lap, I could see a (now familiar) colour scheme in my peripheral vision carrying a bike. Sadly, Ian Pateman had to retire early due to a rear puncture.  (More to follow!). As a few laps rolled by, I’d found myself up the front of the group now, comfortably floating in the top 10, taking my turns on the front to try and reel in the breakaway.  By now, the 2 away had made an impressive 16 seconds on us.
A group of around 15-20 riders began to form a bit of a gap to the rest of the bunch and despite a lack of any organisation, we started to reduce the leaders advantage. It’s at this point that I caught sight of that familiar colour scheme again. This time Ollie Bates was walking up the sidelines having suffered the same plight as Ian. A puncture cutting the day short for him too. Around 30 minutes in, the break was caught. A fantastic (if slightly early) effort and they happily continued to pull hard on the front with the rest of the leading bunch to carry on driving the pace.
I had now started to relax. Nervy at the start and high on adrenaline, I felt I might have blown up with too much enthusiasm. Now having a team of supporters (4) cheering me on from the sidelines, I garnered a bit of enthusiasm and confidence and came to realise that I might actually have a chance at a top 10 the way things were going, despite my pre-race anxiety. Lap by lap fell away. Pace stayed high. Rotations at the front continued. A few small attacks were instantly countered and no-one went away after the initial break. Before I knew it, the hour was up and the 5 lap fury began. Bang. Pace increased again to what felt like furious levels and I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one feeling it as I looked around my fellow front runners to see some horrible faces being pulled. As is the norm however, it lasted 3 laps and the penultimate lap was more relaxed as everyone backed it off a notch ready for the final flurry. Round for the last time, bell ringing, heart pumping, pulse pounding in my ears. Pace stayed fairly moderate until we went around the back. Couple of miles-per-hour increase. Nothing drastic. I was sitting about 6th or 7th wheel. Round over the cobbles, pedal through the corner, through the gate and in to the final left hander, up the hill towards the line. As soon as we were through the gates, the pace climbed again. I sat in the wheel of the guy ahead of me as the front runners started to pull away. I felt they had gone too soon but I’d misjudged my timings. On to the drops to kick hard. As I did so, I accidentally caught my shift lever for my rear mech and as I started to jump, the chain dropped down a cog and I ended up in too big a gear!!!
Despite this, I powered on through and as the hill rose, I could see the finish banners. Caught 6th place in a heart beat. Passed him. 5th place man even quicker. Passed him and then 4th. Finish approaching fast, I thrust for the line and narrowly missed 3rd by about half a wheel.
4th Place. Result!!!
Extremely happy with that. 6 points on the board and some pennies for my winnings. Had I not misjudged my sprint and got the right gear, I may have got a podium. But I exceeded my top 10 aspiration, impressed the girlfriend and performed as required whilst representing my new team. For the season opener, I couldn’t have asked for any more. The race was won by James Sale of Pro Cycle Hire UK Racing. One of the 2 from the initial breakaway. His counterpart Tom Bicknell finished just ahead of me in 3rd. Strong riding from the pair.
That’s all from me, Nice to meet Ollie and Ian and better luck next time chaps. Next up, some NCRA Handicap racing in 2 weeks time. 
Stay beautiful 45 RC.
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