The annual Hull Thursday road race is always a source of fear and dread for anyone who isn’t a natural climber, on account of its six ascents of the sharp 115- metre climb out of North Newbald. It didn’t start well from my perspective, with a puncture on the way to the start, from which I was rescued by a good samaritan from Holme Valley Wheelers who gave me a lift to the village hall where track pumps awaited. Chapeau, therefore, to Holme Valley Wheelers, the home of decent folk who stop for you. And to Gary K for the track pump.
It turned out that flats were a big feature of the race, on account of the East Yorks’s usual deadly rain/flint combo, which saw many racers plodding disconsolately back to their cars along the dodgy back straight. (If they were proper hardmen they would have followed the example of Pete Fielding-Smith a couple of years ago and run to the finish in their socks). In fact I can probably ascribe a top-20 finish to the large number of riders who were punctured out of the race (and to the DNFs who fancied an early lunch).
Anyway as to the racing itself it was the usual Newbald circuit cycle – a brisk start, lots of chatting along the back straights then plenty of manoeuvring as weedier riders like me try to get to the front before the climb so they can slide back thru the bunch but still be with the group by the time the worst of the gradient is over. This worked first time out, in a hard ascent that shelled out a few riders. However on the next lap I got gapped shortly after Paul Rymer came breezing past like he was riding to the shops. Fortunately a grupetto of four riders formed and we kept the bunch tantalisingly in sight for a couple of laps, without actually getting closer. Then it was three of us, and by the penultimate lap we learned we were 21st-23rd…
When the BikePure rider in our group saw another shelled-out guy in front, he cranked up the pace to get a top 20 finish, dropping me and a Hull Thursday, so we 2-upped round the rest of the bell lap before I said goodbye on the final climb. By this time the rising number of DNFs had us 18th and 19th and that’s how it ended, probably 3 mins or so off the bunch. Very nice to be greeted by a VC Beverley crowd fresh from the club run, thanks lads!
I’ve no idea how things played out up front but big congrats to Paul R who got a superb 3rd (extra-impressive given he’s ill) with Sheffrec dominating the top positions. Droppy took 15th after sticking with the lead group for 5 out of six laps and Gary K came in shortly after me.
Goes without saying that it chucked it down properly at one point so we all looked properly Belgian at the end.