Tyre Issues

PDCC criterium
Smeaton Way, Rockingham
1 December 2013

The D grade regulars, looked relieved when I told then I was riding C grade.

I went into C grade with a simple aim in mind, stay in the front six riders or so, for as long as possible and not worry about a result. Which I did, until the second corner and my back wheel stepped out. Got round the corner and looked down, rear wheel puncture and on the wrong part of the course. Still had a little air in it, so I limped my way back to the start. But with no spare wheel, my race was over.

A new tube and asking nicely, had me lining up in D grade 30 minutes later. While I was the strongest rider in the race, there were 3 riders who would beat me in a straight up sprint. So I needed some tactics and in the absence of logic I decided to make the race as hard as possible for everybody and see what would happen.

At the end of the first lap I attacked up the straight, everybody chased back on, by the first corner, I came out of that hard, slowed a little, charged out the next corner, forcing a chase. Scott took over for the next few corners, then I put the pressure on up the straight again. Eased off on the back straight, so Simmo and Alan went to the front and rode tempo for a couple of laps. Until I attacked again, for a lap or two. As I rolled back to survey the damage I had caused, which was none, other than a lot of red faces and hard breathing. Dave P attacked, I dangled off the back for the length of the main straight, taking my time to get back on and hoping to make the attackers work harder. I don’t know if I suceded because I was back on by the next corner. Next lap a visiting rider from NDCC Jessica launched a well timed attack, Scot was quickly on her wheel and I was not far behind, we got a small gap, but Scot was unwilling to go to the front and for once I did not have the energy to spend.

The group caught use. However, I was pretty happy with the results, I was working hard, but Scott, Dave P and Simmo were also working hard chasing me and attacking. A little later, a sole B grade attacker came past. After dangling off the front of D grade for over a lap, I used him as a carrot, attacked and quickly caught him. Looked under my arm and saw two bunches chasing both B and D grades. So I dropped in behind and waited for D grade to regroup, as B grade went by and then promptly slowed. The next lap and half was the slowest of the race for D grade. B grade picked up the pace and so did I.

Until the next corner, when my back wheel stepped out. a quick check the tyre looked OK, but it did the same next corner. So I dropped to the back, decide that the tyre was holding up, so ride conservatively, don’t take any risks or ride up front in corners. If my rear tyre was going to give way, it could take me out but nobody else.

It was a pretty sedate pace, nobody was attacking until two laps to go. Then Jessica attacked on the back straight, Scott was quickly on here wheel as was Alan. Sitting at the back of the bunch, I expected Simmo to bridge the gap, but he didn’t, he was spent. None of the other riders, even attempted it, maybe they were waiting for me to do it. Except we had a couple of corners coming up. The bunch was slow through them and there was no way for me to get past. Got to the front and started chasing, my wheel stepped out again turning onto the front straight and I cut the distance in half.

With three working togetherit was going to be hard work to catch them, around the back of the course I did not gain any ground, I was still be conservative cornering, On to the straight, Scott was pulling away from Jessica, with Alan dropping back and looking catchable. When Phil, who had been sitting in the whole race and nobody said a word as he had open heart surgery less than ten weeks earlier, came flying past. I pushed on caught Alan for fourth , then promptly pulled off the circuit, expecting to find a badly deflated rear tyre. To my surprise the tyre was fully inflated, but the casing had started to deteriorate. Half the casing had a strange pattern on it.

While it was a couple of minor disasters for me today, flat in C grade, bad behaviour of my rear tyre in D grade. The D grade race reinforced my decision to race C grade and the need to stay close to the front as possible.

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