I have watched the Cicle and the Junior Cicle many times and it is a race I had heard lots about from friends and club members who have raced it before, they all seemed to have excited tales to tell about it, so it is a race that I have hoped I would get the chance to take part in.
We are fortunate in the East Midlands that the Youth & Junior development committee enables young riders from clubs to come together to represent the region and to get the chance to take part in this and other National series road races. We were lucky to have Phil Maddocks as team manager, he took us all on a recce ride the weekend before, helped us prepare and allocated our parents places to be on the course that might help us.
So 120 Junior men lined up across Melton Mowbray high street to race for 106km on closed roads around Rutland, the twist being the course includes 6 sectors of off road – sections of farm track. Race Director, Dean Barnett, led us on a 3 km neutralised section to the top of the hill at Burton Lazars, at which point the flag was dropped and we were off.
Positioning going in to the off road sectors is really important because the chance of crashes or punctures is so high and you don’t want to get stuck behind some one else’s problems. But the pace was high, with attacks going off the front stretching the field and I was pleased to be in the front third through the first off road sector at Owston and on to the first passing of the 2km Sommerburg sector.
On the descent I was riding well and in a great position when I felt my rear wheel puncture; I rode on to the bottom of the sector where my Dad was with a set of spare wheels. My change was pretty good but even so the lead group had gone. The roads are only closed for a limited amount of time and so there are strict time cut offs for the race. Lots of other riders were also suffering with mechanicals, I joined a group of riders working to try to catch back and it was great to hear encouragement from club members who had come out to watch.
I made it back to Melton, one of only 58 finishers, disappointed to have punctured when I felt like I was going well but pleased to have made it to Melton. I really, really enjoyed the race and the course, hopefully I will get the chance to try again next year.
The Cicle is a fantastic event, many thanks to all the organisers and volunteers who put the race on and enable us to have this experience, especially so close to home.
Thanks Dom for a cracking report, and well done!
Photos by Jez Switzer