The British Cycling National Championships had arrived and with Hog Hill being CJ’s home circuit and hosts, the excitement was greater than usual as we watched the organisation coming to fruition. Things though were not going his way as a couple of weeks before the event, we found out that the normal under 10’s circuit was not going to be used and instead the shorter 0.5km circuit was the order of the day. I was now worried enough to send an e-mail to the organiser informing that the tight turn leading to the slalom climb would in our opinion be dangerous, especially with backmarkers being lapped and more so in the wet as the downhill to the corner is well over 25 mph.
Anyway, after a flurry of e-mails we were informed that ‘risk assessment’ had already been carried out and that the layout would be fine being sanctioned by British Cycling. Fast forward and on race morning the rain was steady enough to realise it would be a wet battle, but I decided not to worry about CJ’s safety until watching the first lap of the opening race and seeing a rider go down on the same corner…! Now with gridding based on your bib number, CJ was lucky to get on the first row and knew that the current National Youth Circuit Series points leader Ben Askey (Lichfield City CC) would push the pace immediately even in damp conditions and wanted to cover his possible escape if required.
From the drop Askey moved to distance himself but was soon pegged back by CJ and Arlo Carey (Palmer Park Velo) and it appeared that by the end of lap one the Lichfield racer would be content to run the race with the pack in tow. After five laps of the 20 minute race they were now hitting backmarkers but the lead group of approximately 10 of the 30+ riders were not really pushing the pace. Frustration set in with some of the watching parents as it was apparent that at least 5 racers could make a break, but each time any distance was made they would soon slow up and have the others re-attach themselves.
Eventually Tom Davies (Welwyn Wheelers) pushed hard to make either an escape or split the group but again the faster racers dawdled with a slight break and soon settled behind a lapped rider for two laps as a pace maker..! The constant under one minute laps with the climb appeared definitely to be taking effect and the racers who thought they were in for a chance were seemingly storing their reserves for the last lap after 19 climbs.
On the bell Askey moved into first position and CJ held his wheel as Davies held his… Now it was down to taking the slalom corner safely at lap record speed and coming out the other end that could determine the race. Smithson (Worxs Bikes) was out of a podium position spot and needed to make up ground and became a not seriously hurt victim of the dreaded corner as the podium placed racers held station up the alpine climb. CJ pushed hard for an overtake before rounding the last corner knowing that the victory was gone and quickly checked second place was in the bag before rolling over the line one second behind the winner who also took the fastest lap.
At last a podium place was his and with it a fine trophy from the organisers LVYCC with an envelope of cash, so he was happy with his endeavours and not being a casualty on the day.
Ciao for now…