Making hay in Autumn sun
Paceline RT riders enjoy a balmy September weekend with wins for Maryka in the national stripes at the Devon hill climb double header, Pat Wright in the Festival RC 10, Tom Whatley at Hillingdon, and second placed team in the aptly named a3crg Autumn Sunshine 10
For most Londoners a weekend in Devon in the Autumn is a chance to relax and enjoy the fabled cream teas. Not so for reigning National Hill Climb champion Maryka Sennema, who made the journey to Exeter and then Porlock on the weekend of 19-20 September for a hill climb double header.
On the Saturday Maryka raced to victory by 30 seconds in the Exeter Wheelers women’s race on the closed road Stoke Woods Hill course, her time of 5:14.6 putting her 22 out of 88 overall and only a minute behind the men’s winner and fellow national champion Dan Evans.
The following day Maryka and Evans made the trip north to the scenic north coast of Exmoor for another closed road hill climb – and similarly just one event in a larger hill climb ‘festival’, testifying to popularity of bike racing and in particular hill climbing in recent years – this time on Porlock Toll Road in the Minehead CC promotion.
Maryka once again proved the strongest in the women’s competition, taking the win in 17:50.6, while Evans succumbed to arch rival and two-times former winner Tejvan Pettinger in the men’s race.
“What a pleasure to ride a HC that’s so relatively long,” writes Maryka, “I really enjoyed the first half and only felt like I suffered in the last 5 min or so which was a pleasant change to suffering the whole thing right from the first minute! In retrospect I went out a bit easy and could have pushed harder in the first quarter but was wary of overdoing it and then dying into the headwind in the final quarter along the top. As it was I had a lot left for those final minutes and finished quite strongly so definitely could have paced it less conservatively. Really pleased with an all-time power PB for everything over 8 min. Definitely going back next year for another crack at it!”
Meanwhile, back in Surrey the knockout punch Pat Wright has been threatening to land all season was finally delivered at the Festival RC 10 on Saturday 19 September when he put time into Chris Nicholls of RPR and last year’s winner Chris Macnamara of Pedal Heaven to take victory in a scorching time of 20:10. The victory was all the more impressive as it was only the second time Pat had raced on a TT bike, having won the Farnborough 25 club event the week previously.
Pat’s victory and fast time on the course will have come as no surprise to competitors or teammates who have raced (or trained!) with Pat this year. This win follows on from some strong rides in sporting TTs earlier in the year where Pat claimed first place in the road bike category, further developing Pat’s reputation as a formidable baroudeur on Surrey’s rolling roads and grippy surfaces. Pat has driven countless winning breaks in road races only to be pipped by sprinters in the finale.
“When I got to the final roundabout with just over a quarter of the course to cover in about 14:30,” writes Pat. “I thought that a Sub-20 minute time might be on the cards. However, in spite of my best efforts I was unable to maintain enough speed over the final lumps in to the wind and crossed the line in 20:10.”
“I then made my way back to the race HQ and began the rather long wait for the other 70 odd competitors to complete their rides. I had planned to use this time to go for a gentle spin on my bike, but instead found myself chatting to other riders, drinking tea and working my way through the selection of cakes.”
“As the results came through, my time remained the quickest with the closest challenger being Chris Nichols in 20:25. I expected the scratch man and the previous year’s winner, Chris McNamara of Pedal Heaven, to post a good time and potentially dislodge me from first place. When his time came in as 20:28 I knew that I had won…and breathed a sigh of relief!”
“Overall, I was very pleased with my ride – in terms of my time, power and pacing. Time Trials are definitely something which I would like to get in to and are a nice change from the road racing which I am used to. Next on my agenda is to purchase my own TT bike and look to post some good results next season.”
Pat wasn’t the only Paceline stalwart showing strong late season form. Having won from a long range breakaway on the hilly Cutmill circuit the weekend previously an emboldened Tom Whatley once again took the race by the scruff of the neck in the 3/4 circuit race at Hillingdon on Saturday 19th, soloing off the front for 20 minutes to take his second win of the season.
“Things got off to a much faster start than last time I was here,” writes Tom, “with several attacking straight away. My legs weren’t feeling great, and so I was planning on waiting towards the end, for a late attack.
“After a couple of laps I got impatient though and started attacking as well. It was quite literally strong attack after strong attack, and I was making a point of attacking every time a different move was shut down to keep the pace high. It seemed fairly clear the bunch was tiring as the attacks seemed to stay away slightly longer each time, with the bunch really strung out for a lot of the race.”
“Eventually I countered another move coming out of the corners and immediately a decent gap opened up. I got my head down and drove the pace up the main straight, back through the corners, and after a lap alone I still had a decent gap, so cracked on. Eventually after a few laps I couldn’t see the group all the way down the main straight so it seemed like I had a good 30 seconds. After 4 laps on my own the 5 lap board came out. I Had a bit of a mental wobble with 4 to go as to whether I could really continue the effort, but was soon past it.”
“With 1 lap to go I was fairly sure the win would be mine as long as I kept upright, but I didn’t want to drop the pace in case. I rounded the last turn and on to the main straight still with the bunch out of sight. Approached the line and managed to get two arms in the air. Happy days. Hopefully someone took a picture of the finish this time too!”
Sadly no photographic evidence of Tom’s win has been found – he’ll just have to keep winning until someone eventually captures it!
Elsewhere other Paceline racers were similarly bouyed by the warm and still conditions, with Phil Ember notching up a new 10 mile PB of 20:12 in 12th place in the a3crg Autumn Sunshine 10 on the P881/10 on the Saturday and Keith Griffin’s season’s best performance of 21:35 securing Paceline RT second place in the team race.
One Paceline rider who was disappointed with his performances that weekend was Rob Sharland. Yet it is a testament to the uncompromisingly high standards he sets himself that his frustration comes from second place in the a3crg 10 on the Saturday, despite a new pb of 18:44 – a staggeringly quick time – and then second the following day in the Surrey League E/1/2/3 Handicap Championship, despite seeing off the challenge of a three man sprint train from Pedal Heaven, the region’s strongest amateur race team.
The title for Rob’s write up of the weekend’s racing is titled ‘2nd place – 1st loser’, which seems somewhat harsh given there are few racers nationwide who could hope to get those results in two very different disciplines on the same weekend. Yet at the same time that attitude also explains why Rob is one of the few racers capable of such feats.