Yesterday was round three of the North Yorkshire Evening Road Race League or NYERRL for short. This is an eight race series across North Yorkshire on a Thursday night organised by a lot of the local clubs. There are not only BC points at stake but also point towards the league itself which when collected over the course of the eight races lead to individual and team prizes. Therefore having won round one and missed round two I was keen to get into the mix and grab some more points in both categories. As with most races these days I was able to find the course on Strava and take a look at what to expect. In a nutshell that was going to be pain and suffering. The course is 11 miles long and about 800ft of climbing per lap which meant that over a 44 mile race we would be climbing 3,200ft. I told myself that wasn't too bad given some of the training I'd done already but knew plenty of strong riders would be lining up on the night. One particularly nasty climb is Bulmer Bank which although Strava says it averages 7% definitely has sections steeper as the 14% road signs would suggest. Reviewing the circuit I wasn't as worried about the climb as I was about the descent later in the circuit where the average descent speed was 40mph. I'm not the happiest person going flat out downhill but I'd have to be in the race.
Lining up at the start line we had nine people from my team and the organising club AlbaRosa and then six of the guys from FTR that I train with plus a few other familiar faces. This meant that for the first time this season both of the teams I spend most time with would finally be going head to head. I also noticed that series leader Matt from Prologue was there and this would be one man i'd want to watch just incase he tried to extend his lead any further.
Lap 1 - Another reasonably fast neutralised start ensued and we were rolling up and along to the first ascent of Bulmer Bank. FTR were sat on the front keeping a nice tempo and leading us along nicely whilst I sat mid-bunch. I remembered that there is a steep and narrowing descent into the climb and didn't want to be caught behind any crashes so pushed my way to the front, jumped out of the saddle and put on a bit more speed. I wanted to be down and climbing before anyone had the chance to get in my way and so did quite a few other people. The first ascent was reasonably steady and in all honesty so was the rest of the lap as we rolled around towards the start. The first major ascent was nearly 40mph and having being a bit too cautious until I knew the road slipped back and settled in the bunch for a while again. Julian from FTR made his trademark move and had a little dig off the front on the first lap to test the water but no-one seemed interested in joining him so he rejoined the bunch.
Lap 2 & 3 - Much of the same again really as we would press on through the false flat before Bulmer Bank in the hope of shelling a few more people before going reasonably steady up the climb and then rolling around the latter half of the circuit. As has become customary I stayed in the bunch keeping an eye on everyone I knew incase anything happened. During the course of these two laps our team was whittled down to five riders and FTR had there full six still, despite Joe being forced into a gutter on the climb and having to chase back on. At the end of lap three I looked back over my shoulder and there was nobody else there. We had about 30 people out of the initial 60 going into the last lap.
Lap 4 - Nobody seemed very keen to keep the pace high after team mate Jimmy came back off the front and so the bunch stuck together for much of the last lap. As it turned out one rider had gone solo off the front and had a healthy 40 second lead over the bunch. We didn't know this or for some reason no one chose to chase it down so this rider would go on to win the race. The rest of us would contest the other nine points places available. Swiftly moving down the outside with a mile to go I shouted at the guys from the team to get up there and hit the pace hard. Five of the team on the front to drill the pace in what must momentarily have looked like a pretty scary but extremely well disciplined sprint train until the pace suddenly slowed and we were engulfed. No problem, time to wheel surf and see what happens. Matt was back alongside me and pushing through the gaps now as people began to reel out their uphill sprint. Slightly boxed in I made the best possible attempt to nail it up the hill as hard as possible but finished just outside the points in 11th place.
Two FTR and one Alba in the top ten. Not a bad night for everyone on the whole and plenty of lessons to learn ahead of the next race. One things for sure though, despite the parcours and the 23mph average I felt comfortable all the way around so finally things are falling into place.