Tough start to the season at Basingstoke for Tony Owen
by Tony Butler
With glorious conditions for cycle racing Tony Owen was Stratford’s sole representative in the Basingstoke 50 mile road race for veterans with the route covering five, ten mile laps over a triangular circuit which included a very sharp left hand bend, one long climb and a short sharp climb to the finish line.
This was Tony's first race of the season and was for 40 to 50 year olds and a year older, how would he fair against the younger riders?
There was a full field of 50 riders and as it was early season everyone was keen to make this a hard race from the off!.
Tony was pleased he had warmed up before the start so his legs were ready when the race started with a vengeance. In cycling terms the hammer went down from the start but Tony was prepared and his legs were ready to react. By the end of the first lap ten riders were already ejected from the race because of the fierce accelerations as repeated attacks were chased down.
The first two laps followed a pattern, lots of attacking racing but ultimately the bunch regrouped at the end of each lap due to the headwind on the hill to the finish.
On lap three two riders managed to gap the field on the long hill with another six riders attempting to bridge across. The bunch was working well with plenty of people sharing the pace at the front allowing the two groups to stay in sight of each other for the remainder of the race. Every time the bunch climbed the longer of the two hills it just became a single line because of the pace. Most riders were doing their best just to hold onto the wheel of the man in front of them. Each assent left a couple of riders behind with the rest wondering if they would still be there in another laps time “Everyone was suffering” - such is bike racing.
As The finish approached the chasing group of 6 riders were caught by the bunch who got to within 50 metres of the leaders, but the headwind made the difference and the group failed to catch the two riders out front who were well in sight as they crossed the line. Because the pace was so high the sprint did not really start until 70 metres from the finish. This meant the bunch was racing for third place. Other riders immediately counter attacked, but too early as they struggled into the wind. Tony was already flat out just getting up the hill but he caught five riders more because they were slowing down rather than him speeding up….The sprint really was in slow motion which gave the organisers plenty of time to record who finished where in the race.
Tony Finished 15th overhaul and 9th in the 45 + category