Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A view from Danny of the Thornton Challenge

Thornton 50.

Myself, Bob, Nick and Ian met outside my house at 8:30am which was about 100m from the start. We were surprised how cold it felt; at the start we decided it would be best to stick together a we knew Steve and Don would be teaming up. Myself and Bob led out through the home ground and waited for someone to jump off the front. As predicted this was John shortly followed by Andy.

We hit Kick hill and I gave it a little push up there to see how everyone was feeling, at the top I discussed with Don that the escapees were getting a bit too far ahead at such an early stage and was expecting a working together approach. Within seconds Don switched into time trial mode, so I just sat in and watched him eat the distance up over 1000m, it was a good effort by Don.

I sat in a good position near the front and got ready for the first sprint, in that I would try and launch Bob down the road. The wet roads were making me a bit twitchy having broken my wrist in similar conditions around 5 years ago. At the left turn in Aldington I took it cautiously and lost pace with Nick and Don and only re-grouped after the sprint.

Moving on I did a stretch into the wind down to Ruckinge and noticed it was windier than I thought. Rising out of Ruckinge another stint on the front which was followed by another attempted escape by John and Andy, which again was sucked up by Don. The left turn out off Ruckinge Don discussed with me about going to the front. Concerned about the wind I declined, however within 1km I gave it a long push up to the turn to Newchurch. Sitting now second I was a witness to a very well worked routine from Steve and Don, with Bob not playing albeit Nick was in the mix.

Across the marsh the pace fluctuated with Andy taking turns on the front creating a number of surges. With Knoll Hill approaching the pace slackened and Steve launched off the front with Don doing the same after we caught up. Don then shot off the front with the hill approaching, I went up to the front and chased up the first part of the climb, Nick took over the top and we were now pulling Don back unfortunately for us a car blocked the catch at the foot of the proper climb. I eased up and watched Nick chase with Richard following. I finally caught Don with 5m to the finish but he looked round at the right moment and was just ahead at the top.

The group had now thinned out at bit and with my sprinter Bob pulling out, I pulled up to Nick and Richard. At this point I felt very good and was ready to start moving. We ran across the marsh towards Lymne Hill. Don pushed the pace up on the approach and I just sat behind, at the base I went past him and smiled, his day was over. Nick then went to the front and I pushed along at a steady pace. With 50m to the top Rob and Andy came past me, I decided not to push thinking I would catch up along the top, big mistake.

Along the top I got to 50m of Andy but could not pull the distance back I looked behind and saw Richard around 100m back and found I was in no mans land. At the sharp left hander I took it easy having broken my wist there before and was surprised to see Dave picking himself off the floor from sliding off. I knew my only chance to regroup, was traffic in Hythe slowing them down, my prayers were answered when I saw the red light, but they sailed through!

Up Blackhouse Hill I again pulled Andy in to around 50m, with the top approaching I looked behind and noticed Steve (superman) was behind me so I put a real effort in over the closing 100m. Hitting the top I really went for it. I saw Andy at the roundabout who was now 100m ahead, I continued to push with Steve catching me 150m from the finish. I asked Steve where Don was, his response was "at the bottom of Lymne Hill". My only comfort being that Superman advising "he had worked very hard to catch me"; we rolled over the finish together and regrouped with the Nick, Andy and Rob and rode to the Grand together.

As for working together, apart from working with Nick pulling Don back it was not a team effort, albeit Nick did not need too much help! Myself and Bob felt very much turned over by Steve and Don.

It was a real good fun event and we should make it an annual feature, thanks Graham for your efforts and all others who were part of organising this event.