Pete Biddle was the long time commissaire to the league (and to many other local races) he also served on the British Cycling West Midlands regional board. He was a familiar figure to those of us who have been around for a few years and the news of his sudden death just after Christmas last year came as a terrible shock to us all. His gentle pre-race briefings ('look after each other lads, it's not the World Championships') were always a welcome 'grace' before the pain began. Sadly missed. The last race of the league is now held in his honour and a trophy given to the winner in his name.
Pete was keen on the league developing rider's fitness and skills. Last evening's race developed me from being a functioning human being to a shambling hollow shell of man with the appearance of somebody who had taken up bear wrestling. However, this paled into insignificance next to a big young chap who'd entered his first (and possibly last) road race. He started off kinda blue skinned/raving ginger and with the heat and the amount of pollen in the air, he finished off looking like he'd eaten the wrong sweet during a visit to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. I swear his head had doubled in size and turned purple.
As usual, there was much riding around in large circles (a pattern is developing I know) much of it at speeds I could pretty much only hang on to including the traditional 40 mph descent past the golf club. It was during one of these 'The Gos' decided to stick it in the gutter on the wrong side of road and get to the front of the bunch. Unfortunately there was an enormous fully laden cattle lorry coming the other way. I was honestly terrified and feared for the worse as a collision would have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the lorry and put the animals at risk - it might have slowed Gos down a little too.
Following a brief interlude sitting behind a combine harvester (quite literally 'grass roots' cycling) Group 3 got hold of G2 after a couple of laps only to be joined shortly after by the combined G4 and scratch. Chasing Group 1 down has been getting harder all year and on the penultimate lap they still had a 1min 30 on the chasing group. The last 'ascent' of the A34 saw a number of riders shelled out and (it was getting kinda blurry by then) I think we made contact with G1 with half a lap to go.
The traditional bunch gallop ensued to be won by Matt Bonehill of Stafford Roads closely followed by Chris Allcott (Freds) Andy 'Tamps' Tamplin (Wrekinsport) and Adam Howells (Freds). Andy's first season of road racing has been a good one since he realised that riding around on your own with a power meter strapped to your forehead is no way to behave. Adam Howells has always been a classy rider and is just starting to show some of the form he's always had in him. Great stuff.
It was a great shame Ben Lawrence wasn't racing this evening because he would have definitely won (or crashed) this one (is that ok Ben?)
Penkridge Cricket Club did is proud again by hosting the end of series BBQ and this concluded another excellent year for the league. Rubbish weather? Yeah, definitely. Dampened spirits? Definitely not. Thanks to the organisors again (these things would happened without the Jacksons, Goring, Lines etc of this world) and thanks to the Asst Commisaires who are sharing the burden.
Looking forward to next year already.