Redhill's current race star, Matthew Ferguson, continued his quest for points at Hillingdon over two weekends, with different outcomes at each. Here is his write up of his experiences...
On Saturday 29th April & 6th May I competed at Hillingdon in the first two rounds of a series run by BIG events. Contrary to the name, the fields were fairly small, so it felt like a good opportunity to obtain some more points in my quest for a Cat 2 Licence.
However, the first week did not go to plan... After a slow start, a few people tried to get away, but with some strong winds it wasn't a suitable day for such endeavours. Having saved my energy sitting in the bunch I moved up in the last few laps preparing for the sprint finish. Having obtained a good position I was 'pushed' off the wheel in front with about 500m to go. I decided I better move forward or risk starting the sprint from the back of the group. When making this split second decision I had not considered the strong headwind on the finishing straight. As we entered the final straight I was 2nd wheel. The rider on the front blew up, swung off and left me on the front. I launched my sprint but didn't have the power to hold off the riders behind in a headwind 250m sprint and finished 24th.
After this disappointment, I was determined to make amends this weekend (7th May). The wind was stronger if anything and having started slowly it took some strong (possibly stupid) riders to get things going. No one was willing to drag anyone else along so attacking was the name of the game. The race was filled with riders attempting to cause splits by attacking off the front. Every time someone attacked the pace would rise and we would get strung out in one line. It was at these moments the race could be won or lost. It only took one weak rider losing the wheel and your race could be over. I managed to get on the right side of several splits, even causing a few, but the cooperation to keep it going wasn't there and they didn't succeed. In the end the group was whittled down to 12 of us who had the strength to follow the wheels and close gaps.
Just as in the previous week, the final straight had a headwind. Having experienced what happens if you launch too early into a headwind I sat at the back of the 12 riders. Unfortunately I left it a little too late this time and got boxed in. With 100m to go I managed to find a gap, launch my sprint, and overtake a few people who had launched there's too early. There was no catching the fastest guys though and I came across the line in 5th.
These two races have probably been the best and most relaxed I have taken part in and I would encourage anyone who is considering giving racing a go to try one of these, organised by BIG Events. The next two are at Hog Hill (13th) and Hillingdon (27th).