The third edition of the Rapha Cycling Club Road Race was held on Sunday, 20th August, and took place on the popular Strethall Circuit in Essex. Having been chosen to host the regional championships by British Cycling, the race attracted sixty riders and a host of volunteers willing to sacrifice their weekend to support the event. Below, Rapha Cycling Club member Gary Hibbert tells us his tale of the race from the view of lead car two.
Keeping the Pack in Check
The Rapha Cycling Club Road Race31 August 2017
Volunteering to drive in the race convoy seemed like a great opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Having stood at various vantage points around the course at last year’s race, taking a few pictures, I thought I’d give something back this year and volunteer to help. An appeal to join the support convoy seemed interesting. So I dragged my long-suffering wife, Valerie, out at the crack of dawn and we drove down to race HQ.
We took our position in the convoy and drove through the neutralised route to the start line. We were off quickly, keeping the required distance from lead car one. I had one eye in my rearview mirror, one on the commissaire car and an ear on the radio for instructions on our speed. It wasn't long before a group of riders decided they were up for some fun and made a break for it. Game on.
I was surprised at how tricky it was to keep the required distance in front. The guys would fly down the descents and make an immediate dash towards the shelter of my car. After a couple of laps, we got into the swing of things. The race began to heat up and the peloton split, with a chase group separated from the main group. The Chief Commissaire was doing a fantastic job of keeping things under control, the radio alive with information as the race developed.
The decision was taken for lead car two to let the chase group through. Unfortunately, by the time we found a suitable point to pull-over, the peloton had re-caught the chase group and we were suddenly surrounded by bikes. We had been briefed on this scenario, so we pulled over and took a lap out, picking up the peloton next time around. As the gap extended, the Commissaires decided to pull the second group with a lap to go, relieving us of our duties for the day. This meant we could watch WIGGINS rider Rhys Howells cross the line – a worthy winner.
There’s a lot of work behind the scenes that makes races such as this possible, and it was great to give something back to a sport that has given me so much pleasure.
We'd like to thank all of the volunteers who gave us their time this year. We'll be back in 2018 and would love as many people as possible to get involved.
You can register your interest to volunteer using the button below.