The BGF have given support to the Inspire VCUK Youth Racing Team based across the North West of England.

Reports and photos courtesy of Inspire Racing Team

Click on the link for full Team Report

 

National Youth Circuit Championship

 

10th July Redbridge Cycle Centre - London

The Youth A boys was the final event of the day and the weather cleared for the gruelling 90 minutes in hot conditions, cheered eagerly on by a very large group of spectators.

As expected the early pace was hard from the gun with a series of attacks and counter attacks. The most significant starting as a bunch of four and soon swelling to six, looked like it might hold as it contained one of the hot favourites, Lewis Askey.

These six riders worked well until a number of riders tried to escape the main peloton acting as a bridge and the break was brought back, due in no small part to a solid presence from the Isle of Man riders packing the front end of the peloton. Nothing then stuck until 35 minutes remained when Sean Flynn of Edinburgh RC struck out on his own.

With several climbs of the infamous Hoggenberg left in the race and a strengthening headwind, it seemed unlikely that Flynn could solo to victory but he was soon to be joined by Joshua Sandman and the two together instantly looked much more cohesive and likely to succeed.

They quickly opened what turned out to be a winning margin and though the peloton gradually clawed the break back the chase always looked fractious rather than controlled with several riders sitting in no-man’s land between break and peloton.

In the main bunch Askey & Tulett were doing large amounts of work in trying to close down reducing the gap before the two escapees finally managed to get over the climb for the final time, Flynn getting away on the final few metres of the hill to take the prestigious win.

Throughout the race both Lewis and Dan were confidently positioned near the front of the peloton and both had attempts at getting away in breaks at various times. They felt fortunate not to be involved in any of the late crashes, especially when considering the large field size of 120 riders. On the final effort up the hill and over the finish line Lewis rolled over in 21st place and Daniel in 29th. Both inside the top quarter of the field so very well done to both.

 

Phoenix CC Club 10mile TT - Rainford 7th June

This week we had Daniel Gibson riding in the Phoenix CC Club 10mile TT at Rainford. Guess who set off 1 minute behind Daniel? Well good old Sir Bradley Wiggins rocked up, unannounced, and rode the local event. It took Bradley around 5miles to catch Daniel and at the finish, Wiggins recorded 19:15 whilst Daniel posted a PB of 21:33 to finish 5th overall.

 

Lewis Hartley rode in the local Preston Evening Time Trial to record a PB (for this course) and a blistering time of 21:11.

Cory Edmondson, Nathan Hawthorn and Lewis all rode the Clitheroe Future Stars Town Centre Criterium last Friday. The race offered a tough ½ hr of riding involving a climb towards the castle and a fast technical descent with quite a few potholes on the circuit.

The lads all rode very well at the front of affairs throughout with Nathan, Cory and Lewis all finishing in the top 10 and just off the podium.

     


Dolan Series Race 3 - 16th April 2016

Last weekend the Inspire VCUK Racing Team travelled to Southport to compete in the North West Regional Circuit Race Championships.The race was 45 laps around Victoria Park, the longest race at Southport for some time.A cold morning greeted the riders for an early afternoon race with 34 riders taking to the grid.The team rode exceptionally well and showed themselves throughout. It was clear that our team was really the only team willing to take the race on. All the lads put down individual efforts to try and split the race and get riders up the road, only for the race to be neutralised by several other riders wanting to wait for a bunch finish. Daniel, Nathan and Lewis all rode solo efforts for several laps only to be reeled in by the IOM  grupetto. It was good to see team mates trying to control the bunch whilst VCUK riders were up the road. In the final corner of the last lap Nathan was forced onto the grass and had to settle for 15th place after a strong ride throughout. Lewis was disappointed only to take 6th having been sandwiched between riders in the sprint. Cory and Dan rolled home in 9th and 12th respectively.

 For full report please click link below.


Hetton-Le-Hole National Series - 17th April 2016

Sunday 17th April - two of the team travelled to Hetton-Le-Hole in the North East of England for the first National Series Youth Race.

 

    


2016 Youth Tour of Scotland - 1st April 2016

At the beginning of April, the Inspire VCUK Racing Team travelled to Perth in Scotland to participate in the best youth stage race in the UK – the Scottish Cycling Youth Tour of Scotland.

     


The Lewis Balyckyi GLASDON Crit Series 2016

The team is supporting the new race series that commenced on March 31st in memory of Lewis Balyckyi. The series is named in memory of Lewis who was tragically killed in a road traffic accident in 2011. Since then The Lewis Balyckyi Trust charity has been established by Kevin and Jacqui Balyckyi. There are 18 rounds and the series will finish at the end of July.
 
For further details please visit the following websites
 

http://balyckyicrits.org.uk/

 

http://www.lbtf.org/

 

Rhyll Team Time Trials 27th March 2016

 
Last Sunday the team assembled in Rhyl for a local criterium at Marsh Tracks.
This gave the team the chance to practice Team Time Trialling and they were instructed to ride the first six laps in this way.
The test was good and the results from the race are listed below where you will see we had 5 riders finishing in the top 10 – a brilliant result for the lads.
 
 
 
      

 

Belgium Weekend 22nd March 2016

 

       

 


 

Cannock Chase MTB CX Race and NLTTA Combined Clubs 10TT 11th March 2016

 

 

 


 

Team Training Camp 1st March 2016 Bodelwyddan North Wales

 


27th January 2016 NWCCA – Beacon Park – Round 13

 


14th January 2016 National Cyclocross Championships – Shrewsbury

 

 


28th December NWCCA – Round 12 – Macclesfield

 

 


18th December 2015 National Trophy – Round 5 – Bradford

 

 


Sunday the 6th December Northern Area Championships held at Heaton Park in Manchester

 

Congratulations to Lewis on becoming THE NORTHERN AREA CYCLO CROSS CHAMPION 2015/16

 


18th November 2015

By Martin Holden under Cyclocross

Round 10 of the NWCCA league was at the infamous Geoff Bewley Memorial CX hosted by Liverpool Century RC at Otterspool park, Liverpool a great setting on the banks of the river Mersey.

The day started off with a mist in the air and small showers which left the course very boggy in some places.

The whistle blew at 10:45 am with around 40 riders frantically clipping in and racing uphill towards the pits to enter the course for the remaining laps.

        

A group of early leaders formed containing two Inspire VCUK riders: Lewis Hartley and Cory Edmondson, alongside Sol Kerfoot-Robson and Isaac Peatfield.

Part way through the opening lap, as the riders entered the upper part of the course, Lewis lost his back wheel on a particularly slippery corner and then Isaac crashed over Lewis with Cory also struggling to get past. This enabled Sol to escape and forge a good lead on the rest who were in hot pursuit.

Lewis soon got back into the race with Cory and Isaac on his tail and by the time the riders had reached the pits on the 2nd lap, Lewis had caught Sol and overtaken the leader who subsequently retired from the race.

This left Isaac and Cory battling out the remaining laps for 2nd and 3rd places, with Nathan Hawthorn and Daniel Gibson not too far behind either.

       

Unfortunately, Tom Ashcroft, our fifth rider in this race had a very early mechanical which caused his rear derailleur to separate from the frame and his race was over almost as soon as it started!

In the end, Lewis took a convincing victory, with Isaac just taking 2nd place from Cory who finished 3rd to round off the podium.

Nathan finishing 35 seconds down on the leader in 4th and Dan Gibson, who had earlier crashed, finished 38 seconds down in 8th.

Another good day out for the Inspire VCUK Racing Team!

 


 
 
NWCCA – Round 9 – Cartmel
 

12th November 2015

Written by Martin Holden

 
On Saturday the Inspire VCUK Racing Team had Cory Edmondson and Nathan Hawthorn racing in Cartmel and it proved to be one of the wettest days of the season so far!
 
A great start to the race with Cory, Nathan and Isaac Peatfield (Bolton Hotwheels) making up an early leading group on a particularly short course for the youths that included long wet grassy sections that travelled downhill to some hurdles and then back up the hill through the woods.
 
 
Cory and Isaac broke away quite early leaving all the other riders in their wake and then took turns to lead the race.
Coming out of the woods on the second lap Cory failed to appear and Isaac was way out in front on his own. When Nathan passed the pits we then learned that Cory had suffered a mechanical and was being held up trying to free his jammed chain!
 
Eventually Cory came into sight but was out of contention for the win as Isaac had now built a considerable lead ahead of Nathan and Tyler Koch.
 
Lap by lap and bunny hopping the hurdles Cory was putting In a fantastic fight back whilst Nathan putting down an excellent performance to maintain his 2nd position.
In the end, it was Isaac Peatfield that deservedly took the win, followed by a fantastic 2nd place for our own Nathan Hawthorn, with Tyler Koch rounding out the podium in 3rd place.
 
          

A disappointed Cory rolled home in 4th but lived to fight another day! 


National Trophy – Round 3 – Durham

12th November 2015

Written by Martin Holden

On Sunday the riders faced a particularly muddy course as the venue at Durham had been used the previous day for a regional event.

The National Trophy youth race kicked off at mid-day with close to 50 top class youth A riders in the event. Cory set off a couple of rows back having gained points in earlier rounds. Lewis set off at the very back of the field having not participated in the series so far.

   

Once the whistle had been blown the riders accelerated away along a flat grassy strip next to the river. Lewis clipped in quick and was able to make good progress through the field before being held up a little on the tough muddy and claggy top section around the pits.

After a couple of laps Lewis was lying in 15th place, some way behind the leader Euan Cameran but closing on Matt Taylor and Oliver Draffon. After getting right up to Matt, Lewis took a pit change and then Matt took off and again leaving Lewis quite a bit of work to do to catch up.

Meanwhile Cory was struggling with the conditions and whilst he started the race OK, he seemed to be drifting back as the laps passed. Cory does not thrive in the mud and this was not his best display but no doubt we will see improvements at this tough level of racing as the season continues.

        

In the end Lewis finished a commendable 12th and at National level, this is a good result, especially when you start at the back. Some of the muddy sections also need a certain amount of brute force which Lewis is currently lacking. Cory eventually finished 28th.

Another good weekend for learning how to ride CX bikes fast!


 

NWCCA – Round 7 – Northwich

27th October 2015

Written by Martin Holden

The day began very wet, with the first muddy course beckoning.

For RD7 the Inspire VCUK Racing Team had Cory Edmondson, Nathan Hawthorn and Daniel Gibson on the starting grid.

The Edmondson family only made the race with minuets to spare after “vehicle issues” so no time to try the course or even warm up for young Cory!

The race started with 29 riders and a very fast start commenced with Cory in the lead, but the race came to an abrupt stand still minutes later after it was noticed that the course had not been marked out properly!


A while later (20 mins or so) and feeling rather chilly from being held up, the riders finally got going and again a very good start from Cory who once again led the race with Isaac Peatfield on his wheel.

The course was wet and muddy in the true style of a winter CX racing with lots of single track woodland and then open fields.

Cory and Isaac opened a large gap on the rest of the riders but Cory was unable to despatch Isaac who seemed very strong today. Cory rode most of the race with Isaac on his wheel but did force him on to the front towards the end of the race.

In the final straight, Cory then took the lead before entering the technical finish area and was able to cross the line for first place, his first victory of the season!

Having a great race himself was Daniel, who battled hard all day to cross the line in 3rd place, his highest finish ever in a CX race – brilliant.

 


National Trophy – Round 2 Derby 

27th October 2015

Written by Martin Holden

 

A contrast from the previous day with the sun shining but a little chilly from the clear sky at night.

Cory Edmondson was the only VCUK rider to travel to Derby for the second round of the national trophy.

The course was relatively dry which is rather unusual and unexpected for the Derby venue.

 

Around sixty national level riders were gridded and once the whistle sounded they pelted down the tarmac at high speed before hitting the green stuff.

Cory had a great start and was placed around 10th.

Ben Tulett took the early lead after bunny hopping the hurdles and immediately opening up a significant gap from Lewis Askey and Toby Barnes.

Euan Cameron was looking strong and chased the leaders throughout the race but never really threatened the top three.

Ben Healy, Jenson Young and Craig Rogers were a few of the riders that followed close behind.

A group with Charlie Craig and Matty Taylor were just ahead of Cory and at one point it looked as if he would join up but he never quite managed to bridge across.

The course became quite slippery with off-camber sections and rideable steps but only a handful of riders manged to negotiate the steps.

 


NWCCA – Landgate and Moss Quarries – Rossendale RC

Written by Martin Holden October 13th 2015

On Sunday the 11th of October, three of the team travelled to East Lancashire for Round Three of the North West Cyclo Cross Association League.

For this event the Inspire VCUK Racing Team were represented by Daniel Gibson, Nathan Hawthorn and Lewis Hartley. The venue is literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by quarries (and gypsies) on the top of an exposed moor.

The dry weather has continued through into October and so the ground was again bone dry. The day started cold with a slight wind chill making it feel particularly autumnal high on the moor. The moderate field of 33 riders took to the grid and set off for the 30 minute race at 10:50am.

From the gun Charlie Craig looked to be on good form, joined by Lewis Hartley for the first couple of laps. Lewis was keeping up OK but wasn’t looking as good as previous weeks to be fair.

Whilst negotiating an off-camber, Lewis’s rear wheel slipped out and his chain shipped off the cassette. This mechanical issue cost Lewis a significant gap to Charlie as he struggled to unjam the chain from between the cassette and frame. By the time he got going, it was game over in terms of contesting the win but that was far from guaranteed anyway looking at the pace Charlie was setting at the front of the race!

Nathan and Daniel settled into the race quickly and looked comfortable riding in 4th and 5th positions. In between was Isaac Peatfield, trying to stay with Lewis, and riding very well.

     

As the race came to a close, Charlie had gained a good half lap on the riders behind and took the win with ease. Lewis also rode home solo in 2nd place although he still maintained his 100% record for the league points! 


National Trophy – Round 1 – Southampton

Written Martin Holden October 13th 2015

The first round of the National Trophy took place on Sunday 11th October on the South Coast of England in Southampton.

Cory Edmondson travelled to the event as the only Inspire VCUK representative. The report that came back noted a fantastic venue and super weather…so worth the long journey.

As you would expect, the U16 boys race started very fast with Cory getting away safely with eventual winner Toby Barnes and former national champion Euan Cameron. Other strong riders joined the leading group soon after, including Ben Tulett and Lewis Askey.

As the race progressed the front group fractured up one of the short ascents and around eight riders, including Craig Rogers, Soloman Kerfoot-Robson and  Euan Cameron formed a new leading group with Cory not far behind in a second group.

At the mid-point of the race, Cory was lying in 16th position but as the race began to settle down he took the initiative to move up and by the time he reached the chequered flag Cory had managed to move up 3 places to finish in a commendable 13th place. The winner was Toby Barnes, followed by team mate Lewis Askey in 2nd place and Ben Tulett in 3rd.

     


NWCCA – Westmorland Showground – Round 4

Written by Martin Holden 8th October 2015

This weekend provided the first double header of the season with the boys riding on Saturday at Heaton Park in RD3, followed by races in the South Lakes at the Westmorland Showground on Sunday (RD4).

This is the first time the venue has been used by the NWCCA and on reflection it was just perfect…in fact, it was that good that we will be recommending it for future Trophy events. There was ample parking, changing facilities, and superb terrain for making a real spectacle in CX racing.

Nathan, Cory and Lewis were joined by around thirty youth riders who assembled at the entrance to the park to begin their race. An air horn was used to signal the start on a gravel track that passed through the finish area before veering off uphill and on to the green stuff.

Cory sprinted off the line once the race was underway, full of rage from the previous day, and pulled away immediately with Lewis and Nathan at his side. These three then proceeded to grow their lead through the initial stages of the race.

On the bottom of one of the descents, Lewis entered the corner at full pelt with Cory and Nathan on his wheel. Cory later remarked that Lewis rode into the corner way too fast and when he tried to follow he ended up in the tape with Nathan – that’s racing I suppose – who dares wins!

None of the Inspire VCUK riders were at their best to be truthful…having picked up sore throats in the week and suffering with the early stages of a cold. So to be in the lead and dominant in their second race of the weekend was impressive.

   

By the time the riders were on their final lap, Lewis had gained an unassailable lead, lapping most of the field, whilst Cory and Nathan were battling it out for the 2nd place. Unfortunately Nathan punctured just before the pits and was forced on to a mountain bike, thereby having to settle for third.


NWCCA – Heaton Park, Manchester – Round 3

Written by Martin Holden 8th October 2015

On Saturday the 3rd October, the team assembled in Heaton Park for Round Three of the North West Cyclo Cross Association League. This venue is on the edge of Manchester and offers a very large expanse of Victorian greenbelt ideal for this type of racing. The venue will also be used later in the season for the North of England Championship but no doubt more rain will have fallen by then!

The day began quite foggy, cold and damp with signs of Autumn certainly on show. The riders went through their usual warm-up ritual and then assembled on the start line at 10:45am for a 30 minute race.

    

On paper, the field looked reasonably strong with the attendance of Olympic Apprentices Craig Rogers and Soloman-Kerfoot Robson, alongside Matty Taylor from PH-MAS Cycling (winner of several Yorkshire points races this season) and Charlie Craig, a talented 1st year A and son of Nick Craig, the prolific national title holder and Scott Ambassador.

From the Inspire VCUK Race Team we had Lewis Hartley (winner of Rounds 1 & 2) alongside Cory Edmondson, Nathan Hawthorn and Daniel Gibson.

By all accounts, the race set off very fast and up a slight rise before heading to an off-camber / tree section ending with a set of steps. As the riders approached the steps, Lewis was able to move up to the front of the pack and then began the application of pressure to those behind. Just before the steps there was a small catastrophe for Cory when his chain snapped. This required a short run to the pits in order to swap bikes before he could re-join the proceedings some way behind the leaders.

Meanwhile, a strong leading group of five riders was setting the pace as they appeared in sight over a small summit in the distant mist. This summit was just after some hurdles which Lewis was able to bunny-hop and gain time on his rivals. The group re-formed on the descent but this kind of pressure is always helpful.

Mid-way through the race an incident occurred where Craig Rogers lost some grip on a damp grassy corner. Craig slid into Matty Taylor and both had problems getting going as their bikes became tangled. Sol, Lewis and Charlie carried on regardless and this was the point when the race was lit up. Lewis attacked just after the hurdles and managed to gain a considerable gap on his rivals over a very short space of time and then continued at full gas for a good lap to cement his lead in the race.

      

Not far behind the action was Nathan Hawthorn and Dan Gibson, both riding exceptionally well for the VCUK, riding as a pair for 5th and 6th position. After the earlier collision Craig Rogers was now riding in 7th position.


Great Orme Road Race September 27th, 2015

Following the trip to Southport on Saturday, the team packed things up and travelled straight down to Llandudno, in North Wales, for the infamous Great Orme Road Races on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately Luke Cheetham was unable to travel on as he was feeling the effects of a cold and decided it would be better to rest up.
We arrived in Llandudno late afternoon with glorious weather that was forecast for several days ahead! After checking in at the hostel, it was decided to take a road trip around the Great Orme circuit so that all the riders could familiarise themselves for the following morning.
It was an early start on Sunday as the racing started at 9am. After signing on the riders rode along the promenade to the bottom of the Great Orme road where they then began their 20minute traditional warm up on the rollers, making sure their legs and lungs were ready for the race ahead.
Tom Ashcroft decided to ride up in this event using his dispensation from B to A category. This enabled the Inspire VCUK Racing Team to have six riders in the race: Halley Woods, Dan Gibson, Lewis Hartley, Cory Edmondson, Nathan Hawthorn, and Tom.

Around forty riders started the Youth A race which entailed 3 laps of the six kilometre Marine Drive cliff edge circuit. The race started at the bottom of the climb near the Grand Hotel and after around 3km reached the highest point on the circuit which was then followed by a 2km fast descent and 1km flat section to reach the end of 1 lap.

The first part of the climb was neutralised (not sure why) but once the flag dropped the pace ramped up and attacks commenced. Devon Round was one rider from MSW who really put the power down going up the steepest sections of the climb.

As the peloton passed the finish line after lap 1, Lewis and Halley were comfortable at the head of the fractured bunch with Dan also in the same group. A little further back in separate groups was Cory, then Nathan and then Tom. To be fair, Cory and Nathan had both experienced some mechanical issues and were doing very well considering. It was also great to see Tom, the youngest rider in the race, battling up the climb against much older and more experienced riders.

On the final lap, Lewis was leading the riders up the climb setting a fast pace and looking very comfortable as riders continued to get shelled out the back. There were several riders, including the eventual winner, who were actually dropped up the climb but managed to re-attach on the descent.

   

The finish is a frantic one, as the riders pass the Grand Hotel the course dips slightly before rising for around 200 metres before reaching the timing mat. The race speed was over 30mph as the riders began their sprint for the line. It was Jack Ford from Holmfirth CC who took the win followed closely by Brad Dransfield from the Kirklees Academy and then Huw Owen from Energy Cycles in third. In the same group was Halley Woods in 6th and Lewis who was pipped into 8th, both very commendable results for 1st year riders.
Dan, Cory, Nathan and Tom rolled over from 15th to 27th place, each having their own stories to tell!
 


North West Youth League – Round 6  September 26th


The whole team gathered at Victoria Park in Southport for the 6thand final round of the North West Youth league. Beautiful sunny weather greeted the riders and this is how it would stay for the remainder of the day.
As with all the previous rounds of the youth league, there was to be 2 races, a shorter ‘sprint’ race and the longer race.
Tom Ashcroft was the first up to represent the team in the short race for Youth B boys. In a 4 lap race that saw the bunch stay together from beginning to end, it came down to a sprint finish, with Tom finishing in 4th place.

      

The short 5 lap race for the youth A boys saw new team riders, Cory Edmondson and Nathan Hawthorn making their debut alongside the current team of Lewis Hartley, Dan Gibson, Halley Woods and Luke Cheetham. As in the previous race, the bunch set off together. After 1 lap Dan and Nathan attempted a break but were soon brought back to the bunch. This is how it would remain until the bell lap, when, with 3 corners to go, Halley and Nathan broke free from the bunch, which was then expertly controlled by Lewis, Cory, Dan and Luke to allow the two at the front to get a gap. Nathan took the win for the team, with Halley a very close 2nd. In the bunch sprint, Cory was 4th, Dan 6th, Luke 9th and Lewis 11th. A fantastic and well worked team race.

After lunch came the longer races. Tom Ashcroft was up first again in the 15 laps race for Youth B boys. As in the shorter race the bunch set off together, and it stayed this way until lap 8, when Isaac Peatfield of Bolton Hotwheels broke away. The bunch looked happy to let him go, until Tom decided it was time to chase down this solo attack, which resulted in Isaac being swallowed back up into the bunch. With 3 laps to go, Isaac got away once again, and he held this all the way to the finish line. Tom put in a great sprint to lead the main bunch over the line and claim an excellent 2nd place.


The long race for the Youth A boys would see them undertake 25 laps of the course. The majority of this race involved the bunch remaining together, with only one solo attack from Elliot Reed of Salt Ayre occurring on lap 2, but he would be quickly brought back to the bunch. It would stay like this all the way to the bell lap, which could only mean one thing – a bunch sprint finish. In a fast and furious sprint for the line, Huw Owen from Energy Cycles took the win, with Nathan taking 2nd for team. Halley was 4th, Lewis 7th, Dan 9th, Cory 10th and Luke 11th.


Now all 6 rounds of the Youth league were complete, there was the matter of the overall standings.
Tom Ashcroft finished 7th overall in the Youth B boys. In the Youth A boys, there was a podium for the team with Nathan taking 2nd place overall. Halley was 5th, Luke 6th, Lewis 7th, Dan 11th and Cory 23rd (having only undertaken 2 rounds out of 6). A fantastic effort from everyone.


It’s the transfer season!!

Yes, this is the time of year when riders/managers decide if they are staying with the team or departing to pastures new.

Through mutual consent, it has been decided that Halley Woods will leave the team and we have wished him good luck for next year.

Arriving into the team are two youth A riders from Cycle Sport Pendle (East Lancashire).

  •  Nathan Hawthorn, prolific winner in regional level criteriums, bags of potential with a good bunch kick.
  •  Cory Edmondson, very good CX rider, developing road rider, also with bags of potential going forward.

These new riders will bolster our team for 2016 with the aim to prepare for 2017/18 junior road racing. Both riders have begun riding for the team with immediate effect.


NWCCA Round 2: Horwich Humdinger, Leverhulme Park, Bolton 19/09/15

Last weekend brought Round 2 of the 2015/16 Cyclo-Cross season, and after a successful Round 1, Lewis was keen to put down another strong performance. Horwich CC have a reputation for laying down the very best of Cyclo Cross courses and they did not disappoint this time. The course utilised the entire park and was designed for powerful riders accustomed to road racing! The course included several very long and flat “power” sections, providing an opportunity for riders to put the power down and stretch the opposition.

The weather on the day was very good, starting with a morning mist and heavy dew that developed into bright sun and dry grass. No mud to be seen anywhere! Over thirty youth riders lined up on the main field in anticipation of the starting whistle and once it blew, the riders accelerated away into the far reaches of the park.

Lewis did not have a particularly strong start this week, struggling to clip in and then having to make his way to the front of the pack. As the riders approached the pits for the first time, three had managed to gap the rest of the field: again Cory Edmondson was in the mix alongside Charlie Craig, with Lewis leading the way.

      

It was Lewis who seemed to be on the front for most of the race, with the other two contented to ride at his wheel. Occasionally Charlie came through to do a strong turn to see if he had the strength to gain some ground but as the race entered the final lap it became clear that these three were staying together to fight for the victory.

As the riders entered the final 500m, they had to negotiate a wooded segment and they also approached some lapped riders. This is when Cory made his move, taking Lewis by surprise and beginning his charge for the line. Lewis reacted immediately, and Charlie was in close quarters and the three were really fighting hard to win.

At the very finish of the race was a switch back and Cory took the shorter and perceived faster line but Lewis had other ideas, rounding the corner on the outside and snatching victory with a super cool power drift!

     


NWCCA Round 1

Hoghton Tower, Red Rose Olympic
September 15th, 2015

Last weekend brought the opening of the 2015/16 Cyclo-Cross season, a form of racing undertaken in winter months that is great for maintaining fitness as the weather deteriorates, and also helps riders to develop good bike skills that may well come in useful at later stages in their road careers.

      

The first race in the North West Cyclo Cross Association (NWCCA) league was held at Hoghton Tower, nestled between Blackburn and Preston. The grounds of this stately home provided a splendid location for the first event organised by the Red Rose Olympic Cycling Club. Over forty riders lined up on the inclined driveway facing up towards the grade 1 listed tower, originally built in 1109AD, quite an impressive way to begin a race.

As the flag dropped and the riders blasted up the driveway it was Cory Edmondson from Cycle Sport Pendle who took up the lead by the time the riders reach the tower. After half a lap, two riders had joined Cory at the front of the race: Lewis Hartley from the VCUK Inspire Racing Team and Craig Rogers from Birkenhead North End.
These three were all keen to put a marker down in the first event and it didn’t take long for short sharp attacks to come from Lewis and Craig, which put Cory under pressure who was eventually distanced. As the laps passed by it became clear that Lewis had the edge on the technical aspects of the course, managing to gap Craig but also allowing him to get back on for a few laps before making a really hard dig in the latter half of the race to forge an unassailable lead.
By the time Lewis passed the finish line for the penultimate time and the lap bell rung out, he knew he had the win in the bag, bar any punctures or mechanicals, and was able to ride to a comfortable victory.
 

      


Barrowford

On Saturday, Halley Woods and Lewis Hartley rode at the Steven Burke Hub in Barrowford, taking  2nd and 4th place respectively in the youth A race, before going on to ride in the senior event for additional training!


North West Youth League

On Sunday, Halley Woods, Daniel Gibson, Luke Cheetham and Tom Ashcroft all rode at Tameside in the North West Youth League.

  • In the Long Youth A Race, Luke came 4th, Daniel 6th and Halley 8th.
  • In the Short Youth A Race Daniel was 4th, Halley 5th and Luke 12th.
  • Tom Ashcroft won the Short Youth B Race and was 2nd in the Long Race.

Preston Arena

Meanwhile, Lewis Hartley competed in the Category 2/3/4 senior race at Preston Arena on Sunday morning, competing against one of our sponsors Tim Lawson from Secret Training CC. Tim managed to finish in 3rd place for the podium whilst Lewis sprinted home to 7th, having done a considerable amount of work during the race.


Ben Gautrey Challenge 2015

On Sunday 16th August, the VCUK Inspire Racing Team, along with members of the VCUK junior and women’s team, assembled at the historic and peaceful setting of Meols Hall in Southport to participate in the fourth annual Ben Gautrey Cycle Challenge. Over 150 riders joined together to participate in the fund raising event held in memory of Ben.

The vision of ‘The Foundation’ is to support Young Motor Bike Riders’ who take the same route into Racing that Ben did. ‘The Foundation’ will support Sport from grass root level and will promote the Sports in which Ben was so passionate about (cycling being one of those sports!)

The Benjamin Gautrey Foundation has been generous in their support of our team in 2015. This event enabled our riders to meet the founder of the BGF: Lorraine Blake (Ben’s mother) and say thanks for the assistance we have received. As a team, we like to give something back to our supporters and sponsors.

 

The event was organised by the foundation in collaboration with Dave Williams of DHWAgencies (official distributors in the UK and Ireland for Kuota, Spinergy and Giessegi clothing) www.dhwagencies.com

The Challenge events include either a flat 30km or a more challenging 50km route starting and finishing at Meols Hall. Both anti clockwise routes take in some of the quietest roads in the area which riders of any ability will enjoy.

The VCUK riders undertook the 50km route, with a slight detour, and on the day rode a round 75km. Even though Southport is quite flat the route took in some decent climbs further in land which the younger lads battled up and raced down.


Time Trialling and Hill Climbing

Wigan Wheelers Charity 10 Mile Time Trial (15th August 2015)

Last Saturday, Lewis Hartley travelled up to the South Lakes to participate in the Wigan Wheelers Charity 10 Mile Time Trial on the L1015 Levens course. Lewis managed to record a PB of 22 minutes and 34 seconds, averaging around 26.6MPH.The event was won by Lewis’s older brother Adam Hartley who rides for the VCUK Junior Team with a time of 19 minutes and 51 seconds, averaging over 30MPH.

     

PETTS Hill Climb Finale – Snow Hill Scorton (18th August 2015)

On Tuesday this week, Lewis Hartley pedalled over to Scorton (local café territory) to participate in the PETTS (Preston Evening Time Trials) hill climb event.

    

This event is traditionally the last in a series of evening time trials and the only hill climb in the series. This year it was held on the locally notorious Snow Hill climb that runs up past the Apple Store in Scorton. Lewis managed to ride up the climb with a PB of 3 minutes and 18 seconds, finishing in the top 10.


Litherland Finale


The Litherland Closed Circuit Racing League concluded this week with the final event being held on Wednesday the 19th August.
Both Daniel Gibson and Tom Ashcroft have regularly attended these weekly events, with Daniel competing for the Youth A title and Tom the Youth B. After 20 rounds, Daniel managed to finish 2nd in the league with Daniel Salcedo being crowned the winner from Southport Cycling Club.
During this campaign Daniel managed to win on 4 separate occasions and competed hard every time he turned up.
In the Youth B campaign, young Tom “the Assassin” Ashcroft totally dominated affairs, winning 12 events and taking the league title. After securing the title, Tom began riding up in the Youth A races (with dispensation) and impressively won the final three rounds of the A category races even though he is technically a youth B rider.

    
 


Inspire Racing Team Blog 20th July

Lewis and Luke competed in the latest round of the North West Youth League, this time at the Palatine Circuit in Blackpool.

Results – North West Youth League Round 4

A Boys Race 1

  • 1 Daniel Salcedo         Southport CC
  • 2 George Wharton       Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 3 Nathan Hawthorn     Cycle Sport Pendle
  • 4 Elliot Reed              Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 5 Eddie Townend        Pedalsport Cycling Club
  • 6 Huw Owen              Energy Cycles Junior Road Team
  • 7 Sam Iddon              Bolton Hot Wheels CC
  • 8 Benjamin Barlow       Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 9 Lewis Hartley          Inspire VCUK Racing Team
  • 10 Alistair Leivers       Blackpool Youth Cycle Association

 A Boys Race 2

  • 1 George Wharton     Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 2 Eddie Townend      Pedalsport Cycling Club
  • 3 Daniel Salcedo       Southport CC
  • 4 Sam Iddon            Bolton Hot Wheels CC
  • 5 Huw Owen            Energy Cycles Junior Road Team
  • 6 Nathan Hawthorn   Cycle Sport Pendle
  • 7 Alistair Leivers       Blackpool Youth Cycle Association
  • 8 Benjamin Barlow     Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 9 Elliot Reed             Salt Ayre Cog Set
  • 10 Lewis Hartley       Inspire VCUK Racing Team
  • 11 Luke Cheetham    Inspire VCUK Racing Team

 

Meanwhile Daniel Gibson jetted off to the Pyrenees last week on a cycling holiday/training camp – report to follow.

    


Inspire Racing Team Blog 29th June

North West Youth League – Round 3

On Saturday, the whole team assembled in Colne (Barrowford) at the Steven Burke Cycling Hub, for Round 3 of the North West Youth League. The weather was very good and there seemed to be a good turnout. In a contrast to previous rounds, a large contingent of Irish Academy riders had travelled over for this event using it as a basis for selection for some future stage races. 

    

Personal blog from Tom Ashcroft on the Youth B Race:

In the first race, I was in the top 5 all the way around for the four fast laps of the winding circuit. On the last bend I unfortunately got pushed out, which made me sit up, I then rolled home for 9th place.

In the second race, a rider broke away from the peloton with 11 laps to go, his team mate was slowing our peloton down so it made it a lot harder to close the big gap considering only a few were willing to work through and try and close the gap. The other riders sat on.  Unfortunately we didn’t catch the rider that broke away. In the last lap the mayhem on the last corner before the sprint caused me to lose a lot of places and placed me 11th. I finished 8th overall on the day.

Personal blog from Daniel Gibson on the Youth A Race:

The first race was a short 5km race that went off very quick from the start. There were extra riders due to 11 Irish riders coming over for an experience of English racing. After two laps there was a crash which all of our riders got caught behind and a group of 11 went off the front. We worked and managed to get them back and in the end I came out with 8th place with the rest of the team not far behind.

    


Inspire Racing Team Blog 17th June

Lewis Smashes Out PB’s 

This week saw Lewis Hartley break his 10 mile time trial personal best not once but twice. On Wednesday, Lewis rode in the Kent Valley RC Club 10TT held on the Levens course, in the South Lakes. The weather was good, with very little wind and warm conditions. Lewis rode “fixed gear” using his ADR track bike set up with the BC youth gear restriction (49 x 15T) or 88inches in old money. His previous PB from 2014 was 23:15, but on Wednesday, he managed to go under 23minutes with 22:45. His older brother, Adam Hartley, a 1st year junior riding for the VCUK PH-MAS Junior Cycling Team, won the event with 19:48 gaining a new PB himself.

Later in the week, Lewis headed back up to Levens to ride the Lancaster CC 10TT. This event was an open event meaning ‘open to anyone’, and over 100 riders had entered the time trial in advance. On Saturday the weather was still good but the wind had picked up and that was the most significant difference from Wednesday. Lewis rode the same bike but was still very determined to ride fast, and ambitious to go faster still. He managed to record a time of 22:38, gaining a new PB.

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog 20th May

Scunthorpe Youth Omnium

Luke and Halley travelled over to Scunthorpe to take on the third round of the National Youth Omnium series in very windy conditions on the near 500 metre open air velodrome. The weather was kind with clear skies allowing a day of uninterrupted racing.

The organisers had elected to change the running order, putting the Youth A riders on first to try and give them an early finish as a number of the second year riders had exams the following day, meaning a mad dash to get ready for the first event, the 2 lap Time Trial. Luke was off in the second heat and struggled to get up to speed after starting in a raging headwind. Halley was in the last heat and fared better.

The second event was the Elimination Race, more commonly known as the Devil, where the last rider over the line each lap is pulled out of the race. Halley managed to hold on to finish just outside the top ten with Luke finishing sixth.

The Scratch race was a fast and furious affair, being run off at an average speed of over 40kph despite several neutralised laps following a couple of nasty crashes. Halley and Luke managed to avoid the crashes and Halley launched a great attack when the race restarted with 2 laps left and was unlucky to get caught with half a lap to go. The final outcome was both of the boys finishing safely in the bunch.

The Match sprints were only run off for the first 18 riders so Luke just missed out on this. Halley held his own in his race to hold his overall position going into the final event of the day, the Points Race.

Again fast and furious racing was the order of the day with a few attacks gaining some points before being reeled back in. Halley managed to pick up 2 points in one of the sprints while Luke stayed safely in the bunch but never managed to get amongst the points on the sprint laps.


Inspire Racing Team Blog 20th May

Litherland Youth A Circuit Race

Saturday saw the full Team back in action at the second round of the North West Youth series with Dan, Halley and Luke being joined by Lewis making a return to racing following a short break with a slight knee injury.

The racing followed the usual format with a short race in the morning followed by a longer race after lunch.

The shorter of the races set off at a frantic pace with a few riders being shelled from the main group over the first couple of laps. The wind meant that the race fell into a format of being strung out in the tailwind and bunching back together into the headwind. The four VCUK were comfortably in the leading bunch but were unable to capitalise on this in the sprint and all finished comfortably in the small bunch.

The second race was a longer affair at 25 laps and although the weather was kind in staying dry the wind had picked up significantly. The same whittling down process soon began with riders gradually drifting off the back of the group as the laps wore on. A few attacks from the leading riders came to nothing with the wind playing the same role in stringing out and closing up the bunch. At the halfway point a decisive split happened with seven riders forming a front group and forging away. Dan, Halley and Luke managed to make this selection with Lewis being caught behind a slower rider as the split happened and, despite a valiant effort into the headwind, being unable to bridge across to the seven leaders.

   

The lead group continued to increase the pace and with two laps to go Dan, then Halley, and finally Luke lost contact and formed into a three man chasing group. The race was won by Theo Hartley with Luke, Halley and Dan coming in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively with Lewis not putting too much stress on his knee and finishing comfortably with the chasing riders.


Inspire Racing Team Blog 6th May

Isle of Man Youth Tour 2015

On Friday the 1st May, the boys took a day off school in order to get to the Isle of Man to participate in the National Youth Circuit Stage Race, held over the bank holiday weekend. Seventy of the best riders from across the UK are entered in the event, making for a tough weekend, especially for those riders in their first year of racing in this category.nThey arrived at Liverpool docks to board the Steam Packet Ferry on Friday morning with great weather and arrived on the island mid-afternoon.

      

The first stage was on Friday evening: an individual time trial (ITT) on Douglas promenade over 1.29km. The riders took to the start ramp at 7:46pm and managed the following times & positions:

  • Halley Woods      1:52 - 16th
  • Dan Gibson         1:55 - 39th
  • Luke Cheetham   1:59 - 54th
  • Lewis Hartley      2:03 - 62nd

 The winning time in the Youth A category was 1 minute and 46 seconds by Fred Wright of VC Londres.

On Saturday the lads travelled up to Ellerslie for the 36.2km (5 lap) road race that includes a particularly tough climb and very fast descent. The team woke up to some horrendous weather conditions, with early morning temperatures at only 2 degrees. With the race not due to start until late afternoon everyone was hopeful of some drier spells. Unfortunately, the rain continued to pour all day long! Owing to the conditions, the race was cut short (to 3 laps) even before the riders took to the line. This was a wise decision considering that many of the junior riders had experienced symptoms of hypothermia in the mornings racing at Peel.

The race started fast with the bunch splitting immediately due to the climb and the wind. The race was consistently fast throughout all the uphill and downhill sections with the leading riders trying to put as much time into the others as they could. By the time the lead group began the climb for the fourth time, there was only a handful of contenders left who battled it out for the podium positions. It was the notorious Daniel Tullett who managed to take the stage win, ahead of Connor Davies and Fred Wright. The riders managed to complete the race safely, further down the field and were just grateful to cross the line and get back to the race HQ for hot drinks and warm clothes.

On Sunday, the 3rd and final stage of this year’s tour took place on the promenade at Ramsey. Unfortunately Lewis was forced to take a decision to retire before the stage due to his persistent knee discomfort.  However on a more positive note the rain cleared up and the sun came out to shine by the time the race started in the late afternoon. The course at Ramsey is around 2km straight up and down the prom. However it’s made difficult by a strong headwind on the way back in and tight hairpin bends at each end.

The race started at a frantic pace and our riders suffered an early set back at the first bend as they got caught up in a group of around 20 riders who were slowed up by a fallen rider. Although the team chased back on and re-joined the main bunch, they suffered from their early effort and would later fall off the back as the riders slowed up into each hairpin bend and smashed their way out in single file.

Halley finished the race 45th with Luke and Dan just a little further back. Our riders were left to reflect on a race that was much harder for them than it needed to be due to early positioning. The stage was won by Fred Wright of VC Londres who also narrowly snatched GC victory from Dan Tullett and Rhys Briton.


Inspire Racing Team Blog 6th May

North West Youth Circuit Championships

The boys took part in the recent North West Youth Circuit Championships in Southport and team rider, Dan Gibson was asked to write a short report of his experiences.

Over to Dan…

“The race started out like every race does, fast and dangerous with people taking risks on every corner just to move up one place in the lead group and after a few Laps the inevitable happened. There was a crash on the chicane just after the finishing line but thankfully none of our riders came down but Lewis was badly held up by it.

    

The rest of us kept our noses near the front until me and Luke got shelled out but Halley was keeping near the front and looking strong. Then, Halley unluckily came off on a very wet hairpin and was unable to finish the race, very bad luck.

Everyone raced hard and gave everything they could, and it was a race which I was glad to finish.”

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog 6th May

Omnium Weekend Report

Last weekend, three of the Inspire VCUK riders had a track focussed weekend as they competed in the annual British Cycling Omnium Northern qualification contest.
On Saturday the 9th May the team (minus Lewis) rode in the Knowsley Youth Omnium which consists of five different track events: time trial, scratch, devil, keirin and points races.
First up was a 1 lap time trial, in windy conditions on an outdoor velodrome. Daniel Gibson and Luke Cheetham finished 26th and 28th respectively, whilst Halley was unfortunate to pull his foot out of his pedal to roll home at the very back of the field.
The second race was the scratch race, all our riders animated the race and finished in the bunch along with a lot of high calibre riders.
Next was the devil, and by far the most dangerous race with a few people in the bunch not looking before changing their line, or trying to get through gaps that just were not there!
The last race of the day was the points and with nothing to lose, Daniel attacked with a lap to go, giving it everything, but was caught on the back straight by the chasing pack.
 
    
 
The level of competition in this event was very high with Olympic Apprenticeship riders fighting hard to retain their places on the programme and with riders representing the whole of the North of England (42 in total).
At the end of the day, Luke finished half way down the field with Daniel and Halley just a little further back…perhaps not the results they hoped for but what they did take away was a lot of experience for 2016.
 
On Sunday the 10th May, the same lads travelled over to the National Cycling Centre Velodrome in Manchester for round two of three.
The format was the same as the day before with each rider competing in five events. Being indoors, the time trial was not affected by weather and the lads were used to racing on the boards.
In the 1km TT, the boys had similar results to Day 1 with Halley finishing in 22nd place, with Daniel and Luke not far behind (mid to latter half of field).
In the remaining races, Halley showed he had more to give with two top 10 placings in the scratch and points races with only his TT really setting him back to 21st overall (mid-field score).
Daniel and Luke both consistently finished inside the top 20 for the remaining races with only their TT’s really hampering their overall result.
 

Inspire Racing Team Blog 22nd April

British Cycling Youth Circuit Series – Round 1 – Hetton Lyons

This weekend, the Inspire VCUK Race Team travelled up to Hetton, in the North East, for the first race of the BC National Circuit Series.

Inspire VCUK rider Luke Cheetham provided us with this short report:

   

“The race was 33 laps of a long and twisty circuit consisting of a small climb and descent before an uphill sprint. There was a field of 80 high quality riders competing in the Youth A Race.

The race started fast. It was a tight bunch with everybody trying to stay close to the front. Throughout the race lots of riders were getting dropped due to the high pace and longer distance.

   

A few attacks went off the front but all were reeled back in until with around 10 laps to go an attack went that would stick. The riders in this final attack stayed away for the remainder of the race with the bunch being too slow to react with their chasing.

Unfortunately there was a bad crash during the bunch sprint that brought down two Inspire VCUK riders. However all the riders in the crash were ok with only collateral damage enabling them to cross the line and finish the race.

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog 

Yealand Conyers Youth Training Camp
 
The Inspire VCUK Racing Team held their second youth training camp of the season, this time North of Lancaster. The camp began on the Saturday morning at the Salt Ayre Closed Road Circuit, where the riders took to the grid for the first round of the North West Youth League circuit race series.
The league is held over several rounds through the season at various NW circuits. Each round contests 2 races: a short sprinter race and a longer endurance race.
 
   
 
The first race was 4 laps, so almost over with the blink of an eye. This race was won by Alistair Leivers of BYCA, with Jim Brown in 2nd place and Will King 3rd. Luke and Halley both managed a top 10 (7th & 9th) and Lewis just behind in 14th.
For the second race over 18 laps, the boys all looked good in the bunch and all attempted to move up to the front of the race. Halley made a good attempt to break away but was later reeled in by the pack and, on the final lap; Luke attacked at the bell for a brave attempt at a solo win but was caught by the time the riders appeared from the trees. In the end, the race was won by Yorkshire rider Jim Brown with all our boys finishing comfortably in the bunch.
 
After the race, the boys packed their overnight kit into some weekend support vehicles and then rode from Lancaster to Yealand Conyers (15 mile) via Morecambe and Carnforth.
For the overnight stay our riders were joined by a team from Salt Ayre Cogset and a team from Furness Flyers. Jordan Stansworth from the Achieve Cycling Team also joined up for the weekend. A great bunch of lads!
On arrival at the hostel, the riders first prepared sleeping arrangements and organised their kit for the evening ahead and for a long ride on Sunday. After this it was dinner duties with the riders cooking their own dinner consisting of chicken with pasta in an Italian sauce, followed by rice pudding. The riders hydrated with Love Beets Juice during dinner. After dinner, the riders were handed over to Jennifer Lace for a 1 hour workshop before settling down to watch an inspirational movie to end the evening.
 
 
In the morning they awoke to rain pelting the roads outside and unfortunately the weather forecast was very accurate! Breakfast was prepared in the morning with help from the riders and comprised beans/toast, porridge, bananas with everyone feeling a little tentative about the ride ahead.
A short brief was delivered to the riders at 8:50 and they left the digs at 9am in the pouring rain, heading out towards not so “Sunny Bank” near Capernwray. The original plan was to ride around 70 miles to Ingleton, Hawes, Sedbergh, before returning over Barbon Fells to Kirby Lonsdale and then Yealand. With the weather as it was, there was no way this ride could proceed as planned. The outside temperature was 4 degrees and riders were getting soaked to the skin very quickly. By the time they reach Ingleton it had already been decided to cut the ride short and the route was diverted back to Kirby, with some riders already opting to hitch a lift in the support vehicle as they could not feel their fingers.
 
 
At the finish Luke and Dan showed a lot of character to carry on and finish the route back to Yealand, along with Sam, Elliot, Chris and Jordan. At the same time, the riders that did climb in the car had no choice – it would have been daft for them to carry on and risk hypothermia!
A great weekend was had by all that included elements of racing, training, team building, education and relaxation.

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog

Youth Tour of Scotland 2015 – Race Report April

 
Early April and the Inspire VCUK Racing Team travelled north of the border for the annual Youth Tour of Scotland stage race. The event is held over 3 days using a mixture of closed countryside roads and a superb city centre circuit in the centre of Perth.
 
Day 1
Stage 1 on Saturday afternoon, was a 9 lap road race on closed roads, featuring a KOM climb and a fast rolling and technical descent to the finish. The 60km race was contested by 80 of the best riders from across the UK and also national team from Ireland and a strong contingent from the Isle of Man. The boys rode really well in this race, maintaining good positions in the peloton and managing to stay in the front group from start to finish.
 
 
As the race gathered pace on the final lap, it was pleasing to see all of our riders still in the lead group and ready to contest the sprint. As the group descended, the pace was hotting up, with Halley leading the charge and Theo Hartley on his wheel!
Luke managed to use his technical nouse to finish really strongly in 11th place and Halley finished in mid-twentieth close to our guest rider Matty Taylor with Lewis rolling over the line in 31st position, after narrowly avoided a collision.
 
Day 2 
This involved a short journey into nearby Perth City Centre to contest two criteriums. The council had increased its offering from previous years by allowing the circuit to be used all day long on Easter Sunday! The weather was improving hour-by-hour, with bright sunshine, zero wind and probably the warmest spot in the UK. The bunch of eighty riders lining up for the start of the first criterium.
 
The races were run over 40minutes and the first race was very fast. Our riders are learning to deal with this fast and furious style of racing and in particular the need to stay up near the front. This will take time to understand and put into practice and it was evident during the first race that all of our riders were positioned too far back. Luke had the strongest start but a minor skirmish caused his chain to jump off and by the time he fixed the problem he was ½ a minute down on the leaders and very disappointed!
 
Later in the race, the intensity became too much for Lewis who is currently experiencing some knee pain when racing/training over longer distances. Lewis was forced to back off a little to avoid aggravating the injury too much before he seeks some specialist treatment. Halley and Matty battled on in the race and finished in the leading group.
 
    
 
In race 2, Luke again started strongly and was looking really comfortable towards the front of the peloton, keen to make the second race more successful than the outcome of the first. Halley, Matty and Lewis all started well and looked good.
After around 30 minutes, Lewis again backed off and rather than making big efforts out of the corners, he chose to use lower gears and spin his legs to save his knee for the next day.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the race, after 20 laps, a serious crash occurred on the finish straight with two riders having to be stretchered off the course and taken to A&E. We heard later that both riders had not sustained serious injury and are recovering well but owing to a risk assessment of the course and judgement from the Chief Commissaire, it was decided to abandon the 2nd race.
 
So on to the final stage on Easter Monday, this time close to the HQ - in and around the school grounds. The final stage involved 16 laps of a 2.55km course equalling 40km in total. The course is very technical with elements comparable to the Paris-Roubaix!
The course also includes a short but steep climb to the start / finish area which when tackled 16 times becomes pretty hard on the legs!
 
All our riders had different levels of success and misfortune on all the stages. For this stage, Luke got caught behind a crash and found himself at the very back of the bunch as they started the climb. By the top a gap had opened and Luke was unable to stop the elastic snapping, probably following his efforts on Saturday and Sunday. To his credit, he battled on for the rest of the race and never gave up!
 
Shortly after Luke’s misfortune, Matty had a mechanical failure with his electric gears which prevented him from changing into lower gears. This was really bad luck as he had performed so well over all of the previous stages and he reckoned that the final stage was the one that really suited his ability, being a well versed CX rider with good technical ability and good climbing ability.
Nearer the front of the race was Halley and Lewis, both hanging on in there as they counted down the laps.
 
At the finish, Lewis and Halley crossed the line in 33rd and 34th place and in the leading group. The teams positions after the final stage were: Halley 23rd, Lewis 30th, Matty 37th and Luke 46th

           

 


 Inspire Racing Team Blog 

Dolan series - Southport - Race 3

For the third and final round of the Dolan Series, the Inspire VCUK Racing Team had a full complement of riders returning to Southport: Daniel Gibson, Luke Cheetham, Lewis Hartley and Halley Woods.

It was that wet that the races were delayed and the course had to be swept to remove a deluge of water on the circuit. The course eventually began drying up with the brisk wind and a single and relatively short race eventually got under way early in the afternoon. The fifteen lap race set off at the usual frenetic pace with our riders choosing to ride towards the back of the field.
On a tight course with lots of corners it is always difficult to move up in a fast race and our riders started to pay the price for their choices. Their race day coach, Jerrod Hartley, was doing his best to encourage the lads to move up but with such a short race and starting at the back, the lads were always going to find this tough.
 
In the final third of the race, Halley, Lewis and Luke had all made progress in getting nearer the front, which was encouraging.
In the end, the team ended up with Halley in 8th, Luke 9th, Lewis 13th and Dan a little further back in 19th.The best thing about the day, however, was not the results but other less tangible outcomes such as the fact that the riders left the race in good spirit having had a great day together and also having learned more about bike racing – corning and positioning in the bunch!

             


 Inspire Racing Team Blog 

Dolan series - Southport - Race 2

A return to Southport for Round 2 of the Dolan Series for Daniel Gibson, Luke Cheetham and Lewis Hartley and the weather was almost perfect -a touch cold but bright sunshine and not much wind.

Race#1: VCUK riders kept in touch at the front of the pack right up to the bell lap but half way round the final lap, on the tightest acute corner, a crash occurred involving a few cyclists. The incident was near the front of the pack and unfortunately all of VCUK riders were held up for the finish, missing out on the opportunity to be placed in the top 10.

For Race#2: This was the long race of the day, the boys performed very well. Lewis was always near the front of the bunch, looking for opportunities to break away or policing the strongest riders in the bunch. Dan was also very determined to finish with the leaders, expressing a “pain face” throughout the race.

Luke found the second race a tough affair, probably wondering if he should have started the race with the remnants of a cold. He battled on and finished the race in a small group of riders that found the race equally challenging.

So at the end of the day Lewis finished in 10th spot, with Daniel 14th and Luke 24th from a very strong field of 36 riders.

           

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog 

Dolan Series – Southport – Race 1

This was the first outing for the Inspire VCUK Racing Team.  Although this was an individual event with every rider out for themselves, there was a real sense of excitement and camaraderie among the team.

The Dolan Series is a really challenging event and the series is made up of races on three consecutive weekends, starting on 14th March, with each event having a short race of 8 laps and a longer race of 25 laps.

Dan Gibson unluckily came down a few laps in, after a touch of wheels, and suffered some nasty road rash. Thankfully Dan was able to finish and recover for the next race and Lewis, Luke and Halley managed to stay out of trouble.  Lewis did particularly well finishing 7th and beating many of the second year ‘A’ riders in a sprint.

The second race is much longer but still started quite fast and the pace saw the main field spilt into a few different groups quite quickly. All of the Inspire VCUK riders kept up with the pace for the first half dozen laps or so and there were times when they were riding in a line directly behind one another when they rode like a team. As the race wore on Halley struggled to hold the back of the bunch out of a corner and was dropped and Luke later suffered a similar fate.  However, they both showed strong desire and strength to continue working together and finished the race in a smaller group of riders behind the front group.  Dan and Lewis did fantastically well and managed to finish with the front group of riders sprinting for the line and just behind the race winners.

      


Inspire Racing Team Blog 

NLTTA Combined Clubs 10TT

Late February / early March sees the start of the time trial season and as members of the NLTTA (North Lancashire Time Trial Association) the Inspire VCUK team took to the line with Lewis Hartley as their sole rider in the combined clubs 10 mile event.

The course was the L105 in Brock and is a loop that encompasses both standard straight road riding with technical twisty Lancashire lanes, often with long stretches exposed to the cross and head winds that anyone who rides around there will be familiar with. 

There were 127 finishers out of a starting list of 147 riders and we are delighted that Lewis finished a very credible 36th:

      


Inspire Racing Team Blog

Rossendale Hilly Sporting Course Time Trial – March

Lewis Hartley competed in the 10.3 mile hilly time trial organised by Rossendale Road Club. The race was based in Bolton-by-Bowland and the first rider was off at 2pm prompt.

111 riders were entered on the start sheet but with the weather being tough, wet and windy only 92 riders actually completed the course.

Lewis finished 23rd for the Inspire VCUK Racing Team with a time of 27:27 which also gave him 3rd place Junior overall.

      


Inspire Racing Team Blog

Inspire VCUK Bike Fit

At this time of the year, when riders are about to embark on another road / time trial season, it is important that riders check that their positions are optimised on their bikes.

Lewis Hartley travelled to National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Manchester to visit the Inspire VCUK Racing Team’s professional bike fit and cycling injury specialist: Richard Salisbury who operates his business Pedal Precision from within the NCC.

 A good bike fit will insure that the rider is in a comfortable posture on the bike so that they can ride in a relaxed position for long periods of time, without developing injuries to the knees or spine.

The whole process involves a number of checks including examining a rider’s basic physiology, to understand if a rider has any unusual features such as different leg lengths.

Additionally a camera and laptop are used to check positions from various projections to make sure that the rider is comfortable both with saddle height and lay-back through the pedal stroke and also with reach to the handlebars.

Being a bike rider himself and also being qualified in the field of Sports Injury, Richard is very well placed to deliver this service and as a team, we feel very privileged to have Pedal Precision as a sponsor. 

                 

 


Inspire Racing Team Blog

Team Training Camp - Rhyl - February 2015

The team headed to Rhyl for some pre-season training incorporating a variety of activities. They travelled to North Wales early on the Saturday and began training with a morning road ride of over 60k followed by circuit training to develop skills and tactics in the afternoon. 

Sunday was a day for heading in to the mountains and after a good breakfast they changed into winter gear to face the fog that was lingering around. This eventually cleared and the sun shone which improved everyone’s mood as they began the biggest climb of the day. There was still plenty of snow at the road side going up to Sportsman Inn and there was some spectacular scenery of Snowdonia. 

The boys really worked well as a unit and have now started to appreciate the opportunity they have as they start their Youth racing season.

          

 

Inspire Racing Team Blog

NWCCA Prize Presentation Evening

Lewis Hartley attended the NWCCA Prize Presentation Evening for the 2014/2015 Cyclo Cross Season on 23rd January as an age category league winner. Lewis won the youth league which encompasses riders aged 13 - 16.