FEATURE: TLI Cycling Cheshire Series

During the month of May, if you live in the Northwest of England or North Wales, hold a TLI licence and like to race on the open road, you will likely find yourself in Holt on the Wales/England border riding the long established ‘Cheshire Series’.

TLI Cycling Event Report: Cheshire Series
By Michael Bell

During the month of May, if you live in the Northwest of England or North Wales, hold a TLI licence and like to race on the open road, you will likely find yourself in Holt on the Wales/England border riding the long established ‘Cheshire Series’.

The Cheshire Series is the first in a number of Graham Weigh Racing Team (GWRT) promotions for the 2024 season and, as has been the case for a number of years, ably organised by former Welsh international rider Keith Jones.

As a recent returnee to racing after 23 years away from the sport, I have been curious about the title of the series, as only 0.8 miles of each race is in Cheshire, and that is the neutralised section between the race HQ at Farndon Community Club, to the crossing of the River Dee: which forms the border between Wales and England in this area, before the flag drops and racing begins as the riders join the circuit proper.

Why this misnomer with the title of the series then? It’s a tradition thing. Keith is very much of that ilk and when he took over responsibility for putting on these races, despite using a different circuit, keeping the well-known, established title seemed the right thing to do.

The original 10 race Cheshire Series was organised by the late Chris Knight, he utilised several different road circuits, all in Cheshire, mainly based on Lache Dennis in the heart of the county, with Worleston being another. In those early TLI days, marshalling duties were carried out by helpers from The Scout Association.

Over the years, the annual series became an established fixture, attracting good fields with a number of notable names including former GB internationals Peter Matthews and Mike Williams, ex British pro champion Phil Thomas in addition to local talent such as Malcolm Fraser, Davie Jones, John Watchman, Vicky Thomas and that man again: Keith Jones.

This year’s series has attracted near 80 entries across all categories: senior (18 – 39) and the veteran classes in 5 year age bands from 40 plus, including Gordon Wallace, originally from Dumfries but now of the promoting GWRT who embarked on his 55th consecutive racing season on May 8th, the first event.

Round 1 and Race 1 rolled out, the seniors, A and B veterans, followed 5 minutes later by Race 2: category D, E & F’s, as always under the protection of the fantastic Bike Marshalls, keeping the riders and other road users safe.

In the absence of The Scouts, marshalling duties are carried out on a rota, this first week it was the C category riders who donned the hi-vis vests and brandished the red flags at the corners.

The racing is always fast from the start, the prevailing tail wind along Blackwood Way producing some epic maximum speeds, in my race (Race 2: DEFG) the break formed here on the first lap as Paul Molloy attempted to better his Strava KOM segment. A five-man break formed and stayed clear until the final effort up the formidable Quarry finish, with the battle of the Pauls’ being won by Molloy ahead of Thursfield. Other category winners in round 1, race 2 were first year E category rider John Crook who led the bunch over the line in 6th place, with Geoff Rawlinson just ahead of Gordon Wallace in the F category.

In race 1, Velo 6 Racing’s Steve Fidler crossed the line atop the Quarry in overall first place, with category wins for Chris Shuker (A) and Paul Foster (B)

The fast, right-hand corner onto the finish hill claimed a victim in Michael Fowler as he slid out, thankfully with nothing more than road rash and torn kit.

For Round 2, it was the D category riders on marshalling duties. Both races being the usual mix of constant attacks, stretching out into a long line, regrouping and repeat, riders trying to observe their category peers and ‘make the calculation’ as Sean Kelly would say, for the all-important category win (they all count!)

In Race 1 there was a further win for Velo 6 Racing as Nicholas Morrex won ahead of Birkenhead North End rider George Higgins. Following his stage win in the recent BMCR Tour of the Abberleys, GWRT’s Barry Murphy put a smile on the face of Keith Jones and Graham Weigh when he was first B rider. That final corner once again claiming a couple of victims as Fibrax Wrexham rider Matthew Wales and GWRT’s Angelo Derosa overcooked it in the battle for prime position to hit that hill first, at full tilt.

Race 2 was contested by C, E & F riders. A rapid start instigated by numerous attacks by Bioracer’s Chris Quinn saw a break forming with Chris, Ray Bell riding for Liverpool Braveheart, GWRT’s Alan Broadbent, Team Tactic rider Steve Feeney and Team Bott’s John Crook doing an excellent ride as an E cat amongst the C’s.

Quinn and Bell eventually forged ahead and despite the former’s many attempts to break clear of his rival they approached the finish hill together, with Bell wrestling his bike over the line in first place, John Crook maintaining his 100% record as first E and Ian Moore of Ruthin CC leading home the F’s.

Halfway through the series and it has been another excellent promotion so far, great racing, seamless organisation including Kim and Laura Jones at the signing on table and Kath Weigh at the cake and tea/coffee table. The rider also appreciating the photographers who upload photos soon after the finish, this year also included drone footage that perfectly demonstrated the Bike Marshalls doing their thing but also, importantly, how the riders abide by the rules of the road, keeping to the left at all times.

https://www.tlicycling.com/  | Age-Related Cycle Sport For All | Supporting Grassroots Cycle Racing for 35 Years


Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK