Report: TLI Cheshire Series Round 3 & 4

Report from Michael Bell of rounds 3 & 4 of the TLI Cycling Cheshire Road Race Series in May (22nd/29th)

Report: TLI Cheshire Series Round 3 & 4
(by Michael Bell)

The TLI Cheshire Series, round 3 & 4.
Persistent rain all day resulted in a number of DNS right across the age categories for round 3 on 22nd May, resulting in Keith Jones: the series organiser, making the decision to amalgamate the races into 1, as an aged based handicap.

The rain continued to fall as the small field formed up, E’s+ setting off with 3 minutes advantage on the pursuing C&D riders who in turn had 2 minutes lead on the under 40 category and those aged 40 – 49.

The C’s and D’s set off briskly, nearing 30mph at times along the A534. To clarify, it was Ray Bell and Chris Quin forcing that infernal pace, with Kevin ‘Dalai’ Ĺarmer and Paul Molloy adding their input too, while the rest were clinging on in their wake. Some were unfortunate to be caught out by the rapid start and missed the split.

The rapid start saw what was left of the C&D group catch the front markers within 10 miles but more importantly, meant that the scratch group of younger riders never made it to the front of the race.

At the halfway point, Chris got a gap and soloed his way to the finish.

On the final traverse of the A534, a clash of wheels took out Ray Bell and Paul Thursfield and the rest of us immediately calculated finishing two places higher. As Paul admitted later, it was his front wheel tangling with Ray’s rear wheel and derailleur that removed the pair of them from the race, I mused that if I’d taken Ray out in a race in those circumstances I’d have ran off across the fields.

The finish line was in a new place for me, having finished atop the Quarry climb in all of the previous races I’d ridden on this circuit since coming back to racing in 2022.

As Chris was already togged up ready for the 3 mile ride back to HQ we hove into view, the rain was still falling as we tackled the gradual, uphill slog to the chequered flag, the Dalai leading out the bunch as he had for most of the last lap. Alan Broadbent crossed the line in second place ahead of John Crook and Paul Molloy.

ROUND 4 on 29th May saw much more amiable weather, despite a strong wind it was a white shoes and socks kinda night and consequently the car park was bustling again with riders and their motorised companions, the Bike Marshalls (bike The E,F&G chaps were on stationary marshaling duties and there was my usual issue of not recognising people out of context, with their clothes on.

3 races set off, each with a pre race briefing, which included the regular recommendation to “look after each other” which I like to hear.

This can manifest itself in a number of ways, including pointing out the potholes, verbal warnings of oncoming vehicles or a raised arm to warn those following or just being sensible through the corners etc.

Also included in the pre race brief was an appeal for entries to upcoming TLI events, the classic Super 4 series and a new GWRT series in August on the Marsh Tracks circuit, a purpose built course near Rhyl. The TLI time trial championships and Jon Harlands series also on Marsh Tracks also deserve a mention.

In my own race, the C’s and D’s, there ensued a much more sedate cruise along the A534 than the previous week. The brinkmanship of who goes first was broken, almost inevitably, by a text book pincer movement attack by Ray Bell on the right, utilising a lay-by he sped past in a cloud of gravelly dust as Chris Quin countered on the right and the joined up and headed off together into the sunset.

Surprisingly, the other usual protagonists: Paul Thursfield, Paul Molloy and Andy Bennett missed this move. Valiant efforts by GWRT rider Alan Broadbent and Team Tactic rider Stephen Feeney failed to bridge to the leaders.

Numerous further attacks over the next 25 or do miles failed to split the bunch or make any headway into Ray & Chris’s lead but with about 3 miles to go, during a lull in the pace following a prolonged Andy Bennett and Kevin Larmer effort, I consulted my ‘Road Race tactics, chapter 1’ booklet and attacked as everyone eased.

I managed to get a gap so I made probably my only big effort of the night to maintain it.

Having finished their race earlier, the A&B’s were heading in the opposite direction, back to the HQ and it was great to get a bit of encouragement (“go ed Belly”!)

I knew if I got to the roundabout before turning off the circuit to the Quarry hill I’d be able to hang on but it was difficult to get a glimpse of where my pursuers were due to following traffic so Barry Murphy’s shout to me that I’d still got a gap was appreciated.

It was almost a pleasant experience to tackle that final climb solo, rather than a gut wrenching sprint in a group and I ambled up to finish 3rd overall and first in my cat D 55-59 age group.

Perhaps the lack of time gaps in the promptly produced results is a good thing though the judges could have used a calendar to assess how far we were behind the eventual winner Ray and runner up Chris.

In other categories there were wins for Matthew Wales (under 40’s), Chris Shuker (A’s) and Robbie Lawton (B’s).

On behalf of all the riders, I’d like to express thanks to all who make this racing malarkey possible, Keith, Kim and Laura Jones, Rose Bartolome Jones for the fantastic montages of the races added to social media, Kath Weigh for post race refreshments and last but by no means least, the Bike Marshalls and anyone else involved that I’ve failed to mention. |  Age-Related Cycle Sport For All | Supporting Grassroots Cycle Racing for 35 Years


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