Our flying junior Max McMurdo reports

Race Report from Harrogate Nova RR where Max Placed 6th


Fathers day should mean the father is spoilt and brought breakfast in bed… a lie in and waited on hand and foot for the day, right? Well not my dad! He came and woke me up at 7 to get ready for racing! I got downstairs to see he was already making me my pre race meal of beans on toast. I knew I’d have to make it a good race to make it all worth it.

We are only a short distance from the infamous Pennypot circuit that todays race was held on, just outside of Harrogate, so its one I know well and regularly train on.

Todays race could be described as a proper Yorkshire local bike race, 15 mile from home to HQ, hang out with my mates, then race, then eat cake after… it was a right laugh. All that pre race banter was flying and it’s such a nice break from revision (As I’m still taking my A2 finals; 8 done 4 to go…)

I got to sign on saw there was a decent field of 80 odd riders of Yorkshires finest, including Ex pro and eventual winner Jamie Sharp. You could say he was at the sharp end of the race…

I know I’m not in peak condition as far as fitness as trainings having to take a bit of a backseat while i get these exams out the way, its been more of a case of maintenance rather than building, with most weeks training totalling 7 hours at absolute most. So looking at the field I could tell I was gonna be in for a tough day.

Nevertheless my mindset remained the same, enjoy it, pay attention to the riders you know are strong and the advice I was given by the legend Tom Barras- “Don’t take shit from no clowns”

Things kicked off at 10 am sharp, it was a steady start with the ever optimistic solo attacks going 60 mile from the finish. I stayed sat in about 15th wheel most of the first lap, knowing… ok, hoping the break wouldn’t go on the first lap and me miss it. The good thing about this lack of training is that 99%of the time I’m feeling pretty fresh, so I felt good early on.

About 2 and a half laps in a break went, 4 or 5 riders went up the road on Pennypot road- Basically the longest draggy bumpy pothole covered road in the world. I wasn’t going to start chasing anything this time trying not to unnecessarily waste energy, I thought it’d come back and it did, but from then on I stayed more alert to attacks. Sure enough another attack went with about 8 or 9 riders, one of them was me! After having seen a few go up the road and still feeling strong I bridged the 200m gap and sat on for a bit to recover. In the next few miles another 4 riders bridged to us to form what was the winning move. 2 laps to go… I was confident I’d made the right decision getting in this break. With one lap to go we crossed the line with about a minute gap on the main field. Nothing was guaranteed with 12 miles still to go but it was looking likely that the winner was going to come from this break.

It felt like we were riding too slowly and that we were going to get caught so I probably did more turns than perhaps was necessary, but I would rather get 15th and last man in the break than the main group catch us and me get nothing. So I endeavoured to get a chain gang working, it worked well enough that we weren’t caught but they had certainly closed in on us at the finish.

The final time up Pennypot road was steady, the fireworks hadn’t been lit yet, but then we turned the corner onto the descent where a rider attacked, me on junior gearing was left searching for gears as I had to sit in and watch him drift off at 40 odd mile an hour. The road kicks up past a famous bikers pub which is where another rider went away, the road then turns left past the HQ and into the final mile or so. I wasn’t cooked but knew I wasn’t the strongest rider there, so I stayed sat in and let others chase the breakaways breakaway riders. There’s a short descent that leads into the final climb, I was sat 4th wheel there with two still off the front, so 6th on the road. It really kicks up with 250m or so to go, I gulped in the air, swung out and gave it everything, but as I said already, I wasnt the strongest rider there and came in 6th place, but 1st junior rider.

After winning my local hilly TT the Thursday prior to today and this result its been a decent week. Now time to crack on with some revision again.



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