Kicking off the Winter Series


It's ten to eleven on race day and Martin Greenwood is stuck in a quandary. Like a Hollywood diva getting ready for a night on the tiles, he doesn’t know what shoes to wear.

The speedster has narrowed it down to one of two pairs but still isn't convinced that this is the day for his Nike Alphaflys.

With time marching on he plays it safe with a trusty worn-in set of wheels, and it’s a good job he does as he only ends up smashing the course record along with bagging a first place finish.

Away from the dizzy heights of the podium, the Winter Series offers a brilliant no-pressure environment for every TAC member to experience racing and a field of 63 suggested that there is certainly still an appetite for it in these uncertain times.

The fact that it was even being staged in the first place, as Lancashire slips ominously into tier three, is testament to race organiser Jamie Mac's dedication to the cause.

The wave starts he implemented in the podium track series a few weeks earlier, as well as in the Lancashireman Off-Road Marathon, proved that our sport can continue safely in time trial format.

Having only been a Humbug for little more than a year, I understand that the Rodney is something of a club classic. I tried my luck at it last year in the pursuit of a mug and enjoyed the route. The two climbs are soon over and the downhills are a nice reward.

This year though I was determined to put the work we've been doing at the track to the test and give it everything.

The staggered starts meant there was a string of runners ahead to chase which actually worked out better for pacing than the primal dash of a bunched start.

In my mind, that loop of Millennium Green is flat but today there were bumps. As ever though, if it’s hard for you it’s hard for everyone, so the first loop was about getting round quickly and onto the Lenches in good shape.

As climbs go, I'd describe that one as Mount Lane on steroids. Anyone who has raced the Burnley Fire or Towneley 10K will agree with this.

A consistent feature today were friendly faces. From the Taylors, who I met at the Lancashireman, to the marshals on the course, everyone was in good spirits. I suppose social occasions must be savoured more than ever at the minute.

One such friendly face was Vic Rogan, marshalling at the top of the Lenches. Normally tearing it up on the tarmac she'd opted to help out today and offered encouragement to all who passed her station.

Knotts Lane was bittersweet as we knew on the descent that in about seven minutes time we’d be on our way back up it. That kick right at the top requires a deep effort.

I'd been enjoying a good battle with Andrzej Bilski for a lot of the race and as we headed back up Knotts Lane I managed to pass him. The joy was short-lived though as he flew past me on the run-in with a very strong descent of the near vertical Lenches.

I normally have an idea of where I've finished by counting how many people are already at the finish line but this wasn’t an exact science under the time trial format and I only learned the final result in the car.

The top 10 fell pretty much how you'd expect including a strong run from newbie Adam Pearson who has recently swapped football boots for running shoes and made a pretty much seamless transition.

So with one down, it's onto Pendle Hill for the next race. Definitely leave the Alphaflys at home for that one, Martin.

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