Rude Awakening for Smith

Southend Wheelers’ Chris Smith receives a tough wake-up call on his 3rd Category debut
while Jamie Maidment just misses out on his first point of the season.

Barely two months after taking the start of his first ever Criterium race, Chris Smith has progressed from the sport’s fourth to third category in just seven races. With his freshly-minted 3rd category licence, the Rochford rider wasted no time in taking on his new peers - pitting himself against some of the more established riders - in the final round of East London Velo’s Winter Series at Hog Hill, East London.
“The pace was savage from the start!” recalled the 24-year old legal clerk. “It was good fun, but I haven’t quite learnt the importance of positioning in the race yet and that cost me dearly.”

Having entered the combined 2nd,3rd and 4th Category race at the Redbridge Cycling Centre venue, Smith had been keen to see how he well he could perform on his debut against more experienced competition.

The difference became quickly apparent.

“I should have stuck near the front of the bunch as, after just fifteen minutes of racing, the peloton split up and I had to take a very big pull (on the front of the chasing group) to bring us back to the leaders.”

Smith was initially frustrated that his ten fellow pursuers were not taking turns to lead the chase down, but as the newcomer felt it only good manners to literally, lead by example and do his bit. He was perhaps a little naïve to the fact that his wilier companions were allowing him to do the main bulk of the work for their benefit.

Such were his efforts that a glance down to monitor the data on his bike’s on-board computer showed that his heartrate was over 30 BPM (beats per minute) over the highest he had ever recorded.

Not only that, a bruising headwind was also taking its toll.

“I lost the wheel immediately in front of and that was it, I ended up off the back with two others. One dropped off but we were able to collect another couple of guys shelled out of the main group by a combination of the brutal pace and the battering effects of the wind.”

Unfortunately for Smith, his new companions were in no mood – or shape – to forge an alliance and together, fight their way back into contention.

In fact, the race became one of attrition, with Smith eventually left to race in the company of a single rider as the pack prepared to lap them after nearly an hour of doggedly holding it at bay.

When the pair was eventually swallowed up by the peloton, Smith was asked by the race commissaires to retire as a lapped rider. Looking at the positives, Smith said: “It was good fun and great training for the future.”

In the afternoon’s solely 4th Category race, Smith’s Wheelers teammate Jamie Maidment enjoyed one of his best results of the ELV Winter Series.

Having worked hard in the previous rounds to help Smith achieve his 3rd Category spurs, the chef from Maylandsea was free to cook up his own result.

“I worked the hardest in this race than I did in any of the previous seven. I sat in (the bunch) for the first five laps, then spent three laps pushing it on the (short but viciously steep Hoggenberg) hill. I then sat in the main group again for another five laps to recover before pushing at the front again, making sure I was in the right place for the final sprint,” explained Maidment.

Such were his efforts, that Jamie’s explosive bursts had split the field of over forty down to a final selection of thirteen riders. As matters came to a boil, Maidment neatly turned up the gas but in the dash for home he was just pipped to 10th place and his first Category point.

Jamie Maidment at Hog Hill


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