St. Andrews Fete Grass Track

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St. Andrew's Summer Fete Grass Track Meeting

Sunday 14 June 2009, Calton Avenue, Hertford
Team Welwyn Promotion; Thanks to Simon Layfield

Riders and spectators alike enjoyed brilliant sunshine for the annual Hertford St. Andrew’s JMI School Summer Fete Grass Track Meeting. While visitors enjoyed all the fun of the fete, they could also take in some top class cycle racing on St. Andrew’s challenging and technical 160 metre grass track, marked out for a day of cycling fun.

Setting the scene was a thrilling 3,000 metre Scratch Race with the tight bends testing some riders skills to the max as they fought for speed in the straights and control in the un-banked corners. With some riders finding the distance and the consistently high pace a little too much, there were only six finishers with Richard Lambert (Cottingham Coureurs) taking the honours ahead of recent 800 metre Grass Track Bronze medallist Tom Gosbee of the promoting club, Team Welwyn, and Bryan Taylor (VC Londres). Fourth position was taken by revelation of the day, under 14 rider Alan Trolove of West Suffolk Wheelers.     

In the St. Andrew’s Devil, riders had to keep a careful check on the laps, with extractions only taking place every other lap. With the pace again high, the judges’ work was made relatively easy in the early stages but there were some close calls in the latter half of the race. This time Gosbee turned the tables on Lambert for the win with Bryan Taylor again in third place and Trolove showing that his placing in the opened race was no fluke, with another fourth place finish.

In the Handicap Sprint for Women and Youth Riders Trolove, paid for his earlier efforts and could finish only third, a fine win being taken by Karen Lifford (Team VC Nottingham) from George Bateman (Welwyn Wheelers). With barely time to recover between events, the riders took to the track again for the Unknown Distance, which turned out to be three and a half kilometres in length - they didn’t expect that!

Tom Gosbee kept the name of the promoting club at the top of the leader board with another convincing win, pushing Richard Lambert into second place and with Bryan Taylor taking third spot yet again, while there was a new name in fourth with Phil Lisher (Team Welwyn).

The 3,000 metre Madison had mixed teams with a Veteran rider in every team but one and featured some exciting racing and brought some new names into the frame. Leading team were Tom Gosbee and Peter Lifford (Becontree Wheelers) riding as the ‘Green Team’. They narrowly beat the ‘Black Team’ of Simon Layfield (Team Welwyn) and Alan Trolove into second place, with both the leading teams having opened a gap on the field.

In third were the ‘Emergency Yellow’ team of Andrzej Bojarski and Pete Whelan, while the ‘Red Team’ of George Bateman and Richard Lambert were fourth, closely followed by the ‘Ordinary Yellow’ team of Phil Lisher and grass track novice Arthur Knowler (Southend Wheelers), with the ‘Blue Team’ of Bryan Taylor and Karen Lifford taking sixth spot in a closely fought crowd pleaser.

Final event of the day was the 5,000 metre Scratch but this was preceded by a grass track favourite, the Hoop Race. Requiring an eagle eye and the ability to stop on a sixpence the Hoop Race is a true test of man and machine. In this case it also featured a ‘World Hoop Race Champion’ in the form of Karen Lifford who took the title at the Mildenhall Rally in 2008. Unfortunately on this occasion, Karen was not successful in her speciality event with her husband, Peter Lifford, snatching the win from Andrzej Bojarski in a nail biting finale after they had cruelly knocked out their under 14 challenger, Alan Trolove, who finished third.

Onto the final event of the day, a tough 31 lap event run at high speed with the field starting to fragment from the early stages as the hammer went down from the start. Finding his grass track legs at the end of the day’s programme, Bryan Taylor came through for the win, out pacing Phil Lisher in the closing stages, while Tom Gosbee had fought his way back into contention after missing the break but was tailed off to finish third. Once again a there was a brilliant fourth place for Alan Trolove, who was well clear of Richard Lambert and Pete Whelan.

As part of the Fete Programme, there was also a series of Freewheeler races for riders from the Hertford St. Andrew’s Go Ride Club and attendees at the Fete. With ages ranging from reception class students to 11 year olds, there was plenty of exciting racing and enthusiastic support from watching parents. Starting their programme with a Scratch Race, the young riders One Lap event was a good win for Chelsie Bowler from Thomas Peters, Jay Harrington and Amie Bowler. The Not Quite so Young Riders three lap event saw Bradley Clark storm home for the win ahead of Phoebe Lisher, Conor Clark (no relation) and Abbey Clark.

The Freewheelers Hoop Race was great fun with riders showing a strong competitive instinct and great timing as they sought out the diminishing supply of hoops. Conor Clark proved the best at this event, narrowly pushing Abbey Clark (no relation) into second place with Mickey Dear third, Alfie Groom fourth and the excellent Chelsie Bowler fifth. Sixth place was taken by Jaimie Rowe with Matthew Cutmore seventh after a tightly fought challenge for their hoop. 

Using the excellent bike handling skills they have acquired through the St. Andrew’s Go Ride sessions, and Team Welwyn Go Ride Sessions (held at The Sele School every Thursday evening), the riders next tackled a skills based time trial, involving a dismount and remount and a limbo challenge for every rider. First place was taken by Phoebe Lisher in a time of 30.92, second was Bradley Clark 33.25, just behind in third was Emma Norris with 33.50, while Jaimie Rowe took fourth place in 34.55.

Riders then took on a two lap Slalom Start Handicap with start positions decided on the basis of the skills time trial. Leading the field away were Amie Bowler and Dominic Harrey but they were unable to hold the lead and were overhauled by Thomas Peters for the win, narrowly holding off a flying Abbey Clark, with Jay Harrington third and Chelsie Bowler again showing her mettle in fourth.

The final Free Wheeler event was a team relay event with the ‘Pink and Yellow Team’ taking on the ‘All Other Colours’ in a seven rider relay. With the event involving both speed and skill, as riders faced a fast paced dismount to hand over the ‘baton’ to their waiting team mate, it looked to be a close run thing in the early stages until the ‘All Other Colours’ team opened up a commanding lead in the late stages of the race and came home for an excellent win to round off the Summer Fete events.