... there is room for considerable improvement.
Having hopefully put winter behind us, today was the first chance to open our Time Trialling account for 2014. Most of us had rocked up to the Redhill a couple of weeks back only for that to be cancelled due to ice.
In a month or so the fast courses on A roads will start opening up but this is the part of the season when the Sporting Time Trial holds sway. The course for today earned its 'Hardriders' sobriquet. A 22.6 mile loop starting near Handcross' it sets out its stall early with a half mile climb straight from the start. Nice.
For today's event the field was full of members of time trialling's royal family, the Yates' including the legend that is Sean Yates.
There were four members of the Old Ports lined up for this baby. Sadly Peter Gray had to pull out with a knee injury, apparently caused by over zealous intervals on the turbo trainer. So it was left to Ian Bashford, Dave Warne and myself. A cold damp morning, Bashers cold damp expression when I pulled up told me all I needed to know about his frame of mind. But signed on there would be no turning back.
It all started ok, I had set my sights low for this loosener. As Bash and I agreed this was a course for Warnie, quick on the climbs and fearless on the descents. The rain held off but there was a fair breeze taking the edge off the downhill bias of the first half.
I last rode this event in 2009, and had largely forgotten it, so I the pleasure of rediscovery. It was after 8 miles I noticed that I was feeling a bit lob sided. At first I dismissed it as some product of the cross wind. But when I look down the gear changer was at a very odd angle. My right tri bar had come loose. I thought about stopping to fix it. At that point I decided to crack on and ride on the tops, but I couldn't leave it alone because I needed to change gear. The bar was getting looser and looser, rattling away until at about 17 miles there was nothing for it but to stop and set about it will my allen key. It only cost me a couple of minutes but I kind of lost heart and limped home in what was a personal worst time of 1.15.32, narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon.
While I doubt Bash and Dave exactly enjoyed it they had a more profitable morning. Bash using his power to weight ratio to good effect on the downhill sections to romp home with a respectable 1.7.23. However the king of the castle was Dave with an excellent 1.4.22. Needless to say the Ports were not about to trouble the team prize.
The overall winner, was one of the Yates. Conall Yates to the win with an incredible 52.22. But nearly has impressive, Jesse Yates riding as a Junior completed the event inside an hour.
So, it was a start, not the one I hoped for but a start all the same. Next week I will get another, slighty larger helping at the East Surrey Hardriders.
Well, what a very civilised time to start a race. Three pm to be precise on the first day of spring with mild temperatures and just a little headwind down the back straight.
Seventy starters wasn't so civilised. A field this large can be read as a lot of adrenaline and nerves on the tarmac. Staying near the front would be critical to avoid the inevitable crash and carnage that was expected.
The first couple of laps were very nervy but Plan 'A' kept me out of harm's way. A London Dynamo rider made a break from the off and set himself up with a thirty second break.
A lack of concentration on the bottom 180 degree bend caused me to clip a pedal on the tarmac (if you've ever wondered what it feels like doing this it's like being woken up by having a bucket of icy water thrown over you). However, managed to survive that little incident to battle on. Kept moving forward and managed to get in a break with four other riders which saw us gain about 20 seconds on the following pack of twenty riders but no all of my follow escapees seemed committed to the break and the escape was limited to four laps at most.
There was the inevitable build up to the bell before the fizz went out of it as the bunch kept their powder dry for the bunch sprint and I found myself at the front of the peloton on the final lap, right where I didn't want to be.
I came around the final bend in about fifth place and survived the furore of a bit of wheel touching before lighting the touch paper but simply going to soon. Lost three places in the sprint to come in ninth overall. The London Dynamo chap stuck the break, chapeau.
A damp morning greeted myself, Iain H, John Gough and Alex LeBicycle on the Kent Cyclopark for the final installement of the SERRL winter crit series. A blustery sou-westerly rapidly dried out the tarmac but would bring other problems during the course of events. Close to eighty riders kicked off proceedings in the usual handicap format but with equal amounts in each cat. (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) no one was expecting the 4ths to stay away for long.
And then we were off. The crosswind was not much off of gale force occasionally pushing riders off of line by a couple of feet at at time. Th circuit runs north west to south east and a wind out of the south-west pretty much causes issues for 80% of the circuit. So it was inevitable that the groups where split to shreds within a few laps. I managed to stay away in a small bunch until lapped by two 1st cat riders. Then I was reduced to a group of three and then two before succumbing to a bunch of 2nd cats and then with two laps to go a large bunch of 3rd cats swallowed the two of us up.
Kevin Wolff.................+ 1:15 (31st)
Alex Le Bicycle.............+ 1:41 (33rd)
Iain Hawthorn..............+ 3:43 (61st)
John Gough.................+ 4:47 (65th)
Winner was Alex Paton of Pedal Heaven RT (2nd Cat)
6 Old Ports started the HOA on a cold but sunny morning. The brightness of the day disguised a black ice fest which deterred the very early starters many of whom came to grief on the slippery slopes. The early Old Ports Northern John and Luke Cutler witnessed enough come to grief to cause them to retire to a cafe at Lullingstone and do a safer ride when the temperature improved.
Julian, Mig, Pete, and myself started just after 9am and immediately became aware of the carnage as we passed many riders who had come to grief. Gingerly favouring our rear brakes we descended down the steep North Downs slope toward Brasted. Just after crossing Pilgrims way my back wheel slid and tried to join my front one as I had wandered to the shady side of the road and hit a lurking black ice sheet. Letting go of the rear brake lever saved a nasty encounter with tarmac. Soon after, by Brasted Church, we came to jam of cyclists walking to avoid the slippery bends.
We persisted over Toys Hill and witnessed many riders coming back down the hill having thought better of the steep descent on the other side. Very cautiously we descended, taking care to choose the sunny side where we could. The temperature at the lower levels was higher and the risk of ice quickly cleared and we could enjoy the ride and increase the pace. Pete was going very well and I managed to stay near to him until the first old stop where we got separated. Julian and Mig also pressed on, Mig delayed by a puncture and Julian, hampered by an ill timed turbo session on Saturday, found his Mojo at a low ebb.
The rest of the day saw all Old Ports separated and riding their own furrows over 'The Wall' of Kidds Hill and the Ashdown Forest. Having been in the small ring for so long my bike 'forgot' how to get back to the big ring so the freewheeling descent to Groombridge came as a welcome rest. Turning left at the bottom of Groombride Hill the course climbed steeply in to unfamiliar territory to me and I soon found myself alone on the road having missed one of the unmarshalled route signs. Suffice it to say I did a long and very undulating meander to regain the course on Ide Hill. After this only Star Hill and a few miles to the Finish where I found Pete who had waiting around for about half an hour for my return. After a little while Mig arrived and some banter ensued while we quaffed coffee and wolfed some pasta. Julian meanwhile was having a 'grovelly' day and did not return before we left for home.
It was a an eventful day.
Kev Wolff & I entered the Cat 4 Surrey League Road Race at the Longcross
Test Track this morning.
The Longcross Test Track is the old MoD Circuit
in Chertsey, a 2 mile closed road loop through pine forest. Possessed of a long
finishing straight and assorted corners and a sharp climb, the forecast
conditions of extreme wind was clearly something going to impact on the
After a detour to get to the circuit itself, including us actually
getting out of the car to move a tree (!), we made it in good time to sign on
and warm up. A field of 60 was deftly handled by London Dynamo. We were
surprised to find that the course had been re-routed (avoiding the corners &
climb due to much debris having been blown from the trees), instead taking a
slightly longer path but without any serious technical parts. It was therefore
pan flat and the wind would be the most serious challenge as the main run to the
finish was about half a mile into what was really a storm-force, and very
The pace was varied, with no-one really seeking to
take up any serious effort into the headwind - choosing to save energy for the
latter part of the race when pace would rise towards the final laps, or
attempting a breakaway if you could get 3 to 4 willing accomplices to work
Lap 3 saw a huge crash in the peloton (we were ahead of the
incident and unaffected); the next lap avoiding the ambulance & riders
limping back with arms in slings. Time to put that out of your mind.
both featured strongly towards the front in the early stages (I was quite
obviously benefitting from no hills!) and the pace averaging around 22 mph.
Unfortunately, 14 miles in picked up a stick in my rear cassette and was unable
to remove it whilst on the bike - even with a brave Dulwich Paragon rider
reaching down and trying to pull it out whilst we were moving! Having stopped to
remove the offending item, the lead group had gone and my attempt to chase was
in vain - solo into the wind was utter torture. No laps out were permitted with
mechanicals & feeling most upset about the experience, I withdrew - I was
feeling terrific and really thought I was in a perfect race for me.
continued to fight for OP honours, staying close to the front of the lead
peloton and covering breakaway attempts by a tactical Kingston Wheelers trio,
with the same Dulwich Paragon rider thrown in for good measure. The breakaways
failed to stick in the wind, so the final let set up for a sprint finish. Kev
tried his 'standard' move of going for an all-out attack from a long way out,
but the bunch was moving too fast to make it stick.
A VERY creditable 7th
for Kev, and 3 BC points towards his 3rd Cat Licence for 2014. A fairly decent
training ride for me, one I will regret though as having that twig stop my race
is most annoying!
Onto the SERRL Winter Series Round 4 at the Cyclopark
Sunday saw the third round in the SERRL Winter Series, the venue as ever being
my nemesis circuit - once again the Kent Cyclopark in Gravesend.
weather forecast set for rain and wind, I sort of expected the worst. Which is
exactly what I got.
After a decent warm up, during which I was quite
pleased to see the wind was southerly (giving some support out of the first
tightening right-hander, rather than hitting you squarely head-on), I thought
luck may hold the rain at bay. Legs felt good, heart rate lifting nicely and
confidence rising.. I thought maybe this ride will be better than the last
So after one final sort out of the race numbers and timing
transponder...the rain came, forcefully supported by gales and many worried
faces appearing in the assembled riders, not to say shivering bodies. The
Commissaire announced it was the largest field assembled so far.
large group of Cat 3's (chasing the outnumbered) Cat 4's, and with only one
minute apart, the chase was evidently going to be on - at which point the pace
would likely shred the field unless you had balls, and lungs, of steel. And
that's what happened - the peloton exploded with wet corners seemingly only
holding the pace down a little, some willing to place more confidence in their
rubber than others.
For the most part, I couldn't see a great deal with
fogged up glasses and water stinging the eyes. All you could really do is try
and follow the wheel in front and hope for grip, which was excellent all things
considered, some of the corners really weren't for braking in these conditions.
Getting out of the corners was either wind assisted, or total torture, every one
was a sprint to try and get the speed back up.
With about 3 laps to go,
two riders came up behind out of the dreaded first right-hander and I moved left
to let them pass. The riders decided to split either side of me - a strange
move, particularly when not in a sprint - which meant I didn't see the chap on
my left shoulder, seeing us lean on each other and me go down. Expecting other
riders to pile into me, I curled up and waited for impact - but nothing
happened, I was alone. The other guy stayed upright and had gone.
minute or two of waiting for the pain to subside, I thought that I could finish
and off I went - nothing broken, nor skin missing as far as I could
That was one amazing race really, a total test of skills and nerve.
Photos taken on the day (Digi Dave on Facebook) bear out the many grimaces and
fact that there was no real bunch - just riders digging in and taking the
Bloody marvellous, onto the MOD Circuit at Chertsey on the
following last weeks club dinner and prize presentation, for the record here is the list of trophy winners and runners up for 2013.
Well done to all! I am holding a few of the trophies awarded and plaques so will try to get these to you guys in the coming weeks if we meet up.
Maybe at the AGM (when the date is set). I am holding the trophy for John Gough (Novices award) and Hugh Pelling (consolation 25 award on handicap).
Plaques for Hugh and Julian Hutchings (endeavour award) and also for NIgel Waterfall, Mike Fowler, (for first 100 mile sportive completed).
The full list is set out below - thanks to Bashers and Dave Mercer for passing this on and Dave for organising the engraving etc - important that we have a record for posterity!
Special mention to Bashers, Dave Warne and Kevin Wolff for such strong performances again this year - and including personal bests. Dave and Bash were also right up there in the Southern Counties BAR.
Speaking for myself as an enforced bystander the past 2 years, I have to say I have been greatly impressed by the consistently great results and , as important the great turnouts by the Old Ports at events including sportives and trips such as the Duo Normand where we were probably one of the largest UK club represented. And it is great to see a bunch of Old Ports competing in road races again. Brilliant stuff. I know Don Wake would have been very proud to see that the club he joined in 1946 is in such good health when he sadly handed over the baton in 2013. I know we are a relatively small club but we punch above our weight and always have done.
I also am pleased to see the efforts of Iain Hawthorn recognised as clubman of the year as he has been the driving force (quite literally!) in organising trips such as the Duo and next year the Tour of Flanders. Thanks also go to Andy Green as Club Secretary and the rest of the committee and event organisers for keeping us on track.
All that remains is to thank you all for keeping the Old Ports going as we go into 2014.
I wish you all a great Christmas and a happy, safe and successful 2014.
Evening TT Series:
Winner: Dave Warne
Runner Up: Steve Avery
Open 10 Time Trial:
Winner: Kevin Wolff: 22min 01sec
Runner Up: Dave Warne: 22min 05sec
Open 25 Time Trial:
Winner: Kevin Wolff: 59min 10sec
Runner Up: Dave Warne: 59min 42sec
Open 50 Time Trial:
Winner: Kevin Wolff: 2hr 07min 59sec
Runner Up: Ian Bashford: 2hr 10min 11sec
Open 100 Time Trial:
Winner: Dave Warne: 4hr 40min 04sec
Runner Up: Ian Bashford: 4hr 45min 22sec
12 Hour Time Trial:
Winner@ Gary Blunt: 202.297 miles
Winner: Ian Bashford
10 of 22min 30sec
25 of 56min 41sec
50 of 2hr 02min 02sec
VETS Plus of 39min 02sec
Runner Up: Dave Warne
10 of 22min 05sec
25 of 57min 44sec
50 of 2hr 03min 14sec
VETS Plus of 37min 12sec
Senior BAR & Club Champion:
Winner: Ian Bashford
25 @ 26.463mph
Runner Up: Dave Warne
25 @ 25.982mph
50 @ 24.344mph
100 @ 21.423mph
Clubwoman of the Year: Sally Avery
Clubman of the Year: Iain Hawthorn
Riders Rider: Dave Warne
Endeavour Award: Julian Hutchings
Bay Lodge Challenge Cup: Michael Howe: For his meanderings!
Presidents 2 Up TT: Alan Dock & Kevin Wolff: 17min 11sec
Presidents Hill Climb: Kevin Wolff
Presidents Downhill: Peter Gray
Combined Up & Down: Peter Gray & Kevin Wolff
Consolation Trophy: Hugh Pelling with a handicap of: 44min 24sec
Novices Trophy: Jonathon Gough
Endeavour Award: Julian Hutchings
Four club members also completed their 1st ever 100 mile sportives this year:
Back to Kent Cyclopark for event 2 of the winter series.
A field of 40 was met with broken clouds but the de-riguer westerly down the back straight that would, again, be a major factor in the tactics.
The SERRL Winter series races are handicap races and the second event saw a bit of a tweaking to the format. First off were 4th cats, 3rd cats 60 seconds later and then the big boys of Cat 2, 1 and Elite a minute after that. Theory being that you all end up as one race. Personally I don't think that it makes for an attacking race, but hey ho on with the fun.
Lining up in the forth cats alongside me where Iain Hawthorn and Jonathon Gough ready for fifteen laps of furious fun. (two of us suffering from an excess of festivity courtesy of Mr Shiraz and Miss Stella Artois).
From the off there seemed to be a certain apathy to the forth cats with little commitment to work together to stay away from the other cats and it was just after halfway through the race when we were joined by the 3rds, and a short while later the 2nds. Everyone now committed to a bunch sprint.
The bell tolled for the last lap and I made my way to front where the inevitable red mist came down and I launched an attack with just under a lap to go. Thought process at the time was:
1. I'm not going to be placed in a bunch sprint alongside a bunch of motivated Cat 2's
2. Fortune favours the brave.
3. I'm bored.
In summary, turned myself inside out and managed to put a hundred yards into the pack, making it stick until 30 yards from the line before being caught and passed.......bugger.
12th Kevin Wolff...............1:01:26 (15 laps)
39th Iain Hawthorn.............1:04:02 (14 laps)
43rd Jonathan Gough........1:05:26 (14 laps)
No points for OPCC riders today.
The winner was Matthew Hull , SFA Racing Team (cat 2)....1:01:23 (15 laps)
Handicap Criterium racing at the Kent Cyclopark where three Old Ports gamely lined up in the 4th cats section.
A little strange to say the least, a contrived handicap race with a staggered start: 2nd cats, 4th cats and then 3rd cats (in that order) to create a single, in theory, cavalry charge on the line of all the above.
Iain Hawthorn, Jonathon Gough and yours truly took to the stage on a sunny but blustery morning where the downward leg was a fight with the wind.
JG suffered the first 'rite of passage' on his crit debut, duly clipping a pedal before getting up close and personal with the tarmac. The Croupier put up a valiant effort, but unfortunately getting spat out the back on the southern most hairpin into a headwind that punished those all who lost a wheel.
The wind put pay to any breaks but the 4th cats managed to stay away to fight it out in a bunch sprint where yours truly hung on for grim death for a 6th place.
What a great event, so much razzmatazz and much jollity for spectators. Stella and my daughter Katherine enjoyed it immensely and took a few photos which i will share at some point. For me a first CX in many many years and and lot's of fun, like the "spiral of doom' and tricky muddy track descents as well as fast sections where tree root avoidance skills were paramount. On one of the climbs I was getting wheelspin in the mud even if i sat down urgh!.
I must say the regulars at this game can certainly get a wiggle on over muddy trails and squelchy grass and, I must say, the Elites are amazing bike riders. For my first attempt (in the 21st century that is) and lacking the skills of the regulars and their fitness, of course, I was cautious and used it as a learning experience. So my 82nd place out of 87 finishers and 20 odd DNFs was a fair result for my efforts.
Afterwards I had couple of Belgian beers and a Fishdog and chips
Yes, it was an early start, I set off at 04:00 but in hindsight I could’ve had another 20 minutes in bed. However, the early start was well worth it as the Wiggle French Resistance turned out to be a ‘grand day out’.
About 600 – 700 riders took the 07:30 ferry and after free coffee and croissants onboard we disembarked in Calais in glorious sun shine. Not a cloud in the sky, however, dire warnings were given about the impending storm due to arrive at 16:00 French time. So it was all hands to the pumps for a quick ride. I was very fortunate and on the initial 10 mile block headwind start caught the Redhill CC express and managed to clock 20.5 mph for the first hour. After that I yo-yoed on and off the same train covering some lovely quiet roads with great scenery – typical French villages with the ubiquitous Tabacs and cafés. The route had plenty of long draggy hills and a couple of climbs of about between 7% - 9%, quite long too, about twice the length of Box Hill I’d say. Storm clouds were gathering and the wind was rising and after the second feed I was alone and rode the last bits of cross/head wind riding at an angle of about 45o – however when you realised you were looking at the Channel you knew the flyer home was imminent with only the last hurdle of the climb up to Cap Gris-Nez which was a real sting in the tail it being steep, long, busy and badly surfaced in parts. The down hill and flat final leg home was superb spinning out the top gear for 52mph. It was so good I had the compliment of having my own train in tow for the final 5 miles.
I clocked 4h 11m for 72 miles (I made it over 75) and finished with 17th best time, what’s better, I stayed dry. That is until we reached Dover where in the two miles back to the car I got drenched and chilled to the bone.
Apart from slight delay when riding in convoy to the ferry terminal the whole day was extremely well organised. The signage was brilliant, no chance of going off course and the feed stations were as good as ever with good selection of treats and enthusiastic helpers too! While not mountainous the route was challenging, especially with the strong wind on the day. I hope to do at least their summer event in 2014.
It's normally against my own personal code of ethics to drive for longer in a single direction then I would be pedalling. Except for very special reasons, that is. This mornings reason that saw an hour's plus drive down to Maresfield is in fact due to needing a big of a 'leg-sharpener' for the Duo.
So on a float morning, Kev 'n the Rev (gedditt.....), signed on for an hour up and down the A22 in our own personal paincaves.
For the initiated the G25/89 runs from Maresfield on the A22 out to Lower Dicker (who's name is only surpassed by it's neighbour,'Upper Dicker', no sniggering please...). A straight out and back that takes in fourteen roundabouts on a course that is compiled entirely of false flats and suits the strongmen who can power across the 'uppity' bits.
Bright sunshine and not even the hint of wind left excuses a little thin on the ground (so would appreciate it if you add some to this topic)
Scores on the doors are:
Not sure who the winner was as I left before the all the results were in but Steve Kane shot a 52:44
Chapeau to the Rev who made the trip yesterday in truly naff conditions for the 10 mile event and fired a 27:25.
Next week I believe there's a large contingent of OPCC Gladiators lining up for the VTTA 25 on the same course, I will be on Dartmoor watching the TOB and putting in some last minute preparation for the Duo, by downing a large Cream Tea (don't forget the extra think clotted cream) at any opportunity.