A dramatic week of racing for the Lewes Wanderers saw some splendid achievements and record setting rides.
The headline event of the week was the first round of the Lewes Crits, splendidly organised by Chris Hough ably supported by members of the Lewes club.
Last Thursday, 49 riders lined up for the opening round of this year’s LWCC 50km Evening Criterium series – five laps of a dry but windy Laughton circuit.
The strong easterly wind meant any groups or individuals who became detached from the main field would not regain contact and only the strongest riders would break off the front.
Lewes fielded a strong team, along with ASL 360, Brighton Mitre and Crawley Wheelers, with some smaller, but very capable teams, such as Southdowns Bikes, joining them.
The first lap was the fastest in recent years and Wanderers were quick to show themselves at the front with Jamie Lowden taking the first sprint prime from John Cordner (Eastbound Rovers) and Pete Morris, who is riding for ASL 360 this year.
Lowden and Morris were first and second in the remaining sprints with Rob Pelham (LWCC) making up the trio.
The main group of riders had already split on the first lap, due to a relentless pace set at the front of the bunch, with other Lewes riders, Dominic Lowden, Tom Glandfield, Neil Midgley and Nick Dwyer, helping drive the field.
This acted as a springboard for Jamie Lowden, Pelham and Morris to attack off the front and signified an early night for others, struggling to stay with the pace.
Simon MacNamara from Southdowns Bikes, who ominously tucked himself into the group for the remainder of the race, joined the three-man breakaway.
By the penultimate lap there were three groups on the road, with a couple of individual riders left to fend for them.
Pelham looked increasingly strong as he drove the break on the last lap, but it was unclear who would have the power left for the final sprint.
Pelham and Lowden led home after opening a gap on MacNamara and Morris.
The only unnerving element in a good evening’s work for the Wanderers was Pelham’s near disastrous attempt at a victory salute, the effort he had put in during the race clearly catching up with him.
Last Monday, the LWCC Evening Ten incorporated the Tandem challenge. It was won by seasoned tandem campaigner Peter Baker and novice rider Micky Turner, who did well on a windy night to record a fast time of 21:53.
Second pair home were the long distance specialists Paul Gibbons and John Miller (23:06), followed by three-wheeled aficionado Adrian Hills riding with Simon Yates (31:50) on a precarious looking tandem trike. After the race an ashen-faced Simon reported that it was his first and last time on said machine.
Jamie Lowden was again a star performer and recorded his first Open win in the VTTA 10, based at East Hoathly and held on Saturday morning.
In blustery conditions, unfavourable for fast times, Jamie stormed round the course in a lightning time of 21:54, sharing first place honours with Matthew Woods of Eastbourne Rovers.
Other Wanderers times on the day were: Tom Glandfield 22:38, Michael Valks 23:48, Peter Baker 23:51, Dom Lowden 23:58 and Stephen Gaston 25:31.
The following day, four Wanderers headed out to the fast course near Bentley to take part in the Reading CC 50. The nagging wind suggested that this was not to be a fast day, though Nick Dwyer, Rob Pelham and Jamie Lowden appeared not to have read that particular script by smashing the club team 50 record by setting times of 1:49:27, 1:52:15 and 1:53:24 respectively.
The three boys also won the team prize. Dom Lowden (2:06:00) was the fourth Wanderer and the overall event was won by James Gilfillan of Velo Refined in 1:45:59.
Other members of the Lewes team opted to ride in the Crawley Wheelers 41.6, on a hilly course tracing a circular route around Handcross via Henfield. The Lewes riders had mixed fortunes on the day with Phil Allen being the top finisher (1:42:50), followed by Neil Midgley (1:48:35), Micky Turner 1:51:08 and Sam Ramsey 1:53:10. Your correspondent was a DNF, puncturing some three miles into the race.
Chris McNamara of Pedal Heaven won the event in an astounding time of 1:35:32.
Thursday sees the final round of the Lewes Crits, with riders starting at 7.15pm at Laughton. With positions at the top being very close, the evening promises thrills all the way in what should again be a gripping and closely fought contest.
More details of all these events and further club activities can be found at www.leweswanderers.co.uk
Rob Pelham (followed home by Jamie Lowden) taking the win on last Thursday’s Lewes Crits road race. Picture: Simon Yates.