SIX pairs of Lewes Wanderers riders were represented within a strong field of 60 as they lined up to take part in the ESCA two up event-based around Laughton last week.
A Dickensian pea-souper saw competitors emerge ethereally from the gloom with powerful rear lights pulsing out warning signals as they arrived at the headquaters.
Thankfully the April sun cut through the swathe of swirling mist to reveal a glorious early morning Spring day, making conditions just about ideal. The absence of wind was particularly welcomed by riders, as a nagging headwind, particularly around Earwig Corner, can test the legs and resolve of even the strongest riders.
The route set off down the Broyle, which saw the teams hurtling along at breakneck speeds.After a tight turn at Kennel corner wheels devoured the tarmac along a fast but undulating section up to Golden Cross.
After reaching the Little Horsted roundabout the terrain has a few tricky climbs before a long blast towards Earwig corner. At this point the lactic acid levels are starting to rise, and the body is sending desperate signals to slow down.
Riders’ brains act counter-intuitively to filter these warnings and demand riders to push on regardless. The steady climb up to Ringmer examines the rider’s fitness and mental resolve until being rewarded with a brief respite along the fast stretch through Ringmer before one final lung-bursting climb up the Broyle to the embrace welcome release of the finishing line.
Throughout the ride the team of two aims to stay as closer as possible for, as mentioned in last week’s article, teamwork and sharing the workload reap rich dividends in this most taxing of disciplines.
The Lewes squad had certainly benefited from their experiences in the SCA two up event of the previous week, with some pairings showing a spectacular improvement.
Pre-race speculation was at fever pitch, with most pundits finding it hard to split the Wanderers Rob Pelham and Nick Dwyer from East Grinstread dynamic duo, and last year’s winners, Steve Dennis and Alan McInnes. Both teams had incredibly fast rides but, as last year, the East Grinstead boys just edged out Team Lewes to snatch victory by an agonising three seconds. The winners’ time of 52:44 was some three minutes faster than their winning time of last year.
All the Lewes members had super rides. Pete Morris and the formidable Tom Glandfield crossed the line in third place in a rapid 53:38, with James Ryan and Rob Rolling finishing fifth in 56:23. Your correspondent, along with Neil Midgley, were the next to complete the ride. Despite a 20-year age gap, we had an enjoyable ride, just missing breaking the hour mark by 13 seconds, a time fast enough earn ninth place overall.
Ride of the day though must go to Chris Martin and Natasha Fuller, who stormed around the course, with the experienced Chris drawing out the best from the fast improving Natasha to finish in a time of 1:00:52. This stunning ride earned the talented pairing first prize in the mixed event.
Chris is certainly coming back into form after many years in the cycling wilderness and he was delighted to pick up his first prize in an open event since 2001!
For the record Chris and Natasha’s time was quicker than some very strong men pairings, a testament to the quality of their ride.
Father and Daughter, John and Kate Mankelow, were pleased to record a time of 1:05:52 to round off a stunning performance by team Lewes, which saw five of pairings in the top ten.
With so many riders in such fine form, next week’s club event, the Circuit of Danehill, promises to be a closely fought contest.
The first rider off is at 8:30am, and for more details of this event see the Lewes Wanderers website at www.leweswanderers.co.uk