SULTRY conditions made racing something of a lottery last weekend as members of the Lewes Wanderers Cycling club covered large areas of Southern England in pursuit of fast times, hoping in the process to dodge the predicted thundery outbursts.
The big news of the weekend was that Nick Dwyer has, as predicted, managed to break the club 10 record, lowering Rob Pelham’s time by one second. Nick had travelled to race on a circuit near RAF Fairford on a course flat as the adjoining airfield. He flew round in an incredible time of 19:55, the fastest of the day.
Shortly after Nick had completed his ride, the threat of rain became a reality and the leaden skies opened to make the course unsafe to ride, forcing the organisers to abandon the race. There remains some uncertainty if Nick’s record time will be confirmed due to the abandonment, but at the moment the general consensus is that it will still count as a record-breaking ride.
The following Sunday, four Wanderers rode in the Norwood Paragon 25 based near Broadbridge Heath. Early starters were unlucky to be drenched with a ferocious downpour, which left the course dangerously slippy for the rest of the riders. The greasy conditions saw several fallers but thankfully there were no serious injuries on the day.
The Lewes team had the rain gods on their side as they all missed the heavy rain and only had to contend with the greasy roads. Nick Dwyer continued his impressive march to glory in wining the event in an impressive time of 53:27. He was awarded the Robin Buchan Memorial Salver to celebrate his victory.
Rob Pelham had a welcome return to top form coming home in second spot in a fast 54:18. Peter Morris in a time of 57:01 teamed up with Nick and Rob to claim team award for the fastest team of three riders. Dominic Lowden had another splendid ride and managed to dip under the magic hour mark by ten seconds.
Five hard men spurned the triviality of riding a paltry 25-mile event to embark on a legendary journey over a 400km course from Hailsham to Winchester and back. John Miller, Chris Martin, Peter Baker, Paul Gibbons and Richard Frost left Hailsham at 6am with the weather set fair. The adrenalin must have been coursing through the veins as John, Peter and Paul sped off to record an average, some might say suicidal pace, of 23 miles an hour for the first five miles, before they settled into a more realistic pace for the rest of the route.
Paul had to pull out of the event at Midhurst, within sight of the finish with knee pains. The remaining four managed to complete the ride, experiencing many highs and lows on the way.
The nadir of the ride for Chris and Richard was to arrive at a service station at Petersfield sodden from a vicious storm and badly in need of a hot tea and bacon sandwich, only to discover the station was just shutting due to staff shortages. Such a setback would have broken lesser men, but Chris and Richard gamely carried on, completing the ride at 5.30am Sunday morning.
Chris, Paul, Peter and John are among nine or so Wanderers preparing for the National 24 Hour time trial which is scheduled for June, so this weekend ride gives all the riders a significant confidence boost that they are in tip top condition to tackle the formidable 24 hour challenge that awaits. More details of all these events and other activities can be found on the club’s website at www.leweswanderers.co.uk