LAST weekend several members of the Lewes Wanderers Cycling club braved the freezing temperatures to participate in contrasting events. On Saturday four doughty Wanderers braved Arctic conditions to take part in the Audax event, the Worthing Winter Warmer. The starting temperatures saw the mercury levels dip to an alarming –8 degrees Celsius, cold enough to persuade nearly half of original entrants to seek the refuge of the duvet rather than try to recreate a two wheeled version of Scott’s heroic failure.
After a relatively benign first section riders meet their first challenge as they approached Blackdown Hill. This is a long climb, reminiscent of some of the col climbs of France, not overly steep, but with sufficient length to build up an unwelcome accumulation of Lactic acid.
After a welcome refuelling stop the ride continued with a nerve racking technical descent, with many unexpected hairpin bends taxing the rider’s skill and nerve to the extreme. By midday the temperature had soared to a giddy five below freezing. Thankfully all of the Lewes riders (Ian Landless, Tony Gale, Peter Baker and Micky Turner) completed the ride without mishap. The following day five Wanderers took part in a London Team championship cyclo cross event at Haywards Heath. Crawley Wheelers had devised a devilish course, which included some technical descents along the way. Conditions on the course were tough with lingering snowdrifts and compacted ice seeing many fallers along the way.
As the race progressed the circuit became coated with a layer of mud increasing the difficulty of the ride.
Mark Winton, Sam Ramsey, Steve Burgess, Rob Pelham and Doug Gardener were at the start line with Mark being the first Wanderer home. Dan Gardener competed in the Junior event and had a baptism of fire, having eight falls along the way. Dan reported that he thoroughly enjoyed his first cyclo cross experience and, with youthful exuberance, commented that he cannot wait until the next race.
I am not sure if some of the more senior members of the squad will be expressing similar sentiments as they nurse bruised and battered bodies throughout the week.
This Saturday the Wanderers are holding their annual prize giving and award dinner at the Roebuck Inn at Laughton, with more than 80 members expected to attend. A key feature of the evening is a celebration of the 24 Hour event, which will feature every current member of the club who has ridden the iconic ride, including Jeremy Meades who will be making the long journey from Cornwall to take part in the celebrations.
More details of club rides and activities can be found at the website www.leweswanderers.co.uk