WITH the weather as uncertain as the Greek economy, the prospects of notching up some fast times at the BEC CC 25 event receded incrementally as blowy weather saw ominous clouds scuttle across the skyline.
The course on a favourable day can be fast but due to the poor conditions most riders clocked up times about two minutes outside their personal bests. Early riders were comparatively favoured as the downpours held off but anything but glorious July weather handicapped some of the later riders in the capacity field of 120.
With riders hurtling around the Broadbridge Heath course at speeds up to 40 mph the prospect of approaching one of the 20 or so roundabouts was not warmly anticipated and some riders experienced some twitchy moments as the narrow tyres barely kissed the road as they slid along the greasy surface. In such conditions technical bike handling skills are as much a prerequisite as raw power and speed.
The Lewes Wanderers squad made light of the weather and stormed around the course to snatch a team victory in a closely-fought tussle with the BEC team. Top Lewes rider Rob Pelham warmed up for the event by riding some 30 miles to the start from Uckfield in the pouring rain to scorch around the course in a fast time of 55:25, fast enough to secure fourth position on the day, before riding back home in torrential rain to get some more training miles under his belt. Rob, along with Pete Morris (57:25) and Tom Glandfield (57:57), put in strong rides to capture the team prize.
Two up and coming Lewes stars broke a significant psychological barrier to join the sub-hour club.
Neil Midgley was pacing around the headquarters like a nervous expectant father, and when the magic figure of 59:56 was inked on the board, a spontaneous and warm round of applause celebrated his time.
Mark Frost was similarly delighted to break the hour and recorded a stunning time of 59:04 to obliterate his previous best time.
To record such times on a day when only three or four riders recorded PBs suggests that even faster times lay around the corner for these two talented riders.
The overall event was won by East Grinstead’s Steve Dennis who blew away the field to cross the line in an outrageously fast time of 52:53. On the Veteran’s front, Oliver Tuckley (1:02:28), John Mankelow (1:09:26) and your correspondent (1:03:21) have provisionally received medals for the best three aggregate times for Surrey and Sussex Vets on the card.
The club’s in-house competitions are being closely contended and with only a few events remaining, it seems most of them will go down to the wire. In the points competition, Matt Coombs has a healthy lead, with Pete Morris, your correspondent and Chris Martin desperately trying to peg him back.
In the Middlemarker series, an event designed to encourage up and coming riders who have not dipped below 25 minutes for a ten, or 1:05:00 for a 25 race, in the previous three seasons, sees a ding-dong battle between Micky Turner and young Callum Middleton.
The destiny of the splendid trophy will hinge on the final three races on the calendar.
This Sunday a strong Lewes squad heads out to Partridge Green in what promises to be an epic battle for honours. The Southern Counties CU 100 mile defending champion, Rob Pelham, looks in tip-top form but will be up against some top-notch riders, including national champion runner up Julian Jenkinson.
For more details on all these events, plus club activities, visit the club website, at www.leweswanderers.co.uk