SEVEN members of the Lewes Wanderers Cycling Club rode the cycling odyssey known as the Mad Jack event on Saturday.
This tough Audax ride covers some of the most beautiful scenery offered by the High Weald.
Riders have to pay for the privilege of stunning vistas, investing hevily in sweat and toil as they climb a total of 2,506 metres on the circular route through Burwash, Brightling and Fairlight before the tortuous return leg to Hailsham.
Conditions on the day were challenging, with an ever-increasing swirling wind sweeping rain onto the desperate riders as they inched their way over some of the toughest climbs in Sussex.
Rob Pelham and Micky Turner covered the route in less than five hours and were the first to reach the sanctuary of the Headquarters followed by Bob Coleman, Tony Gale, Ian Landless, Peter Price and Richard Frost.
Four of the riders had little time to recover from their efforts before they attended the Lewes Wanderers annual prize giving and award ceremony at the Roebuck Inn in Laughton on Saturday evening.
An impressive turnout of 76 members and guests packed the function room, and after a sumptuous meal listened attentively as Master of Ceremonies, Chairman Chris Martin, presented the awards and trophies with the aid of a fabulous slide show underscored with Chris’s customary wry and witty comments.
The first slide of the evening encapsulated the past season to a tee, the bare statistics bearing testimony to the Wanderers stunning successes over the year.
The club notched up 11 Open wins and 19 Team wins, while an incredible 42 new club records were set. This was without question the most fruitful year in the club’s illustrious history.
The wide base of talent within the club and the diversity of its membership is reflected by the emergence of some very promising Junior talent in the form of Callum Middleton (Junior BAR winner), Dan Gardener and Patrick Hough.
Meanwhile, the legendary senior rider Horry Hemsley was awarded an age-related first place medal in the National 24 hour event, which incidentally is believed to be the first National senior medal won by any member of the club.
Other winners on the night were the fast-improving Micky Turner, who received the Middlemarkers trophy, and Peter Morris, who took victory in the Classic League. Paul Hanratty deservedly received the Zonca Bradshaw trophy, awarded for the rider who has a big heart and shows real commitment to the club, while Rose Hills was awarded the Merit Cup for her many years of marshalling duties.
Rob Pelham celebrated another fabulous season, his highlight probably being his two sub four-hour rides in the hundred event. Top dog for the season was yet again Nick Dwyer who surpassed his previous fabulous season by recording nine open wins and setting an incredible 19 new club records.
One record that Nick had set his heart on last year was Tony Deacon’s longstanding 25-mile time of 51:37 which had remained on the record books since 1984. Nick had to employ every conceivable tactic and strategy to break the time, including wind tunnel tests and elaborate time trailing paraphernalia.
Chris illustrated the differences in equipment and bikes by contrasting Tony’s bike and set up with Nick’s.
It is testimony to Tony’s talent that Nick was tested to the edge of his phenomenal abilities to finally claim the record for himself with a 51:08. Club members were honoured and thrilled in equal measure to see Tony present Nick with a new Fastest 25 cup, which in its own way was a celebration and recognition of past and present LWCC legends.
Tom Glandfield retained his Senior BAR title. This was hardly surprising as Tom, for the first time in the history of the club, had won the National Long Distance BAR title. This means he is recognised as the most successful rider in the country over the hard man distances of 100 miles and the 12 and 24-hour events. A truly stunning performance.
In recognition of the National 24 hour event held in Sussex, Chris had arranged for all members of the club who had ever ridden this most taxing of events to be presented with celebratory mugs in a light hearted recognition of their tribulations.
The roll of honour featured veteran riders of a golden era including Peter Burbery. Jeremy Meades had made the long trip from the furthest outreaches of Cornwall to be present. Social secretary Simon Yates, who, along with fellow 24 hard man Chris Martin, had helped organise the evening, were amongst those to have their efforts recognised. Simon, incidentally, is the only member of the club who has subjected his body to three tortuous 24-hour rides.
By common consent a fabulous season was fittingly crowned with a great evening looking back and celebrating the many successes of the club.
More details of all club events and activities can be found at the club website www.leweswanderers.co.uk