THE main event on the racing calendar this weekend was the iconic ESCA 100-mile time trail. The Lewes Wanderers squad had another fantastic outing with every single member of the team putting in some incredible performances on the day.
A calm early Sunday morning greeted the riders as they set off, nervously anticipating the pain that lay ahead. The course is a complex one and traces a mazy passage along the A22 before heading towards Bexhill. The most testing part of the course is along the Wartling section where tough climbs coupled with pock scarred roads start to sap the strength away from lactic riddled muscles.
Around the 80-mile mark many riders looked at their elaborate computers to be fed back the unwelcome news that their average speed had started to drop. Similar to the 21-mile wall of pain in the marathon, riders have to battle on, and, in the case of cyclists, have to resign themselves to a further hour of pain, desperately trying to fight against the survival instincts of surrender coursing through wracked bodies and march on to the finish.
The Lewes squad responded manfully in magnificent fashion and went on to flood the honours board in a reflection of the grit, resolve and talent that is deeply ingrained into the fabric of the club.
Whether it is better to travel in hope rather than expectation on the 100-mile examination is something of a moot point. Novices at the distance at least had the advantage of not having their minds clouded in the fearful trepidation experienced by riders who had sampled the pain in previous excursions. Matt Coombs underlined his potential, clocking a phenomenal time of 4:14:23; Neil Midgley knocked an astounding 19 minutes off his previous PB to record an impressive time of 4:20:34; and the fast improving Oliver Tuckley recording a splendid 4:23:43.
Micky Turner finished in a fast time of 4:26:30, with the gallant Sam Ramsey crossing the line in 4:44:57. Reigning champion Rob Pelham had another magnificent outing but his time of 3:54:44 was not quite fast enough to eclipse the impressive Andy Miles of VC Elan who deservedly won the event in a rapid time of 3:50:04. Your correspondent came home in 4:30:03 (a PB), a time fast enough to earn second place on standard (standard is an age-related award). John Mankelow covered the 100-mile distance in a creditable time of 4:54:10.
Rob, along with Nick Dwyer (4:03:36) and Tom Glandfield (4:10:54), retained their team trophy to round off a sensational days racing.
On Saturday two of the Wanderers headed out to the familiar Broadbridge Heath course to take part in the Epsom 10. With favourable conditions fast times were posted, Glandfield coming home in 21:22 with Mark Paton close behind on 21:37.
The following day saw the running of the Old Portlians 25. Mark rounded off a very successful weekend and clocked up a PB with a rapid 56:16 with Pete Morris in his wake with a time of 57:09.
Away from the time trialling scene, Peter Baker missed his first ESCA 100 for 20 years. He’d clearly decided the 100-mile event was not demanding enough and had elected to cross the channel to take part in the legendary Paris-Brest-Paris Audax event.
This epic event is run every four years and covers a mind blowing 1,238km of pain, which has to be covered within 80 hours. At the time of going to press Peter was well into his journey and was eating up the miles in this the most gruelling and taxing of events.