Ladies & Gentlemen.
Another month and another race - this time the Brighton to Brighton Sportive organised by SRS Events and running in a big loop from Hove Lawns out westwards to Shoreham, Henfield, Partridge Green and all points west.
I missed this race, last year, after having an altercation with a straw bale, on a bend, at the Blenheim Triathlon and once again ending up on the slab and under Dave Rickett's scalpel. Peter Court, Graeme Fitzjohn and Woodyboy all did it in 2012 and were quick to appraise me of what a good event I had missed. This year it was Jeff's turn to sit it out, after introducing an aerial forward roll into his cycling skills and shattering both his cycling helmet and his left scapula when re-introduced to terra firma. So Graeme/Peter whose sitting it out next year??
Anyway, after months of training where Peter and I had dragged Graeme around Sussex every Sunday morning to the point where we knew he could ride for 5 hours+ and cover over 75 miles, we found Sunday dawning clear and bright. Down on Hove Lawns the foolhardy assembled good and early with a gentle 15 mph wind blowing from the east (fun out, in yer face coming back). Registration and collection of the timing chip was painless and Peter, Graeme and I were joined by the ever youthful, ever cheerful Del Hastings, replete in Club colours. Rupert Robinson showed up, forming part of an Evans Cycling team and being hardcore that he is, nothing less than the Classic (101 miles) for him. We satisfied ourselves with the 83 miler (Challenge).
Once registered, there was no holding back and we were out onto the seafront road swishing along towards Shoreham at a rapid pace and on really quite good road surfaces!
After months of training, and with peletons everywhere, it was relatively easy to latch onto groups but the quick pace (circa 37kph) was probably a bit too much and eventually the four amigos settled into a rhythm but it was clear that Graeme & Del were happier at a less frantic cadence and so we split. The roads were lovely, the drivers considerate and with the wind at our backs we hurtled across Sussex and Surrey before arriving at the turning point (47 miles) at Kirdford. At this point Peter and I parted company, on his orders, as I was despatched after the only rider to have been through. I just saw him as he headed out, as we headed in and so I set chase after the man in SKY kit on a black Boardman.
After weeks of cycling as a training group, it felt odd to out on my own trying to chase down the lead man. Matters were not helped just towards Billingshurst were a lady driving a Range Rover seemed to take exception to my being on the road and tore up behind me with her horn blaring and gesticulating at me as she shot by. Being the shy and sensitive sort did I a) burst in to tears: or b) scream wildly back and give the full repertoire of hand signals? Well it was probably at this moment, I completely missed a right hand turn and shortly later found myself at a roundabout at which time, with no arrows to assist, I did that unheard of thing for a bloke and stopped to look at the map. Now this was easier said than done, as the print was small and my reading glasses were 30 miles away in Burgess Hill but I reckoned (or guessed) that I had to head south, so I cycled on into Billingshurst and hung a right onto the A29. About a mile later (and later looking at a map realising I added over a 2 miles to my journey) I came to a roundabout and "eh voila!" there were the signs. The hunt was back on!!
Well the rest of the journey flew by. At Ashington I locked onto the Worthing Excelsior boys and they saw me to Steyning and then it was the Club Sunday Tea shop route in reverse until Edburton where it was along the foot of The Downs towards The Devil's Dyke - and there was my quarry! I had trouble closing him down as we pedalled up the Dyke but once I was on the flat it was just a question of time before I caught him at Shirley Drive. The run down to Hove sea front was fine but the lights were a pain. I crossed the finishing line in a PB needing to beat 6 hrs to achieve Gold, so doing it in under 5 hrs was a massive result.
It was lovely to wait on the line and see the boys come safely home and as we left the Lawns, Rupert was just returning to. Definitely one for next year.
I have had a trawl of the results and as far as I can see 8 Club Members took part:
- Rupert Robinson (M41) - 6.11.49 GOLD - 101 miles
- Paul Newsome (M26) - 4.51.29 - GOLD - 83 Miles
- Andy Miles (M54) - 4.51.55 - GOLD -(included an extra few miles because I felt like it)
- Mike Jaffe (M49) - 4.57.14 - GOLD
- Peter Court (M52) - 5.06.06 - GOLD
- Del Hastings (M67) - 5.30.20 - GOLD (time included 12 mins helping Graeme change an inner tube)
- Matt Gibson (M39) - 5.59.59 - SILVER
- Graeme Fitzjohn (M48) - 6.00.50 SILVER (included the 12 minute inner tube change!!)
Well done to all involved and see you all soon when the Turbo sessions start.
Ps Really pleased to see that I am as tranquil as ever and that the competitive streak has disappeared.