ESCA 25

Steve Dennis writes…

Major, long-term roadworks in this district have, over the last couple of seasons, been a serious headache for event promoters and officials alike. Last Sunday’s ESCA 25 promotion was no exception with traffic lights on a large section of A22 north of Halland making the usual G25/89 a non-starter, an alternative course had to be found.

Eastbourne Rovers had the same dilemma back in August and it was decided to devise a course that went west on the A272 through Piltdown, Newick and Scaynes Hill. Not the flattest bit of road, it has to be said!

Despite having to find several extra marshals, promoter Richard Blackmore was able to allow 8 East Grinstead riders a ride including Mikey Weavers riding his first 25. There was a fair splattering of talent on the start list including Conall Yates, Steve Kane and Pete Morris, who have all been taking large chunks of time out of me for the last couple of seasons or so, so I wasn’t really expecting to be top of the leader board on this occasion either.

The day dawned well with only a few patches of mist in the dips and a slight breeze out of the North East. As I rode out to the start I noticed the finishing riders wearing arm warmers, so I imagined it was a little cooler earlier on. Such was not the case at ten to eight, my start time as I stomped on the pedals after a good shove from Mr Winkley, heading for the first of many roundabouts.

The first part of the course could confuse anyone who didn’t read the start sheet well enough as there is a bit of short sharp out-and-back bits to negotiate, but when on the A272 it’s just a case of follow the road until you’re told to turn. The tail-wind on the westward leg made the going a little easier – until you reached Scaynes Hill whereby it was a case of every man for himself. Anyone who had over-cooked it until that point was certainly going to suffer! The road surface after the hill, and as far as the turn on the outskirts of Haywards Heath deteriorates and rises steadily so Chris and Steve’s smiling faces at the turn were a welcome sight.

The return leg was a case, as in most time trials, of bury yourself with every last bit of remaining energy. The 40 mph decent of Scaynes Hill was a reward for the effort. It wasn’t time to relax though as there are quite a few nasty little rises on this road and into a strengthening head wind. Just after the decent I saw Steve Kane heading out and was convinced he was well up on me at this point, but not deterred I pressed on wary of the long drag up to the finish on the Maresfield by-pass. Crossing the line I stopped the clock at 55:03 – that’s 27.5mph! I couldn’t believe it. Where did that come from!

To my delight I was fastest on the result board with only Mr Kane to come in. Split times out on the course had us at seconds apart so when he returned with 55:21 I breathed a sigh of relief. He said he cramped up in the last five miles.

After two unsuccessful attempts, I had finally won the Brian Philips Memorial Trophy, which I think went down well with club members.