Video courtesy Mike Anton
Ben Hardisty writes…
It was two years ago that we last rode this event as a four up team. For whatever reason we didn’t ride last year, but this year Mike had reminded everyone of the date, giving us all about a month’s notice to get in shape ! We were all up for it.
We arrived on the line with the four riders in various “shades of fitness”. Stef was somewhat lacking his usual sharpness, perhaps his 14 month old daughter can take the blame here. Jon however was returning triumphant from a rowing festival in Munich with gold medal in hand. Ben was err spending the season trying to get back into shape. Mike was very encouragingly showing some excellent form in the previous month (but had inexplicably decided to ride an 80 miler the day before).
Two practice rides on the Crawley course in the weeks beforehand were to prove invaluable. The first get together was a bit of a shambles but some lessons were learned (warm up please Ben). The second practice was much better, concentrating on the through and off formation, keeping the four together and intact. Momentum is everything and if you drop a rider then valuable time is lost.
On the day the wind speed was slightly higher than expected, and heading into it to the first turn (5 miles) we could only muster a 23.5mph average. Slightly worrying you might think, but this was made up by having a tailwind to the next turn (12 miles) by which point we had upped to well over 25mph. Our target was a sub hour ride for the 25 miles so all we had to do was keep this average up. Easier said than done as the next 7 mile stretch was back into the wind again. This was really tough with Mike and Jon particularly, putting in big shifts on the front.
At the final turn (19 miles) our average had dropped to 24.4 so now we were going to have to go all out for the final six miles to hit our target. This stretch was the lumpiest part of the course and even with the wind behind and with 4 miles to go our average hadn’t moved much. But by now everyone was having short sharp bursts on the front and we were really cranking it up.
Later while checking my garmin track I noticed our speed for the final three miles was averaging over 30mph. And it needed to be as we crossed the line at 0:59:53 giving us a margin of only 7 seconds ! We had achieved our target but it was mighty close.
Meanwhile Ben Crick and Geoff Watson were riding as a two up. As they were waiting to start they gave us a cheer as we came past to start our second lap. We could return the compliment a short while later after we had finished. Ben and Geoff have both been in terrific form this year and they completed the course in an excellent 0:59:16. Both teams managed a sub hour ride !
Mike had put some small digital cameras on the front and rear of his and Jon’s bikes to record the ride. We await the results with interest…
This is an excellent event – keep the same weekend next year free !