“BRITAIN SET FOR 70 MPH WINDS and TORRENTIAL RAIN!’ screamed the headlines in the Saturday paper.
6:00 a.m. Will Paul W call and suggest we DNS today? No call. He’s waiting to see if I’ll call him.
7:15 I arrive in Merlin Way. Paul is ready and waiting. Overcast, not too much breeze. Forecast suggests a brief dry window from 8:00 to 9:00. Then rain. Off to the Lewes Wanderers ‘Gentlemen’s GP’. It rains on the drive over.
8:15 We stick our noses out of Laughton Village Hall, wet roads but no rain. 10 minute warm up ride to the start. I sit on Paul’s wheel. It seems uncomfortably quick. Maybe once I get the legs going….
8:34 The one team ahead of us have wimped out. We’re first off. It starts to rain lightly.
Paul does his best to avoid the standing water. All the same I face a choice. Tuck in close, get pelted with gritty water and keep my mouth closed…. or hang back, regain my breath and lose the tow. Neither option offers me any clear sight of where Paul is. In the spray? Receding into the distance? I yo-yo indecisively.
8:50 Light rain becomes heavy rain for 5 or 10 minutes. At least it’s clean water. ‘Dry Line!’ I yell (unplanned communication)
9:00 I can feel the energy dribbling steadily out of my legs. Paul drops me on the first gentle rise. ‘OI!’ (pre-arranged communication).
9:10 Left at the fourth roundabout. Every turn seems to be into the wind. Gentle rises? They feel like proper hills now. Paul regularly sits up and freewheels down the hills to let me get back on. The rain has abated but as soon as I latch on the soaking starts again.
9:15 The final drips of energy have run out through my sodden socks. In desperation I go for the granny ring. The chain unships. Frantic scrabbling with the ergo-paddles and it’s back on the big ring before I actually stop. Paul is freewheeling again.
9:20 Earwig corner. Damn. We’re caught. I grind up the hill. My matches are way too damp to light. Paul alongside urging (shoving?) me on.
Downhill to the finish. 50 kph claims Paul. I fail to sprint past him. No surprise there.
9:44 Laughton Village Hall. DRY CLOTHES! CAKE! TEA! NOT LAST! BLISS!
And thanks to Peter Bedingfield for an entertaining report !