Mike Anton writes…
With yet another new roundabout being built on the A24, Steve was involved in hastily devising a new 25 course over the summer. G25/53E is essentially two laps of G10/57, with the start and halfway turn at Robin Hood Lane roundabout. The removal of the climb up Tollgate hill was welcomed by many though the ups and downs of the Southwater section were missed by some. I think the removal of the two ascents of the Moorhead ‘ski jump’ climb would have been welcomed by everyone if it had been possible.
The arrival of the startsheet saw one of our biggest turnouts in quite a while, with ten Grinnies down to ride. Some pre-race geeking confirmed that race organiser Colin Derrick had done an excellent job laying the field out to ensure that none of us would get back to the half way turn just as another was about to start. Unfortunately Kev had to DNS beforehand but this didn’t detract from what would be a tight battle on the day.
As one of the last 25s of the season, hopes were high of a good fast morning. With the weather the week beforehand being very calm and pleasant, a float morning was on the cards. These are those elusive days where the air temp is ‘just right’ and there’s low pressure and little wind.
Come race day, the conditions were looking a little cool and misty on the drive up but this did indicate little wind. Parking in Broadfield I’d planned on riding to the HQ along a good chunk of the course as a warm up. Dropping on to the course, I quickly spot Mr Crick walking along the eastbound carriage way. Disaster, he’d punctured at 5 miles! After some quick calculations, I rode back to get the car and collected Ben before heading on to the HQ.
A cautious start into the mist saw the average speed start to rise just in time for the Moorhead climb. This is a short drag up and over the London – Horsham railway but it defeats me every time and the hard won average speed had nosedived by the top.
With my head now totally in the wrong place I chug on eastwards into brighter conditions. The return from Crawley is usually faster and I slowly dragged the average backup mindful that I was making a mess of things and still hadn’t reached halfway.
A better run on the 2nd lap sees me actually catching some slower riders on the way back to Faygate. However the average still isn’t coming up fast enough and instead of digging in and burying myself, I carry on at the same effort, vainly hoping it’d be enough. The fast descent to Rusper always helps the cause but the finish is still nearly 0.5 miles away and it feels like 5. Crossing the line I grimace at the Garmin and see that I had actually managed a small improvement on my fastest time of the year.
Back at the HQ the times eventually come in and we learn that Maddy convincingly won the ladies event with 1:00:04, nearly 3 ½ mins ahead of 2nd place. Steve had an excellent ride to fourth with 52:06. Chris McNamara was the fastest man with 50:53.
Steve Dennis 0:52:06
Mike Anton 0:59:36
Maddy Lee-Smith 1:00:04
Simon Neave 1:00:46
Geoff Watson 1:00:49
Paul Winkley 1:01:32
Richard Woodward 1:03:05
Ben Hardisty 1:04:57
Ben Crick DNF
Kevin Bashford DNS
A very tight tussle between Simon and Geoff and we can only wonder if Ben would have bested them?