2015 Epic Cycles Women’s Race Team

In a big step for Women’s Cycling, Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team announced yesterday their plans to help move the sport and their team forward. Here’s what’s in store for 2015:

Over the past three seasons Epic Cycles and Scott Sports have been the two main sponsors for the successful Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team. Going into 2015 we will see one or two changes in sponsorship, but with the same team management and owners. A new team name will also be announced soon.

One feature of the team over the past three years has been its evolving terms of reference – in years one and two the emphasis was very much on the development of junior riders, while in year three the focus has been on bringing together a balanced and talented group of senior riders with the aim of riding together as a cohesive team, rather than as a collection of individuals.

This evolution will continue in year four, with renewed focus on rider development and a primary aim to act as a path into the professional ranks and/or competing in UCI races for those with ambitions to do so.

To support this aim we are working closely with the newly announced Matrix-Vulpine UCI Team. Our joint expectation is that a number of our riders will have the opportunity through this relationship to ride with the Matrix team as stagiaires in UCI races during the 2015 season, offering them the chance both to race in the pro peloton and to demonstrate what they could offer to a UCI pro team.

We also aim to build on our successes in the area of team work, and will be targeting key events in the UK domestic road racing scene, with a view to building on our list of 2014 victories and podium places.

The team will, as in 2014, be managed in a professional manner and we hope to further contribute to raising the standard of women’s race team management in the UK.

Key Aims

  • To provide team environment and structure in which riders can develop and progress, either to riding at a higher level within the UK scene or to a career as a professional cyclist.
  • To build on the number of podium places achieved in key UK races during 2014.
  • To provide opportunities to take part in UCI races and gain exposure within the pro peloton.
  • To raise the profile of our riders, team, and sponsors.

The Team

While we anticipate that some of this year’s line-up will be moving on to new teams, we are hoping to retain a number of our existing riders for 2015.

In signing new riders we are aiming, as in 2014, to assemble a strong and ambitious team who have complementary strengths and skills, so that we are able to enter races with different leaders and tactics according to the nature and timing of each race.

As in previous years, the team will not been built around a single star rider or to specialise in a particular type of race. Instead, we will aim to perform consistently well in all types of road racing, throughout the entire season.

Our planned team size of around 10 riders should provide sufficient cover for key events, while maximising the opportunity for individual riders to participate in a full programme of races without too many occasions where we have more riders than places available.

Our preference is for the team to be made up of a mix of over and under 23 seniors, but we do not have a rigid age or experience profile in mind. It is anticipated that most/all will be in some form of employment or education – full time availability to race is not a requirement.

A track record of participation and progression in road racing is essential. Previous race success (in terms of podium spots) is secondary to a positive attitude and a commitment to team work.

Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

62nd Royal Smilde Olympia ‘s Tour starts on May 12

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PRESS RELEASE

62nd Royal Smilde Olympia ‘s Tour starts on May 12

The opening day of the 62nd edition of the Dutch oldest bike race, Royal Smilde Olympia ‘s Tour is fast approaching. On May 12 in North Holland Hoofddorp the prologue will be held. After spanning several regions and over 850 miles the stage race will finish on May 17, also in Hoofddorp [five days later]. The final field and track can be found below.

Roadmaps of the 62nd Royal Smilde Olympia’s Tour:
May 12: Prologue | Hoofddorp (Ind. Trial ) 3.3 miles
May 13 : Stage 1 | Ulft – Gendringen 114.0 km
May 13 : Stage 2 | Gendringen ( TTT ) 14.7 km
May 14 : Stage 3 | Horn – Horn 170.9 km
May 15: Stage 4 | Zoetermeer – Rijswijk 152.4 km
May 16 : Stage 5 | Reuver – Reuver 208.6 km
May 17 : Stage 5 | Hoofddorp – Hoofddorp 186.4 km
The participating teams are:

  1. Rabobank Continental Team ( NED )
  2. National Team Australia ( AUS )
  3. Cycling Team De Rijke ( NED )
  4. Cycling Team Jo Piels ( NED )
  5. Metec – . TKH Continental Cycling Team ( NED )
  6. Koga Cycling Team ( NED )
  7. Dump Baby Cycling Team ( NED )
  8. ParkHotel CT Valkenburg ( NED )
  9. WV Young Rider ( NED )
  10. National Team USA (USA )
  11. National Team Azerbaijan ( AZE )
  12. Riwal Cycling Team ( DEN )
  13. 3M Team ( BEL )
  14. An Post – Chain Reaction ( IRL )
  15. KTM Team ( GBR )
  16. Jutland Sealand ( DEN )

The organisation of Royal Smilde Olympia’s Tour is proud that this year already the 62nd edition of the round takes place. “After the great winners of the past four years, Taylor Phinney, Jetse Globe and Dylan van Baarle, we are excited by the interest that this unique historic cycling event in the Netherlands is still getting,” said Foundation President Olympia’s – Tour Lex van Drooge. “This year the focus of the field is the young talent. Olympia ‘s Tour is for many a springboard to a professional career and professional young nature of the course remains a priority for the organization. Olympia ‘s Tour would continue to be. Now and in the future for youth.”

During Royal Smilde Olympia’s Tour you can follow the race via the website www.olympiastour.com and on twitter @OlympiaTour . News, short updates and discussion will be posted after each stage.

OLYMPIA ‘S HISTORY TOUR
The first edition of Olympia ‘s Tour took place in 1909, with the start and finish in Amsterdam, and it is the oldest stage race in the Netherlands. Since 1955 the race has been held every year, making it impossible to imagine the Dutch cycling calendar without it. The race is invaluable to enable flow from youth and national riders into international cycling.

Last year’s winner Dylan van Baarle of the Rabobank Continental Team, is now a pro in the U.S. World Tour team Garmin – Sharp. Of the last ten winners eight were professional cyclists: Dylan van Baarle, Jetse Globe, Taylor Phinney, Lars Boom, Tom Veelers, Stef Clement, Thomas Dekker and Joost Posthuma.

YESSS For The Tickhill Grand Prix!

 

Tickhill LogoThe Tickhill Grand Prix on 24th August has joined up with new Electrical giant YESSS ELECTRICAL who will be their title sponsor for at least the next 3 years.

The Tickhill Grand Prix is a closed road cycle race through the streets of Tickhill, near Doncaster,  (DN11 9PT) and is hot on the heels of the Tour de France. Boasting 8 races, free admission, close to the action spectating, this is a great day for all the family.

YESSS Electrical have stepped in to support the event and see this as a major national promotion as the Race will be attracting professional Riders and Teams from all over the country as well as supporting grassroots Youth Racing.

Shaun Myers, Head of Design & Marketing at YESSS said, “the Tickhill Grand Prix is an amazing event. We were impressed by the effort and dedication that the organising team at Tickhill Velo Club put into their first event in 2013 and realized the huge potential of this great day

“The Tickhill Grand Prix has a similar story to ours, success and growth that has come purely from the efforts and service put in by excellent staff and we had no hesitation in supporting them.”

Shaun Myers - Yesss Electrical – Head of Design & Marketing Andy Birdsall - Tickhill Velo Club – Chairman Andy Singleton – Yesss Group Europe – General Manager  “Rapid” Rich Stoodley – Tickhill Grand Prix – Organiser

Shaun Myers – Yesss Electrical – Head of Design & Marketing
Andy Birdsall – Tickhill Velo Club – Chairman
Andy Singleton – Yesss Group Europe – General Manager
“Rapid” Rich Stoodley – Tickhill Grand Prix – Organiser

Richard Stoodley from Tickhill Grand Prix said “It is amazing to have attracted such a dynamic, high profile company such as YESSS Electrical. It may look like a little village but the Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be one of the biggest town centre ‘crit’ style races in the UK, and it is the support of YESSS that has allowed us to fulfill our ambitions.”

He continued, “We are thrilled to be associated with YESSS and look forward to putting on a great event”

The Tickhill Grand Prix hosts 8 races from 13.00 till 19.45 and these include Professional Elite – both Men & Women – Penny Farthing Race and a host of Amateur  & Youth Races.

With Big screens, free admission, free programme, after event presentation and plenty to do and see, the Tickhill Grand Prix is a must for your diary.

Richard went on to say “British Cycling, Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Police have been very supportive in helping us stage this important event and we are working closely with them to put on a safe event for both Riders and spectators.”

But its not just about Racing and promotion, the Tickhill Grand Prix has also agreed a 3 year official partnership with Yorkshire Air Ambulance and will see collections and a sponsorship profit share donated to this much needed Charity.

Mary Perry from Yorkshire Air Ambulance commented “We were delighted when the Tickhill Grand Prix approached us to become a partner.  Cycling is a huge, fast growing sport and with all eyes being on the Tour de France this year, fantastic events like Tickhill Grand Prix will gain Yorkshire Air Ambulance much needed exposure and funds”.

Although YESSS are the title sponsor, sponsorship and fundraising opportunities are still available and the organisers can be contacted on [email protected] or visit www.tickhillgp.com

The YESSS Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be the success story of 2014, mainly because of the efforts and vision from YESSS Electrical.

 

My first Audax – the Hoarwithy 100

Hoarwithy Toll House

Hoarwithy Toll House

Simple pleasures. Maybe it’s because I’m getting on a bit now, but some of the things I most enjoy about cycling are the simple pleasures – sunshine on your face, birds in the air, rolling green vistas, chatting on the wheel with your cycling buddies. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy, say, a thundering downhill headlong charge, setting a PB on my steepest Strava segment (KoM is just never going to happen, unless I create one that goes through our house) or getting that tricky rock garden just right on the mountain bike – I do, I love them and all the myriad experiences a cyclist goes through on a good day just as much as I ever have. It’s just that, over time, I’ve gained an appreciation of the less-adrenalin-filled aspects of the sport. Maybe it’s not about getting old, as such – more a matter of growing up.

Whatever it is, I think I may have found the perfect outlet, if Sunday’s adventure in the Hoarwithy 100 was anything to go by. As part of our continuing exploration of the world of cycling, three members of the nondescript, half-baked, semi-imaginary cycling outfit that is NTG RCC dipped a first, timid toe into the welcoming  waters of the Audax over the bank holiday weekend, with Jon, Luke and I assembling at a very reasonable 9:00am to get signed in. A small event, we never saw more than about twenty or so riders even for the depart (although there were more doing the 200km event), so signing on was simplicity itself, just a matter of finding the village hall and getting our brevet cards. After a pleasingly brief briefing, the keener types rolled merrily on their way, whilst NTG collectively thought they’d better ask if they needed to get their cards stamped at the start (a pointless question, in hindsight – we had arrived and collected the cards, why would they need to be stamped?). Thus, by the time we saddled up, everyone else was long gone.

Which meant that we only went about three hundred yards before the first navigational mishap, Jon and Luke’s Garmins unable to indicate “left a bit” when the road split. Somewhat worse, as we made our way over the Severn vie picturesque Hawbridge was the awareness that three had become two just a couple of miles in – Jon had gone missing, and as we got to him, the back wheel was coming out of his Genesis. A flat – that same tyre had been flat and a new tube fitted when they’d arrived barely half an hour before. This was not good.

Although the tube had gone in the same place as the one he’d changed earlier, there was absolutely no sign of the cause of the puncture – fortunately, there was a spare tyre back in the car, so I took a gentle spin back with the dead one over my shoulder, and within a couple of minutes of my return, we were on our way. It might not have been the brightest start, but we were thankfully untroubled by the puncture pixies for the remainder of the day.

And what a day. The sun was out, but there was just a smidge of cloud and the merest hint of a breeze to take the temperature out of the air, really perfect cycling conditions. As if that wasn’t enough, the route rolled us through the loveliest Gloucestershire countryside, all quiet lanes and green fields and coppices and villages – there was the occasional transit section on busier roads between lanes, but they were brief, rare and far between.

All, however, was not well. As Jon and I span merrily along, Luke was not feeling well – acid indigestion was bad, but worse he couldn’t eat and this was going to be a long day for us. Long before we hit Littledean, we were looking for shops as a source of Gaviscon but we’d clocked 26 miles before we found anywhere. After a brief respite to neck some tablets, we were all set for the off – however, if I’d known what was awaiting, I might have rested a little longer…

Right from the off, there was a stiff climb out of the village, and it sneakily went on further than you thought, straight runs to corners that hint at a flattened section for some respite, that then raise themselves to another long, straight drag with an evil laugh. What goes up, however…. The descent the other side down St White’s Road was adequate recompense, and served as a kind of gateway to the Forest of Dean. It had been all about the green and pleasant fields – now it was all about the trees.

But we needed more drama before we really got stuck into the woods. An ambulance had already come blaring past shortly before we reached Speech House, and as we crested the climb our hearts sank – a police car had evidently just pulled up, and diversion signs were in evidence. Trying not to think about what might have happened, and hoping it hadn’t happened to another cyclist, Captain Jon took out his map, but the omens weren’t good – already behind schedule, none of the obvious diversions were anything short of lengthy, but when Jon sought advice from the police officer deploying signs, she very kindly advised us to go through the section that had been closed; there was debris on the roads, so we were to take care, but we would be able to get through. It was very good of her – it would have been just as easy (easier, maybe) to tell us we had to go around, but she didn’t. Thank you ma’am!

Rolling steadily down the deserted road, you did wonder what we were going to find – a sharp, downhill right-hand bend, was the immediate answer, with the verge torn up on the outside, and a small hatchback upside down on the other side of the road. Fortunately, judging by the lack of urgency in the movements of the emergency services in attendance, and the slightly-shocked looking group of people who we presumed were giving statements, it didn’t seem likely that any serious injury had occurred, but it must have been a very lively few moments while it was all in progress.

It wasn’t long after that before we reached Symond’s Yat and the halfway mark checkpoint, signing in with minutes to spare before we ran out of time. Taking a break in the sun and getting some proper food down our necks (Luke still couldn’t eat, so I did my best to make up for him), our options were fairly limited – Luke felt ok to carry on, although understandably lacking zip, but the shortest way back was pretty much on the course, there were no train stations to hand so the only other bailout plan was to get someone to drive down and pick him up. Pluckily, Luke decided to just crack on, so after a very nice chat with the gentleman on the checkpoint, we re-kitted and headed on. Let me tell you, the vertiginous descent from Yat Rock down through Riddings Wood is quite the perfect post-lunch warm up, raising your heart rate without stressing your legs.

Once north of the A40, we were back into rolling fields territory, where even the most testing inclines ran out of steam before too long, the sun beaming down as the afternoon drew on, bouncing diamonds of light off the surface of the Wye. The second and final checkpoint was at Much Marcle, where we paused for a final brew and a chocolate biscuit at a control in front of an immaculate, curved-roof garage straight out of the Fifites and wonderfully still showing signs of everyday use – recent trophies sparkled in the front windows, whilst on the walls hung prints of Graham Hill and Jack Brabham, and the maestro, Fangio, four-wheel-drifting his Maserati through Rouen’s high-speed curves.

With Luke still unable to eat, we made our way steadily over the last fifteen miles or so into a sneaky little headwind that started off gently then began to build – taking turns on the front, by the time we drew close to Apperly the novelty of the breeze had started to wear off, so it was with an element of glee that we turned off into the village itself, another drag up a hill but sheltered, and all the better for knowing there wasn’t far to go. Rolling up to the final checkpoint invoked the sense of accomplishment that makes it all worthwhile, and we got to have a nice chat with both organisers and fellow participants. You don’t always get that at a sportive.

It had been a really good day, although I was glad I wasn’t Luke – I can’t imagine how tired he must have been feeling. The pace had necessarily been gentle given how under the weather he had been feeling, so we must have been pretty much the last back, but the whole ethos of the Audax seemed entirely non-competitive – if ever there was an event that stressed that the spirit of competition is with yourself, rather than externally, with any other person, this seemed to be it. Everyone we met had been very friendly, open and chatty, and probably the biggest surprise to me was how small the attendance was – there are just 27 finishers listed for the 100km, and 40 for the 200km. On the one hand, I’m staggered that such a well-organised, well-routed event should attract such little interest. On the other, I suspect that’s part of why they’re so great…

 

For more information on the Hoarwithy 100 and other Audax events visit: www.aukweb.net

Eurosport documentary seeks subjects for ‘Race of Truth’ documentary

Sopkesmen Ltd Logo
 
Spokesmen Ltd, the UK based Media, PR and Television Production company responsible for TV coverage of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, has been commissioned by Eurosport and Cycling Time Trials to produce a 30 minute documentary on the art, science and psychology of time trialling, to be aired on British Eurosport this summer.

Spokesmen, headed up by David Harmon, has joined forces with renowned Channel 4 documentary film maker Dan Edelstyn (How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire, Subverting the City and No Good Deed goes Unpunished) and Executive Producer Michael Hutchinson to go in search of what makes time trialling the bedrock of Britain’s cycling success.

Taking the viewer inside the discipline of the professional rider will be time trial champion Alex Dowsett and we are now inviting other time triallists to be part of this innovative documentary.

We need another two subjects to be followed through the experience of their race of truth. Whether you’re entering your first club 10 or challenging for the yellow jersey of the Tour, time trialling is unique in its mental and physical demands.

We want to know what motivates you, why do you do it and what do you get out of it? What brings you back to the road again and again, what are the great highs and lows?

What’s important is that you love the sport, feel passionate about cycling – come rain, hail or whatever Britain throws at you – and that you are happy to be filmed to advocate time trailling in the UK.

If you would like to be considered as a subject for the film, Spokesmen would like to hear from you.

Send us a YouTube or Vimeo link or file of a self produced video of up to 2 minutes, that will give us a flavour of who you are and what time trialling means to you, not just as a rider but within your life. Submissions are particularly welcome from junior and veteran riders.

You must be available for filming for at least two days during May & early June. Videos need to be submitted by Friday 3 May by email to [email protected] The programme will air during the Tour de France on British Eurosport.

 

 

 

The Rawlinson Bracket

Competitiveness, an urge to do your best, is within human nature, a part of all of us. But in the drive to further yourself, there are steps that you need to take – only the very few are born with a natural ability at any sport, and even for them there’s time to be spent and effort expended  in order to hone skills and enhance physical attributes. Cycling is not immune; indeed, there are not many sports where the amount of time you put in so clearly has an impact in the amount you get out. So it behoves you to spend time in the saddle if you want to improve, and part and parcel of that is that there are boundaries to cross in your long personal voyage of self-improvement.  I’ve just crossed two of them – my first sportive, and my first half-century.

The event was a new one – the Rawlinson Bracket commemorates the untimely passing of Nick Rawlinson, who passed away in his sleep at the shockingly unfair age of thirty. A keen cyclist, Nick was training for the Maratona dles Dolomites and his first season of racing – accordingly, his friends and family put together the Rawlinson Bracket to allow riders to experience some of the roads Nick knew well and loved to train on, but also to raise funds and awareness for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. Whilst not a county particularly noted for verticality, Warwickshire nevertheless boasts some fairly beastly climbs along the Edgehill escarpment, and although the more leisurely 24 mile Bottom Bracket would give them a swerve, the 50 mile Top Bracket would utilize these and other climbs to the full.

Registered with British Cycling, online registration and entry was simplicity itself, and a couple of weeks before the event, my event number and on-the-day instructions hurled themselves through the letterbox. The day itself dawned grey and distinctly chilly, but at least it looked dry with no precipitation – parking at the Heritage Motor Centre, however, there were undeniable flakes of snow tumbling from the slate-coloured sky, although we were blessed to have nothing heavier fall during the event. Signing on was just a matter of turning up and signing your name in the appropriate place before heading out into the cold to get kitted up, and one thing was becoming very in-your-face apparent; although nothing was falling from above and the roads were dry, it was painfully, blisteringly cold. I was pretty well prepped, but in a moment of jaw-dropping stupidity, I’d left the winter gloves at home in favour of some slightly cooler* handware, cooler in both senses of the word. With Team NTG pedalling nervously to the startline, my fingers first started to protest, then yell angrily, then finally start to fall silent – and numb.

The briefing was cheerily delivered, useful and to the point, and before we knew it, we’d been set free and were off and running. From the start, the key note of interest was our fellow participants zipping past us at great pace and then disappearing into the distance – Team NTG’s scratch squad were a fairly fit bunch but they were carrying a hybrid-mounted  great pudding in the form of your correspondent, and although I had been prepared for Vince, Jon and Steve to similarly make themselves very small on the horizon in no short order, I was very grateful to them for riding at my gentle pace. For the first mile or two, we followed the B4451 towards the amusingly-monitored Bishop’s Itchington and although traffic was by no means heavy, there were a few cars about – once we turned onto Knightcote Road, however, we were into the lanes and the remainder of the ride was blissfully quiet.

It was still flat, though, and digits were definitely on the chilly side. Riding two by two, we pedaled along in amiable fashion, honking about the cold and hoping for a hill to warm us up – Vince was on a box-fresh spanking new Specialized Allez bought only the day before, settling in and reveling in the step up from his Apollo hybrid.

It wasn’t long before we were passing Northend Manor, which meant Burton Dassett and the first serious climb of the day wasn’t far off. Burton Dassett is a lovely piece of parkland that normally calls on you to be shoo’ing sheep out of the way between heavily-gasped breaths – this time there were no sheep in the road as we passed, although my companions made like mountain goats and quickly dropped me. I wasn’t bothered; although tactics hadn’t been discussed, I’d half had it in mind that they might scoot off and ride at their own pace, which wouldn’t have bothered me – I knew that 50 miles would be quite a test for me, and that I couldn’t afford to try and match an unachievable pace, but if they wanted to test themselves, I certainly wouldn’t begrudge them. I also knew from riding with Jon that my modest climbing pace was uncomfortable on his steeper-geared Genesis Croix De Fer, so I was unsurprised that the others would ride away from me when it got steep. What was pleasing, however, was that the others took it steady on the ride away from the top, and it wasn’t long before I was back amongst them.

In companionable fashion, therefore, we proceeded along the way chatting as we went, the next challenge being a climb up through the village of Shotteswell. This led us to the B4100 which runs from Banbury to Gaydon and forms a part of my regular commute, so I was overjoyed to launch myself down the familiar Warmington Hill in spite of the biting wind – by this time, even my trendily-attired fingers were adequately warm…

Turning west before the military camp, I gulped down a gel before we hit the B4086, turning south to aim at Knowle Hill. Knowle Hill is a proper climb, not too long (little more than half a mile), and the guys again worked their way ahead of me as we hit 14% – I’d done a recce a couple of weeks before, as I knew it to be an awesome piece of downhill tarmac, so I knew I was capable of riding up it in the middle ring, but it was still a bit of a shock to see dismounted riders pushing up the hill. My sense of inferiority born of taking a lowly hybrid to the start line against a sea of proper road kit diminished with every revolution of the granny ring.

Our ascent of Edgehill marked an approach on the halfway mark, and the rest stop at the top of the hill gave me time to assess – I felt ok, pretty good after a banana, and in my head there was only one more serious climb left. I’d had a bit of a play along Edgehill prior to the event, and thought I had things covered, but although I felt strong on the restart, once we’d descended into the picturesque village of Tysoe (there’s a great downhill on the way in – I unclipped the inside foot into a hairpin left just to be on the safe side, and my team members were asking if I was worried about impacting the scenery on the outside of the turn. Pff – bunch of old women). Tysoe led us onto Lady Elizabeth Hill which was a comparative long grind, at the top of which I struggled to make the time back up to the rest of the squad – I was definitely starting to lose strength. Just to make things more tricky, I managed to pull out an energy bar on a flat section shortly afterwards, but struggled to open the beast – as a result, I ended up trying to chomp on chocolate and orange as the road swooped up and down, turning the simple act of eating into a tricky prospect.

As we got to Compton Winyates Hill, passing the 35 mile mark, my legs had definitely got it into their collective head that they’d more or less had enough of this pedaling lark. Vince had to stop right at the foot of the climb to locate an errant gel, but came past me at a blistering pace on his way back to joining Jon and Steve – I was indifferent; by now it was all about trying to make the finish, and my legs felt like mush. Trying to generate extra power was like pushing water uphill.

The route then rejoined at the top of Lady Elizabeth Hill, and I sped gleefully down back into Tysoe before rejoining the lads just a couple of miles before Sunrising. I knew Sunrising of old – as a family we’d been driving up it on the way to Silverstone since the Seventies, and since I’d worked in Banbury, Sunrising had been a frequent part of the commute if I couldn’t face the motorway. I’d only cycled up it once, but it was and is the steepest hill I’ve cycled up so far. That was the end of January, and I’d managed to hold the middle ring, but on the day, little more than three weeks later, I had to drop to the granny ring almost as soon as the climb started; it seemed almost endless, but my bloody-minded spinning eventually had me round the top corner and at the apogee of the hill. From there I knew the route home – we’d cleared all the serious climbs. It was an overwhelming experience.

Once atop the escarpment, I put in some effort in aero mode to try and catch the rest of Team NTG, but we were through Edgehill before I rejoined with them. By then we were poised over Edgehill, a hill I’d ridden down a couple of times before and with my gravitational potential energy advantage, I managed to open a small gap on the rest of the team before we started to span the plain to Kineton. Putting in a turn to try and catch a couple of riders ahead of us, I gave it a dig before Vince took over, dragging us past them but also separating the team, the new Allez giving free expression to his prodigious ability. Steve gave vain chase as Jon and I worked our way more steadily home, but there was no doubting who finished with the most ammo in their legs.

Still, 50 miles, done; my first half century, and first sportive. It was a brilliant feeling just to finish the event, and it ranks high amongst my thus far meager athletic achievements. But complete it we did; cheerily run, the event was fun from start to finish and with over £4000 raised for SADS, there was a clear correlation between the fun had and the funds raised. No-one I spoke to had anything but praise for the event, and there was a pleasing finale when Steve and Jon looked to donate. When they went unsatisfied in their hunt for charity buckets, they asked a SADS-t shirted lady who advised them that there were no buckets, but they could leave contributions with her. In jest, Steve asked if they could be sure that contributions left with her would be safe and she smiled as she said that yes, they would be safe, as she is Nick’s mum. I thought it symbolic of the quality of the event that Nick’s family were there to pitch in, a year to the day after his untimely passing.

Nothing that I saw or heard leads me to conclude that the event was anything other than a complete success. I’ve no idea if there are plans to make it an annual event, but if there are, sign me up now!

 

 

*Coolness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but for me, the gloves I wore were as cool a pair as I own.

For more information SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome) visit: www.sadsuk.org.uk

To learn more about Nick and details on The Rawlinson Bracket event visit: www.the-rawlinson-bracket.co.uk

 

 

 

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