The season comes round quickly. One minute it’s cakes and chocolate orange, copious bottles of Bishop’s Ringpiece or whatever other craft ale floats your boat, a a resting heart-rate enlivened only by the gladiatorial combat of a game of yahtzee; the next minute you’re hurtling along a country road in pissing rain with a brutal headwind, all in the hallowed name of ‘amateur cyclesport’.

The season-opener proper is the Chippenham Hilly. The big beasts emerge blinking from their sweaty turbo-sheds, ready to do battle with the elements and with each other. This year was no exception and a field of sallow, lithe, pasty-faced lycra warriors duly signed on in a village called Sutton Langley, or Kington Benger, or something like that.

I opted to ride to the start; it’s a 24 mile schlep up and out of Bristol. I then did the race, a 24 mile schlep around Wotton Basset and Dauntsey. I then rode home, a 24 mile schlep back across the darklands of Wick and Marshfield. Oddly, the rerouted Severn Bridge Road Race used a stretch of the same parcours, but in the opposite direction. I came across the first lap of the elite race, where scary look group of Rapha Condor and assorted roadmen had already gained 20 seconds over the chasing bunch. One of the riders was called ‘the tank’, on account of being 6″9 and weighing 97 kilos.

Russell Downing and James ‘Tank’ Lewis

I thought i’d done well in the race, setting a course PB by over a minute; things were looking ok until everyone else also set whopping course PBs and made me look a bit shabby. I ended up 5th or thereabouts, but not disheartened. That came later, on the ride home, when i wanted to cry and lie down in the ditch with only 17 caffeinated energy gels for company. It was raining and windy and by mile 60 of 80 i was shot to pieces. I had one of those difficult moments where it’s quite hard to get off the bike at the end of the ride without collapsing or suffering a violent attack of cramp. I then struggled to lift the bike up the stairs. it was a pathetic sight.

I took one photo. It is a salutary warning of the tight-fitting nature of bongohelmets.

Steve Clark’s bongohelmet damn near sliced his ears off.

Tomorrow i shall rest and reconsider my policy of riding to events. I’ll be doing well to ride out and back next weekend; it’s the Gillingham Hilly.


2 thoughts on “Hardrider

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  1. Ha, nice one, it is always good to ride to events. I was in a similar state after the 50 down at Biddisham last year. I might ride next week if the weather is good.

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