Cycle'swarm (and so were the puddles)
A tale of punctures, blow outs and support cars.
A tale of punctures, blow outs and support cars.
Sunday 13th July saw myself, Trevor, James B , Keiran and Dave attempt the inaugral Chelmsford Cycleswarm 90 miles in preparation for the London Bikeathon in August. With this being the longest distance attempted for myself and Dave and both Keiran and James recovering from ailments, this was likely to be a timely marker for the big one.
So the team arrived at Springfield Hall Park in Chelmsford in the pouring rain not so bright but early. Taking shelter under car boot doors was the first action whilst Cycles UK performed a quick gear check on my Roubaix. Then Keiran arrived and as soon as he got out of the car it was clear he was raring to go with his chipper demeanor and relentless shaking of the head. He took his bike to the ride mechanics, pleading with them to find enough wrong to declare his Giant unroadworthy, but his pleas were in vain and at 8:15 we all set off through the centre of Chelmsford.
The early pace was good until we reached a very silly narrow bridge that was more ‘I’m a Celebrity’ than Cycleswarm as everyone wobbled across nervously in the wet conditions. A long 2 mile climb followed taking us to the top of North Hill before a scenic descent down an alterntaive route that will be revisited for sure.
We arrived at the first rest stop in Great Leighs to be met by Claire & Deryn cheering us on and to discover Claire had recruited a possible new member in Rob who had followed us on Twitter @llrteamessex and then got chatting to Claire having spotted the team shirts.
Bananas consumed and a visit to the lav for James lightened the load before we set off towards Rayne and the Tour de France roads. This section was to witness a sneaky manoevre on my part; the legs felt strong and the urge to attack a hill overcame me as I powered past the team and found myself gaining on the Benchmark Trevor. I couldn’t resist a quick “Come on Trevor” as I passed by in a flash and chuckled as I heard a distant retort. Trevor dug in and was about to catch up but failed to notice the sign for the sharp right turn that I was cleverly masking with expert road position. Turn negotiated, I eased up and Trevor drew alongside with a number of expletives ☺ . You’ve got to take your chances against the Benchmark when they come but this is now twice I’ve nobbled the pace setter thanks to this and a previous eronoius Strava segment.
As we wound our way through Rayne and Shalford James was starting to struggle as a twisted ankle from a vigourous football match the previous day was taking its toll on his ability to power through, exhacerbating the demands on his still recovering left leg. At 48.5 miles he was close to throwing in the towel but one look at the word #unstoppable and there was never really any doubt that he would soldier on. By this stage Trevor, spurred on by his hill section defeat had summoned his inner beast and had ridden on ahead at his usual pace.
With Kieran having repaired a rear puncture and having watched the women’s giro come through, we headed off again knowing we were over half way and that a gentler pace would help us ensure James maintained his unbeaten record. More hills and some torrential rain could not dampen our spirits until Dave suffered a puncture. His knee was playing up already and his Kendo tyres proved a challenge to remove. In the end he was rescued by some kind passing motorists as he had begun walking to the next rest stop. He arrived in style in an Audi to the forecourt of the Bentley showroom in Great Easton to find myself, Keiran and James waiting for him.
With some difficulty we replaced the tyre and as we turned to take a drink BANG as the bugger exploded on the wheel. Another 20 minute struggle ensued as we tried to remove the tyre again with no less than 3 people and 5 tyre levers!! Then I spotted a slight problem: Dave’s tyre has been completed shredded at the rim and was well beyond repair at the 70 miles mark. The event staff kindly took Dave and his bike to the finish whilst the rest of us carried on for the last 20 miles. With so many interruptions we were even asked to take the signs down along the route as we went. LOL.
Gradually ticking off the last few miles, James dug deep as Chelmsford appeared in the distance and then as we rode into the finish there was Trevor, Angela, Dave and Laura to meet us. Medals collected a quick team photo was taken to mark this mammoth effort, by James and in particular.
• Trevor is like the German football team, ruthless and efficient and dangerous if they go 1 down.
• Audi’s make great support cars.
• Fiat 500s less so!
• We can’t afford a Bentley.
• What goes up doesn’t always come down
• Things go wrong when the team mechanic isn’t there.
Well done to the team and next up on Sunday is the London-Southend event which will hopefully prove less eventful and less wet.