A bright but very cold and frosty morning greeted us as we loaded up the car to drive over to Resolven to ride in the 2010 Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25′. In fact we were both apprehensive – about the weather, yes, but also the uncertainty of what form our winter training had led to. In my case, I was reasonably confident, but I was aware of being rather overweight and lacking in mileage – most of my winter training had been in the form of relatively brief turbo sessions in the garage. On the other hand, my team mate Gerry had left resumption of training until late December, and had then been afflicted with a lengthy cold (possibly the same thing that got me during most of December). So he was pretty sure he was going to be riding sub-par.
We got to Resolven and signed on. The race HQ seemed to be colder than the car park, which by the time we arrived was nicely bathed in sunshine, raising the temperature to slightly above freezing. After setting the bikes up and getting sorted, we briefly warmed up. I tweaked the Polar computer so that it would work from the GPS sensor, and we rolled up to take out place behind the fourth team (we were fifth off in a nearly full field). Our time came, and off we went, out on to the DC and done the valley, with a glorious tail wind. We were riding pretty smoothly together, and we took care that any speed discrepancy didn’t pull us apart. I don’t think it would be indiscreet to observe that Gerry was indeed below par, but still, we gradually reeled in the teams that has started before us.
The first leg is a short one, and all too soon we’d reached the first turn, and found ourselves riding back up the velley into a head wind. Coupled with the generally uphill nature of this section (which is longer than the first leg), we found our speed severely knocked back, and it was all the more reassuring to find we had caught all four teams ahead of us by the time we reached the second turn. I suppose this is about the halfway point, and is where the course takes the rider onto a more sporting section, the old road which runs parallel to the DC and has numerous steep climbs. Still, we had the tail wind again.
Spurred on by the tail wind, we had been picking up speed again when disaster struck. Firstly Gerry couldn’t avoid a pot hole – I was leading and roared past it, indicating its presence, but at the speed we were going, Gerry really had no chance. Wham! Through the pothole with an anguished cry. At this stage, I thought we’d got away with it, but shortly afterwards we were cresting a hill when I was aware Gerry had dropped back. Looking over my shoulder I could see him drawing to a stop. I did a U-turn and returned to find he had a flat front tyre. A brief discussion ensued, during which team #4 (an Ogmore Valley team) came past us and I was persuaded to ncarry on riding (even though I wouldnt get a time recorded).
Off I went, catching the Ogmore Valley team before the third and final turn. Rounding the turn, I still felt pretty good, However, my enthusiasm for sporting course time trialling rapidly waned as climb after climb appeared in front of me, and by the last couple of climbs, my thighs were really protesting. Still, I made it to the finish line. Meanwhile Gerry had been demonstrating something other than puncture repair expertise, and had been suffering a softening tyre as he returned to the race HQ. I rode back with the Ogmore Valley riders.
After dropping off our numbers, we beat a hasty retreat as we had a 2pm reservation in a restaurant for lunch. This proved an excellent meal and ample compensation for the bad luck we’d suffered that day. Team Grumpy are a determined team: we’ll be back for next year’s event, and in the meantime plan to continue our buildup to the 2010 Duo Normand by turning out at the Icknield Road Club sporting 2-up at the end of March.
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