Riding the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up 25 mile event in south Wales has become something of a Team Grumpy tradition in recent years. In the past, the event has been held on the fast R23/3 (or variant) course, which features the improbably fast descent of the Neath bank, a hill that you don’ have to go up again! Due to roadworks, last year the event was run on the R25/24, an altogether more realistic course – this course was used again this year. In 2007, the weather was astoundingly vile, torrential rain coupled with strong winds.
Team Grumpy entered the event this year with particular enthusiasm, as we plan to ride the Duo Normand again this year, after missing last year’s event. Both Gerry and I always look to this event for a glimpse of our form; this year we were particularly keen as Gerry’s had a bad neck, and after a winter of diligent training (well, as diligent as my work life allows), I came down with something that resembled winter vomiting virus exactly two weeks before this event.
This year, I received a series of increasingly gloomy emails with dire weather forecasts from Gerry – on the day, however, we drove over to the HQ in quite pleasant though rather windy conditions. We’d requested an early start as we had a lunch reservation at Y Polyn, a rather excellent restaurant we usually go to after the event, so we were the second team to start. The R25/24 course begins by heading down the Neath valley on a dual carriageway (A465). On the day, this made pretty hard riding, as it was into the teeth of the wind. Fortunately, Team Grumpy were working well, taking spells of about 30sec each. While I felt at the time we were riding rather cautiously, in retrospect I’m glad we kept something back for the hilly second half. After the southern turn, we roared back up the dual carriageway to the halfway point, mostly clocking 30mph or more, before heading south again on the B road that runs alongside the main road. This road’s considerably more challenging, with many short steep climbs that throw you off your rhythm. Added to which, there were considerable numbers of road-kill toads! Fortunately the overnight rain had mostly drained away, and other than the aforementioned flattened amphibia, there were no pools of standing water (as there were last year).
We finished with 57:58, which we were quite pleased with. It gave us 5th place, and we won the prize for first composite team. We were also pleased with the way we rode as a team – it’s likely we will ride one (or both) of the upcoming Icknield RC and Team MK 2-up events in a few weeks’ time.
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