When I heard the 2015 VTTA Championship was to be held of the famous ‘cheatie’ course in South Wales in July 2015, I was obviously interested. Not only was this an opportunity to ride on what may well be the fastest ‘25’ course in the country, but it would be an opportunity to visit ‘Grumpy’ Art Vanderlay (aka Gerry) in the summer, with the attendant good weather not usually seen when I usually race 2-up in March.
Oh, how well-laid plans fail. The drive over on Friday was horrid, with masses of traffic, really bad weather and it took 6 hours. Saturday was some kind or compensation – we had nice weather for a jaunt out to the Welsh National Botanic Gardens followed by watching the Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France.
Unfortunately the weather for the R25/3L on Sunday morning was completely awful. In the end Gerry decided not to ride, and of 150 on the start sheet (plus reserves), only 57 finished the event. It was very windy – 22mph plus 35mph gusts – but also very wet and cold. Quite ridiculous for an event in the last weekend in July.
Gerry, having decided not to ride, kindly took me round for a second recce of Neath Bank before returning me to the start. Somewhat dubiously I rode to the start. Off I went, and almost immediately got blown so suddenly I felt my bike was moving sideways. Composing myself after that burst of adrenalin, I carried on across the industrial estate roundabout. I managed to miss the subtle left pointing arrow at the next roundabout and almost didn’t make the turn onto the A465 (there wasn’t a marshal).
Then it was on to the famous Neath Bank. I have to confess I took this cautiously, maxing at about 43mph. But I thought this was sensible. The rid out to the next turn was reasonably quick. I saw Gerry on the roadside trying to take a picture with his phone. Fortunately I’m quite familiar with the turn, as the Port Talbot Wheelers’ 2-up event turns there – it’s quite a confusing turn, and there was a multitude of signage but only a single marshal.
We’d expected the wind to provide a bit of assistance after the Aberdulais turn. Sadly, this turned out not to be the case, and I had a bit of a grind to the finish with a nagging headwind for most of it.
I finished with 56:15 (+12:50), and I was reasonably happy with that, given the conditions.
We then dashed back to get cleaned up and drive out to our favourite local restaurant, Y Polyn, for a slap up feed that pretty much made me soporific for the rest of the day!