This event was one that we’d been targetting for some time, as it offered an opportunity to ride a 2-up time trial a couple of weeks before the ‘big one’, the Duo Normand. The preceding evening saw classic Team Grumpy preparation, a large Thai dinner in the local Thai restaurant washed down with lashings of energy drink. We must be getting a bit used to this dietary assault as we had no ill-effects (for a change).
The Norlond ’10’ was being run on the F12/10, which uses the A505 Leighton Buzzard bypass, turning at its junction with the A5. On arriving at the HQ, we had a chat with some of the tandem riders. who were off in front of the 2-up teams, at 1 minute intervals (the 2-up teams were riding at 3 minute intervals) and then set up the bikes and went off for a warmup. Because we were near the start of the field, we had the opportunity to warm up on the course. This was good, as it gave us a good feel for how the wind (which was rather stiff) would affect the course. It turned out the return leg was definitely the harder leg, so we decided to take shorter turns for that leg. It was also useful to gauge my body’s response to effort: I had been suffering from quite a bad cold for the best part of two weeks which had kept me off the bike. In fact, the worst I felt were some twinges in my legs which cleared by the time I started the event.
We lined up at the start, in our usual starting formation with Gerry poised to lead off. I exhorted him in front of witnesses not to look over his shoulder after he started, and for once, he didn’t! Somewhat disturbingly, I was in a bit of a high gear for starting, so a gap quickly opened, but it closed quickly as I horsed the gear round. I was at the front as we approached the Billington roundabout and for once we sailed through with no interfering traffic – indeed I stayed on the tri-bars.
We powered off towards the turn, taking turns of about 1-2 minutes. This was a quick leg, with a stiff tailwind assisting us. I was surprised at how good I felt, and our changeovers seemed very smooth and professional. Up the ramp to the turn and a gap opened up, but only briefly, we were together coming out of the turn. Heading back was indeed tougher with a stiff headwind, but we responded by keeping the turns short. Gerry exhorted me to take shorter turns, but all I could make out was a seemingly inarticulate and strangled shout.
Back to the Billington roundabout again, and once more we got through without traffic problems. I shouted to Gerry to go all out to the finish, which was by now in sight (I dare say all he heard was a seemingly inarticulate and strangled shout!). Getting to the lne, I was annoyed to see a motorcyclist blocking the timekeeper’s line of sight, so I bellowed out our number.
We finished with 22:15, not a bad time in the conditions. We’d caught a team for 6 minutes and were the fastest 2-up team (but the only all-male team, so that’s not too important). What was hugely encouraging for the upcoming Duo Normand 2-up, is that we both rode really well as a team, which highly effective changeovers. Indeed some spectators later commented that we were riding so tightly that when seen oncoming we looked like a single bike. All in all, a very encouraging race. And just what we needed in the run up to ‘the big event’.