Team Grumpy assemble for two regular events each season – aside from the Duo Normand in September, the team generally opens the season with a ride at the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25’ in early March. 2018 was no exception. This year (as last year), the event was shifted to the fast R25/3H instead of the more rolling course usually used, owing to roadworks.
The team had the usual preparation of curries, beers and crisps in the preceding days, and after a little worry about the weather (there was heavy rain the day before and on the day after the event), was more than a little relieved to have dry conditions. There was some wind, of which more later.
We arrived at the HQ rather early, to find it still locked! Once we got in, we collected our numbers and got changed and set the bikes up. While it was dry, it was still pretty cold, so we went off to warmup somewhat concerned about just getting colder! During the warmup Gerry’s Stages power meter decided to stop talking to his Garmin. This sort of thing is always a bit disconcerting, but at least it all started working again when the race started! Having said that, Gerry did observe that while the good thing was that the power meter was working, that bad thing was that the power meter was working (i.e. he could see what power he was delivering)!
Anyway, we started and after a short while, in which we demonstrated our changeover coordination was still good, we reached the top of the (in)famous Neath Bank, and our speed increased. Usually the team comes apart a bit on this descent as speed increases – this was true for this event, but actually not too badly. Gerry did have to work a bit harder closing a gap at the bottom of the hill, so I took a longer than usual spell to give hime time to recuperate. Unbeknownst to me, by this point, my bottle had jumped out of the cage and bounced off on the tarmac. I didn’t realise this until after the race when I went to have a drink!
The outward leg was splendidly fast all the way to the turn – of course this was due to the sidey-tailwind, as we were to discover later on. the only real obstacle we faced was a huge JCB that pulled out in front of us at a roundabout – gallantly, the driver moved over to the right, letting us through on the left! Once round the turn, it was immediately obvious why we’d gone so fast out – there was a stiff old head wind that not only slowed us but made the front trispokes very twitchy. Pretty soon, our spells got shorter. Then Gerry’s spells got shorter still. Then (very soon after that), my spells got very short too. bout then, we had the distinct sense of hanging on for grim death.
Eventually, we made it to the finish line with a bit of a sprint, to finish in a mid-field time of 57:27. Not stellar for such a fast course, but not too bad considering the interrupted training we’ve had over the winter. There’s a long old haul back up the hill to the HQ, where we didn’t hang about too long as we had a lunch booked some distance away…