Ian Morgan, Paul Martin and three others (including Dave Churchill who rode the Omloop with us) rode the Liege-Bastogne-Liege ride in Belgium on Saturday which is 235km in the Belgium Ardennes across some very lumpy terrain and 3600 metres of climbing. Everyone finished and Ian and Paul were 7th and 8th finishers out of 4500 starters in 8:35.
Paul Martin, Ian Morgan and some friends again rode La Marmotte with Ian being the fastest with an excellent time of 7:08 for 162nd
out of 7000 starters. Paul did 8:03 and was 703rd.
Here is Lawton Chen's write up of the trip:-
“Too early... too early....” The alarm clock was having none of it. 4.00am. Time to get up and drive to Warley to meet Brian and Steve to load their gear (well, in Steve's case his whole bloody house, and half of Safeways' national stock of crisps - “I’ve got breakfast lads....” ).
Good old Galaxy.... even loaded to the gunnels, we flew “First Class” (ok, end of commercials for now!) down to the Chunnel, and first stop for the loo’s. It was here we discovered that Mr Peggs had started his ultra-hydration regime extremely early..... the first stop of many... Funny, contagious this pre-hydration effect....
Loo by loo, France sped by. Especially when Brian drove. In fact ESPECIALLY when Brian drove. Now, Steve & I had done the “Alp D'Huez after nine and a half hours in the car experience” last year.... and Steve in particular was dutifully sedate behind the wheel. In fact, even Mr Renault
So it was, that with Steve now desperately crawling along trying to drag time out until darkness set in, that Brian got his first taste of L'Alp.
By frightening co-incidence, as we started the Climb, so Led Zepellin burst over the car CD into a full rendition of Black Dog... “Hey, hey mama… gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.... gonna make you burn,,, gonna make you swing... .. dreams of you all through my head........” By the time Steve deposited us at the top of the climb, we'd done the full “Dazed & Confused” and “Stairway to Heaven” too... (very nice of Messers Page & Plant to put them in that order on the album.....) I make that well over twenty five minutes in the car.....
After a year, one forgets how steep & long L'Alp is....I think I recall that Brian swore once or twice......
So it was, that the preparatory climb of the Alp was put off until after Dinner... and breakfast, ....and elevenses... and very nearly lunch too.... But it had to be done.
Now, Steve & I had not met Brian before this trip. A quick glance at his gearing the prior morning (just a double no less) and plenty of banter about masses of training and a pro-football career left us in no doubt about quite what pace this 'Mr Peggs' was going to carry. Respect, pal, respect.
So Lee, Steve, Brian, and I set off up the afternoon's training run after an hour or so warm up riding with the rest of the group in the valley. Lee simply blasted the hill - Steve set himself a really good time, and Brian and I took it “easy”. We'll, rather, Brian discovered why WE all had triple chainrings. By the time we all met up back at the hotel, Brian had thighs with swellings resembling Popeye commercials. Steve & I felt duty-bound to say something... something like, “how the hell did you make it up on that gearing... you need some bigger gears, pal!” (& Much Respect for making up at all!!). With Paul's council, and feverish nodding from everyone else, Brian took about a nanosecond to decide he urgently needed to visit the nearest bikeshop for some serious 'adjustment'.
The bike shop at Borg d'Oisan is absolutely packed during Marmotte week. It's run by a really nice family; Mr fixit, a really nice bloke, Mrs commercial (don't take two items of clothing behind the changing cupboard curtain or I'll cut off your ......), and grampa (can't understand him in french or english!). I suspect they must make 95% of their annual turnover in 5 frenzied days! Well, in about 15mins a very nice (& effective) looking Miche Compact set-up was fitted, and Brian was ready to take on the world again.... well, except that his legs still appeared to be fully knackered. .....oh, and he had to explain to Mrs P about the August credit card bill.....
A gentle ride in the valley again on Friday was followed by time spent pottering… signing on, spanner checks, polishing, pumping, polishing, carb-loading, tie-wrapping, zip-lock bag trading (small in-joke, sorry), and more polishing. "…if in doubt, polish…"
Late Friday afternoon, Alan arrived, making up the full compliment of our group – Paul, Ian, Justin (who had arrived the previous week), Glyn - who had flown in from Manchester, Steve, Brian and I, Lee with Kat and Renee (Lee had decided to start but not finish as he had a triathlon world championship qualifier the following Saturday, and Kat & Renee had very kindly offered to provide support to us all at the top of the first climb), and now Alan – who had been holidaying nearby. Ironically Alan had to drive over the first climb – the Col Du Glandon – and brought trepidatory tales sufficient to induce cramps in our legs just thinking about it! Over dinner, therefore, candidates to act as team masseur were proposed and counter-proposed, with Mr Kemp getting the role of Trojan Horse, until Kat caught onto our game, pointing out that Lee was a qualified masseur….. gentle probing as to the nature of the qualification…..
And so Saturday dawned. Breakfast at 5.00am (don’t translate it into brit time - it hurts) was, just like last year; surreal. A chill wind blew over the balcony, with the mountains in backdrop, and clouds in the neardrop - below us - as in the darkness (Paul found his head-lamp; and wore it! ) we fumbled over Alpen (ha, ha it wasn’t funny) and orange juice, and some really, really, nice rice puddings…If only the threat of rain wasn’t so near…. “what’s it doing in the valley, Paul?”…. “could be chucking it down…” came the undefinitive response…
But there was no putting off the cold dawn descent down the Alp to Borg D’Oisans for the mass start. As early entrants, we all had low start numbers, and found ourselves right at the front of the non-elite riders. It was almost indescribable to look back down the high street and see around (we guess) seven thousand cyclists behind us packed into pens, milling around, waiting for the same moment in time… 7.15am
Setting off near the front of the pack was simply awesome. Not that I quite saw the lead car… but the helicopter overhead (I did hear it, I did, I did!) and the pure adrenaline rush was just staggering. Never, somehow, in this sprint to the first climb did it ever really occur to any of us that we had some 6-12 hours ahead of us… a nice steady pace would have made much more sense… but if sense prevailed 90% of us wouldn’t have been here anyway!
The first climb up to Col Du Glandon is probably the steepest, and most technical of the climbs, with varying gradients, short descents, and some energy sapping old road surfaces. But I was really pleased to find it reasonably good going, and the threatened rain gave way to a gentle breeze and warm sunshine. Pretty soon it was really quite warm…. and I realised that mixing my drinks for cold weather had probably been a mistake. Never mind, I thought… plenty of carbs….
Near the top of the climb I felt great, climbing out of the saddle for the photographer, giving it large and fixing him a steely look that meant… “last year you didn’t take a single photo of me; make sure this year, pal!” Shortly afterwards I got to the top and met Lee, Kat & Ren. They were simply awesome; in a flash they’d changed both my water bottles, put an opened banana in my hand, and given me my checklist to work out what I wanted. In fact, after two hours of being ‘in my own world’ it took me some while to come back to reality. I set off again, pleased that it was all going so well - I was nearly 45 mins ahead of last year, and apart from a slight tightness in my right thigh it was looking good. I took the last 200 meters to the summit easy, and it felt really brilliant to ride straight through the melee of other riders at the feeding point scrabbling for water, food, and jackets etc, knowing I was all set for the next 2 hours or so. Next stop the water station halfway up the Telegraph.
Then it all went wrong. On the descent I began to get a stomach cramp; then felt sick. I thought it would pass. It didn’t. I thought if I drank it would go. It got worse. I really didn’t feel like eating, even though the plan was to feed on the descent to get energy into me for the next two big climbs. By the time I got to the valley, I felt only marginally better. I’d experienced some form of gastric distress for the first time ever… what a time to choose. The problem is that to recover, one’s body sends loads of blood to the stomach to deliver energy to process all the stuff going on there. Unfortunately, I needed all that energy going to my legs!
Along the valley small peletons form and speed along the 20 or so miles to the start of the climb up the Telegraph. In my feeble state I couldn’t stay with any of them, and my empty legs just got me dropped with each ‘train’ I tried to jump onto. The irony is that riding on your own is even harder work. Somehow I found group I could hang onto, and stayed with them to the start of the climb. Last year I’d stopped at the bottom of the Telegraph to get ‘organised’. This year I’d already decided not to do that, so set straight into the climb determined to get a few hundred metres of climbing before I stopped to pack my gillet, take off my helmet etc. By the time I did stop, my guts were bad. Not too fine a point, but there comes a state where you don’t care which bush you go behind! So began a very slow and gruesome grind up the Telegraph, littered with ‘stops’! I began to really wonder if maybe this year I wasn’t going to finish.
The Marmotte is not a race. Well not a race in the sense that with more than seven thousand competitors, there’s always someone ahead of you, someone passing you, and someone to pass. It was like that for the whole distance… nearly 180km from the start there were still packs of riders jostling for position. So slowly grinding up Telegraph, getting passed by people I knew I’d passed hours ago was really soul-destroying. In just a couple of hours I’d gone from the promise of a really improved time to wondering if the broom-wagon had my name on it this time waiting to sweep me up in shame.
Finally I saw the vantage point that marks the top of Col De Telegraph, and with some significant relief I had the presence of mind to put my helmet on for the short 30 mins or so before the desolate start of the Galibier…
Some time ago a good piece of advice was shared with me. When climbing, think of something nice. During training, I’ve built up a repertoire of ‘nice’ images - some less shareable than others, inevitably; but one really powerful one I’d saved all year is to think of great moments in my kids’ lives… guaranteed to bring a big smile to my face, and a large dollop of good feeling in my heart. So it was, that probably three quarters the way up Galibier, above the grass line, in the bleak, cold wind that’s omnipresent at such altitude, amidst the silent rustling and occasional heavy breathing of cyclists toiling up the pass, I thought of daughter number two… my tweetie-pie, so named because when she was tiny the “kiss”-curl she had was just like that of the Disney cartoon character. And suddenly, in that gently howling silence, before I knew it, it had happened.. at the top of my voice…” I taught… I saw a puddy cat….. a cweeping up on me….” Not a word was spoken. Not a sound made…even the wind seemed to stand silent for a moment….
Hmnn, maybe there was less oxygen up there than I thought…!
Another photographer at the top of Galibier, and another effort ‘out of the saddle’. Apart from continuing bad guts and, like everyone at the top of Galibier, empty legs, I was starting to regain my confidence in finishing. Stopping for water and to put on a jacket and gloves for the long descent, I figured out that, despite everything, I was still in with a chance of a time possibly better than last year.
The descent from Galibier is long, fast, treacherous, but above all, cold. I was using cotton gloves lined with latex, and even then they were cold enough for me to lose the feeling in my fingers when braking from time to time, and slipping off the brakes made me remember the poor fellow on the first descent who had been laid out and was being feverishly attended to by an ambulance crew - the sight of someone attached to a drip after an accident is not generally a good sign…
About halfway down I was passed by a French guy who clearly knew what he was about. I took the hint… he was a fantastic descender, incredibly smooth yet not too brave, and I thoroughly enjoyed latching onto him and following his line. Occasionally I caught myself out… he was just too good… and ran wider than prudent, but the effort to catch him made absolute sense. Eventually we hit level ground in the run back to Borg D’Oisans, and after a short period of drafting him, I felt obliged to take my turn at the front. As I passed I glanced his way… “Francais..?” “Qui” came the reply. “Votre Descende….. c’est Superbe!”… a big grin flashed back approval. Despite knowing this was emptying my legs before the big climb up the Alp, doing my bit at the front after such a tow made my heart feel good again, and what a great thing that was… turned out, it was just what I needed. Shortly afterwards we were caught and passed by another, slightly faster group, and the pair of us tacked onto the back for the run into the bottom of Alp D’Huez. As the group peeled off into the water & feeding station before the climb, I felt a slight dissapointment at leaving them as I headed straight on - I wanted to hit the climb warm - and I knew that Kat & Ren had promised to park themselves a few Km’s on with drinks and big carrier bags to take anything we didn’t need on the climb!
It was simply great to see them on Bend 18. For more than six hours I’d been solidly right-brained… in my own world, and barely spoken to a soul. So a friendly, familiar and sympathetic yet encouraging face was just what was needed. Support in more ways than one. Lee was with them too, and between them they bolstered me up for the last long climb up to the finish. And it was great to empty my pockets of the weight of that food I’d not eaten!
Climbing the Alp is a funny experience. The bends are numbered, and counting them down would seem the easy and obvious thing to do. But when you tiredness has taken such a hold that simple arithmetic becomes hard… so even counting down seems difficult! So instead of going down in ones, they seem to jump about in two’s, three’s sometimes fives!! But every which way, getting down to ‘one’ is awesome.. every time. Even though there’s still a couple of km to go to the end, it is the last major milestone.
At the finish line I managed the mandatory ‘get into the big ring and sprint’ and felt only a snippet of guilt about passing someone in the last 20 metres! Paul, Alan and Ian were there. They’d finished hours before, and it was great to see a welcome party. Thanks guys! And then the cold & tiredness set in! In ten hours I had eaten almost nothing, and only drunk half what I’d normally expected to consume. The short ride back (uphill) to the hotel was the coldest, most wearisome and hardest thing of the day! I was truly done for… and back at the hotel could only manage to sit, shivering in the shower before crashing into bed for a couple of hours of rambling sleep. My stomach was still giving me a hard time when Paul came in with a bottle of water…. I’d become more dehyrated than I’d realised, and after the rest, once I started drinking recovery came fast. Enough to join the group for a party celebration of Pizza and Chianti - what an evening - tired, but all with a sense of accomplishment we enjoyed each others’ company like no other time the whole trip. Very memorable.
Ok, I’m an engineer at heart - data driven: Similar stats to last year…
And last, but not least.. everyone who supported the Lymphoma Association this year. I didn’t want to push it too hard this time after everyone’s generosity last year, but it’s a great cause and I truly appreciate every single contribution.
I guess I’ll have to think about going back next year…..
Mark Edmonds writes...
"I will try and keep it brief(ish), but for those of you who didnt know, I have entered another two Ironman races this year... Austria and later, Florida in November.
As is the usual case with me these days my training had been massively interrupted once again due to injury. The offending items this time were my calves... pulled the right one at xmas when I was running well and then re-pulled it another 2 times when trying to resume running. Then managed to do the same to the left one and so in total 4 months without running and back training with 10 weeks left 'til race day and still with very fragile calves!!
Anyway, training over that 10 weeks was very steady (slow) and I didnt get done half of what I had hoped to do... just 3 weeks with a mileage scraping over 30mpw and a longest run of just 14miles 9 days prior to the race!
Anyway, time had now ran out to prepare so what I had done would just have to suffice and again I would have to call upon experience to see me through!
Race started at 7am and weather was predicted to be perfect.... 25-26C with little wind and part cloud! Well at least that was on my side! 2000 people in a mass start... always a little bit scary! Anyway, I got bashed quite a bit over the first 800m but after that things settled down and I manged to get into a less panicked rhythm. Exitting briefly after 2000m I had a quick glance at my watch to see I was on schedule for my planned time. Finally dragged myself ashore in 60th position in 54.37... exactly to schedule...
Part 1 done!
Transition a bit chaotic but found my bag and was soon on my bike.... 3 laps of 60kms to make up the 180km (112m)...
Plan was for a 5.10 ride as last year (when I only did swim and bike, no run cos of injury) I was on a 5hr schedule and I blew up in the 3rd lap... so caution was my word of the day!!
Lap 1 was 1.39 (same as last year) but heart-rate was a fair few beats lower than before so was happy with that! Generally falling back down the field position-wise but that was not an issue as long as I stayed strong and in control of my own game plan. Lap 2 was 1.41 and still feeling ok! Getting a bit excited now!! Lap 3 was soooo much better than last year when I died completely.... this time around, it was hard work but I held my position...1.46 so only a slight fall-off in pace.
Total bike time 5.07 (3 mins ahead of schedule...yippee!)
To the marathon.... getting off my bike I hobbled through transition slowly as my right achilles tendon was tweaking a bit (something I'd aggrevated on my last 3 training runs but I didnt expect to be an issue here... was slightly worried that I was limping a bit before the run had begun for real!)... a very slow second transition...5 mins! Took my time to apply sunscreen, pop to the loo etc... as well as also making the mistake of putting on my trainers before id changed into my running shorts... so then had to undo them, change shorts and then put the trainers back on again....oops! thats a novices mistake for sure!!
Started running and felt pretty good to be honest... immediately started to pass people and initially was knocking out 4.15 per kilometre... plan was to try and run 3.10-3.15 if I didnt die... and that was 4.30ish per km. Slowed it down intentionally from km 3 to 4.25-4.30s and basically held it there 'til 24kms passing the half marathon in 1.35 feeling great. At km 24 the wheels fell off so to speak and suddenly dropped to 5 min per km and then to 5.30+ and feeling terrible... and still 18kms left to run... hadnt been expecting such a dramatic drop-off! The next 11kms were hell and I was really struggling mentally and physically... all the time my planned schedule slipping further away after such a great start to the day which is upsetting and annoying! Really tryed to get back under 5 min kms again but couldnt find the sustained energy.
At about km 35 I suddenly picked up (maybe it was the fact I only had 4.5 miles left to go?) and managed to get back to my 4.30kms again for the marathon. Basically I saved about another 5-6 mins being lost. Finished very strongly with a time of 9.32.41 to come home in 81st overall and 17th in the 35-39 age cat and 5th Brit out of 200 or so entered.
Amazingly my run split was 69th fastest of the day... 3.22.21 whereas my bike time was only 267th overall. I passed 72 people on the run from T2.
My right achilles tendon is now sore and so I will need a few days/weeks off running to let it heal because thats 1 injury I dont wanna add to my list!!
So job done and only 3 mins outside my best possible case scenario of sub 9.30 goal. Cue now a couple of weeks easy to recover and it all starts again in prep for Florida when the target has now been upped to a sub 9.15!
Reckon I have a bit more to save on the ride (sub 5 target!), T2 and a good 10-15 mins to be had from my marathon time if the training stays good over the summer/autumn? Watch this space....."
11-12 June saw 3 generations of the Martin family riding the Devon Coat to Coast ride in aid of the Lymphoma association. This is a 2 day off road ride from Ilfracombe on the North coast of Devon to Plymouth on the South coast via some very lumpy bits of Dartmoor in the middle.
Paul did the ride with his son aged 12 and parents who are 'old enough to know better'. They did the in aid of the Lymphoma association which is a cancer charity offering help and support to sufferers of this all too common cancer. or simply stop me and sign my sponsor form next week when you see me.
"C2C went very well, weather was kind and we all enjoyed it. Jim stayed with the fast group for the 1st 40 miles on Saturday then had to drop back. My mum found day 2 hard but the fact that she didn't have any breakfast and rode for 5 hours on 1 Twix probably didn't help."
They raised £429.49. If you would still like to donate then you can do so online by going to www.justgiving.com/c2c2005
Three generations of the Martin family - Joyce, Jim, Paul and Mike
Andy went up to the Lake District to ride the Fred Whitton Challenge to raise money for the Samantha Dickson Research Trust who fund research into brain tumours and was in memory of Molly Swann. The Fred Whitton Challenge is a 107 mile ride covering all the main passes in the Lake District and is probably the hardest ride of this distance in the country. Route profile.
Although he'd originally entered back in February, his official entry had been returned as the event was over subscribed with 400 entries, but as the sponsorship was already in place, the plan was to start and finish in Ambleside rather than the official start/finish in Coniston.
Sunday dawned bright and clear although it was a bit chilly so arm and leg warmers were the order of the day. There was a light breeze but the rain that had been threathened earlier in the week didn't materialise. I started off and immediately joined up with a couple of riders on the official ride, only to get a call on my mobile a couple of miles down the road from my wife saying I'd forgotten my bottles. Doh! A quick retrace to pick up the bottles and then back on the route to join in with a larger group this time. They were already warmed up having ridden from Coniston and so the pace was reasonable on the flat road by lake Windermere down to the left turn for Troutbeck. Here was the first small climb which saw the group split up. Down through Troutbeck and it is then left up the first of the main climbs - the Kirkstone Pass (453m). This is actually easier from the southside but it was down to the middle ring for the steady climb to the Kirstone Inn at the top of the pass. The descent down the other side is probably the quickest of the Lakeland passes with swooping bends and little need to use your brakes. A small group formed up at the bottom for the flat(ish) ride up to Ullswater where we passed a couple of hand powered recumbents!!!
Through Patterdale and Glenridding and then it was over Matterdale to the A66 and left to Keswick where we then turned left again for the run down through Borrowdale alongside Derwent Water. Although the weather was starting to look a bit threatening (which is not surprising in the wettest place in the country), it held for the the 1 in 4 climb over Honister (386m). Here all hell broke loose with cyclists zig zagging all over the road and a large number walking. It was down to the granny ring but not quite bottom gear yet - I was saving that for things to come! A bit of steady climbing and I was overtaking lots of riders, although looking at my pulse rate later showed a 6 minute spell where it was well above what I was pursuiting at last year! The climb flattens out past the slate quarry and then drops down to Buttermere although care had to be taken and one rider managed to come a cropper on the way down. We cycled past the lake to the first check point at Buttermere youth hostel. Not being part of the official ride meant there was no reason to stop so it was on to the next climb of Newlands Pass (345m).
Newlands was a new one to me but a bit of steady climbing saw me over the top for the fast run down to Braithwaite which included a 'moment' involving 2 ft of spare road, a large flat spot on a new back tyre and a Volvo! Left in Braithwaite and it was over another new climb for me - the Whinlatter Pass (370m). This is not as steep or as long as some of the others but it is wooded which sheltered you from some light rain that was falling at this time. Here I joined up with another rider and we were to stay together for the next couple of hours. The route took you down through Lorton, Lamplugh, Ennerdale Bridge where we had to cape up for a short hail storm, over Swarth Fell and Cold Fell with it's views of the coastal plain and Sellafield, and then down to Calder Bridge and Gosforth where the second checkpoint was.
Again there was no point in stopping so I joined up with an Anglia Sport rider and one other for the ride down to Santon Bridge, Eskdale Green and Boot where the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway ('The Ratty') terminates. This is the narrow guage railway that inspired the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books.
The River Mite at Dalegarth Station. Most of the engines are named after local rivers.
The Hardknott Pass from Eskdale
Wrynose Bottom looking towards Hardknott
Paul Martin and Andy Ballentyne went to Ghent (Belgium) to ride the Omloop Het Volk Cyclo Sportive ride which follows the route of the classic cycle race round the Flemish hills.
We were joined at Paul's house on the Friday aftermnoon by Steve Kemp, an aqaintance of Paul's from Ford's and then we made ouy way down to Wrotham (Kent) to pick up Dave Churchill who we'd contacted via one of the cycling forums and who'd earlier ridden the Tour of Flanders Cyclo Sportive and wanted more of the same. We then continued down to Dover for the ferry to Calais and eventually got to the Hotel Trianon in Ghent about 10:00pm local time.
Saturday morning meant an early start with breakfast at 5:30 which didn't seem to faze the hotel owners one bit as they must be used to cyclist's wanting early starts. We stocked up on the continental breakfast and then made our way to the start. Signing on was a matter of paying 3 euros and completing a simple form.
We started at 6:30 to a few spots of rain, however this soon stopped and the weather forecast was generally good. The first hour we took very easily as were doing the longest ride of those available (210km). All we had to do was follow the arrows painted in the road which saves a lot of mucking about with route maps. However at times there might be arrows from half a dozen other rides in various shapes and colours so you do have to concentrate. We were caught by a couple of Belgians who seemed happy to sit on the front of our little group and Paul was soon chatting to them in Flemish. They were pointing out the sights (the local brothel among them!). After an hour or so a much larger group from one club caught us up. Paul, Andy and Dave decided to tuck in with this group but Steve decided discretion was the better part of valour and stuck with our original two Belgians. Progress was much quicker to the first checkpoint which was at the top of the first of the days hills (the Kluisberg) after about 50 kms. Paul was first to the top of the 1.8km hill, followed by Andy and then Dave and this was to set the pattern for the rest of the ride.
After a quick refill of the bottles and a piece of cake (provided by the organisers), we carried on without the group we had been with as they took longer to get organised. The hills of the Cote de Trieu (1.1km) and the cobbled Oude Kwaremont (1.2km) followed although we went wrong on the descent. A quick retrace and we were back on route. At this point we were soon caught by three locals who we were then to stay with for the rest of the ride. Again they didn't seem to want us to come through so we were content to let them do the pacemaking. and we were making good progress. At the second checkpoint we met up with the cycling club again and stayed with them to the 3rd checkpoint which was in the Romany brewery. Here you could help yourself to crude but filling sandwiches, soft drinks, or in true Belgian tradition - beer. Our 3 locals all had a beer while Paul, Andy and Dave refrained.
On the road again with our three companions, we had another quick stop where drinks were being handed out by the side of the road and then it was on to more hills, including the Muur Gerardsbergen which is the steepest on the ride at 20% and cobbled. The weather was by now hot and sunny and with very little wind - perfect riding conditions. We carried on up and down yet more Flemish hills until the last check point (and another beer for the Belgians) and from then on it was a flat run back to Ghent. Paul and Andy decided we had to keep the Brit's end up and took their turns keeping the pace high on the run in although it didn't end in a big sprint finish. We made the finish in a total time of 7 hours 55 mins.
After putting the bikes away, we had a shower and then a beer (or three) waiting for Steve Kemp to arrive which he did about an hour and a half later. After he was ready, it was then back to Calais for the ferry home and we were back home by 8:30, tired but content.
The bowling evening at City Limits finally took place on Friday 18th March. It didn't get off to the best of starts as the food provided was barely defrosted. Our culinary expert, Russell took them to task for this, complaining to the manager. In a short time the (very) cold buffet was replaced with hot food and complimentary drinks. The rest of the evening went with a swing, with strikes and spares all round, along with the usual erratic scoring.
This was a different format to that held previously with a meal at the La Bicicletta Italian restaurant in West Hordon. The owner - Alberto - is a bike racing fan and amongst the memorabilia on the walls are photos of Coppi, an Italian national jersey and an antique bicycle.
The starters were a cold buffet with a larges array of dishes on offer including Parma ham, smoked slamon, poached salmon, rice and pasta salads plus lots more. The main course consisted of hot dishes on various kinds, including chicken dishes, spaghetti, lasagne, Italian meatballs etc.
This dinner was also our 70th club dinner but was more informal than previous editions as we didn't have the usual speaches which led to a more relaxed atmosphere. The evening's main prize winners were Julia Freeman (Women's Champion, Women's Evening 10 series, Women's 10 & 25, Fastest 25 on age standard), Mark Edmonds (Club Championship, Handicap Championship, Fastest 10, 50 & 100), Andy Ballentyne (Track Champion, Road Race Champion, Most Meritorious Performance), Paul Martin (Men's Evening 10 series), Richard Jordan (BAR Clubman), Brian Bent (Ernie Innes Chain) and Allan Leighton (Fastest 25). The Maud Harrison trophy went to Anne Shuttleworth (Chelmer CC) as the fastest lady in the club's open Hilly 25.
Thanks to Linda and Chris for organising the Dinner.
Photos of the dinner below (click on the photo to see a larger version).
NB Higher resolution photos are available - please ask Andy Ballentyne
Molly had been battling against a brain tumour for the last year but passed away peacefully in her sleep on 11th January 2005.
Born Molly Smith in 1935, she joined the Easterley when she was 16 after a short spell with the Penguin CC. It was with the Easterley that she met her future husband Bill and they were married in 1954. After their first son, Terry, was born, she made a successful racing comeback and won the first of six club championships in 1957. In 1958 she was picked for the first Women's World Championships where she finished 13th in the same time as the second placed rider, and then 13th again the following year.
A broken collar bone meant time off the bike but she had her second child, daughter Frances during this period. It was also during this period that Molly started to get involved with the WCRA, organising their dinner and dance which she did into the mid 70's. Meanwhile she made another racing comeback to win her 4th club championship in 1969 and was picked for the eight day Tour Feminin. She continued to break club records during the 70's (her Vets (40-50) 25' record was only broken by Julia Freeman in 2004) with her last club championship in 1977.
Molly continued to be involved with the WCRA and took over the full Presidency in 1986. Together with our own Linda Johnson, she promoted the WCRA 3 day international stage races for a number of years which introduced many British girls to stage racing and foreign opposition. Bill and Molly also took girls to Europe to ride stage races over there - giving riders who would not necessarily be picked for the national squad valuable international experience.
Molly was awarded the Torch Trophy by Prince Edward in 1990 and British Cycling's Gold Badge of Honour in 1998 and she was our club President from 1991 to 1994.
The funeral was attended by nearly 300 people with a moving church service at St.Erkenwalds in Barking where Frances read an emotional tribute to her mother. This was followed by a service at the City of London Crematorium where UCI Vice President Ian Emmerson made a further tribute concentrating on her cycling career. The congregation then made their way back to St.Erkenwalds where the Hugh Rainey Jazz Band played some of Molly's favourite tunes.
Molly and Bill celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary last year, a testimony to the great love they had for each other. She leaves three children, Terry, Frances and Reg, and nine grandchildren.
Molly in action, racing for Great Britain
Julia and Andy both picked up trophies at the ECCA Prize Presentation and Luncheon on Sunday. Andy won the Rothmans Trophy as the ECCA Senior Track Champion and the Raleigh Cup for the ECCA 10 mile, whilst Julia won the Florence Lang Trophy as the fastest Lady in the ECCA Championship 25'.
Julia and Andy with their ECCA trophies.