Wally Gimber RR

25 Mar

Today was the day of the Wally Gimber trophy. A race that has run for the last 55 years straight hosted by Dulwich Paragon who do their fair share and then some for amateur racing I feel as this is one of a number of events they put on.

If you read my last report you might recall I mentioned a total lack of top end and my legs just deserted me. That evening I actually was shivering then breaking into sweats. I pt took 4 days off work to get over whatever virus it was that I had that was clearly present during the second half of the race. The aching neck a tell tale sign of something not being right. With an enforced week off the bike I was glad to have a weekend off racing as it would at least allow me to get some riding done. I’ve felt pretty good since then and this last week I managed to get in some good riding. So while I doubt I’m 100% where I was I think I’m pretty close.

Sadly during the week my Quarq had given up again (Cyclepowermeters doing a sterling job so far of getting it back up and running) so I was racing on Sunday with all the gear but none of it was working! The race had an 11am start which was a good thing given it was some 70 miles away in Kent. I got there with plenty of time, though it would seem everyone else had got there with even more as the car park was jam packed! Quick sign on and get the bike put together I scouted a few faces to see what was what. It was a strong field with presence from most of the big local teams and a smattering of others with the likes of Alex Peters, Jason White and recent north road Hardriders winner Ash Cox making up the numbers. I’d nit ridden the course but was told by Jake Martin while warming up that it was fast and the wind would play a part, he’d raced a few times before here.

With kit ready, and field assembled we had a pretty stern talking to and were told that all the NEG riders would be on the look out for poor riding given the recent fatality at Mountbatten. Fair enough it was too, nobody wants this sort of thing to happen in the sport. We got off to a quick start, the nervy neutral section out of the way and the first time up the only climb of the circuit (nothing to note really, fairly straight forward) proved useful. As it was clear that the way the race would play out would be down to who made it over the top and onto the bunch before it flew at over 40mph down passed Tenterden. The first few laps it was a case of getting up the hill and then burying yourself in the 53/11 to stay in touch down the hill, shortly to be faced with a pretty strong crosswind before the course wound it’s way back to the hill.

The first few laps saw a few minor groups get away and I think there were a couple who had a minute at one point, but it would always be tough for a smaller group with the wind and speed in which the bunch was taking the downhills. After the first few laps, the sunny but chilly weather slowly went, and in came the torrential rain and the temp dropped a deg or so. My clothing choice was soon shown to be totally out of place, shorts, jersey, fingerless mitts. With a couple of laps to go I couldn’t feel my hands, people were pulling out left right and center. Some through choice and others just couldn’t keep touch at high speed with numb hands. I nearly joined them. A bone was tossed (certainly I saw it as such) my way when I learned they had cut a lap off to take the race nearer to 72 miles than 85. With this in mind I was going to at least finish to make it worth the drive. By the last lap the group was small, under 30 I should think with riders losing touch and going backwards all the time. It was at this point with half a lap to go that Jake, Elliot of Rapha and two Trek (I think) riders got a gap. I thought it was a great move and they quickly pulled on the bunch. A combo of not everyone working and a rampant bunch looked like it may bring things together.

By this point I was shivering and praying for the hill just to warm me up, with a quarter of a lap to go and those boys off the front I thought I’d have a dog and jumped up the outside to try and move clear. A few shouts of ‘up up’ and that was the end of that as the bunch got me again. My legs felt good most of the day but I was too cold by this point to really have much left. As the finish approached we swallowed the break and it was going to be a sprint up the short climb to the finish. I was mid field and went to sprint and nothing happened, well, I went backwards is what happened, cold and cramp, I finished just off the back of the main group of 20 or so. Initially I was fairly pleased to have stayed in touch, bit of a shame about the end as on another day I’d have probably finished right up there in that sort of scenario but it wasn’t to be today.

Jason White formerly of Metalktek managed to hold off Will Goulbourne (who battered the Andy Morrison 2/3 last year, talented rider) for the win. With I think Lewis taking 3rd for PedalHeaven.

My attention quickly turned to getting into some warm clothes and as much sugar as I could afford with the shrapnel in my pockets! The race was fast, over 26mph average inc neutral, so likely 26.5 or so without. Nippy. Legs felt good, no result but was pleased to see if managed to at least get over last week. Good training for the wet and windy climate of Ireland anyway where I’ll shortly be heading for the RAS Mumhan. Anyway I’m off to buy some wind proof base layers!


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