Monday, 7 March 2011

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25'

The signs were ominous.  'Grumpy' Art's training programme had recently gone slightly off the rails, while as observed in the previous post, Grumpy Bob suffered a ghastly comedy back injury three weeks before Team Grumpy's opening 2-up event of their 2001 time trial campaign.  To add an interesting frisson of excitement, it transpired that the Team Grumpy entry had been lost in the post, and only a phone call of enquiry from 'Grumpy' Art in the nick of time earned Team Grumpy a start in this event.

Absorbing medical advice, Grumpy Bob did in fact manage to turn up in South Wales in a relatively pain-free condition.  All that remained was to see how Team Grumpy would perform on the day.

Team Grumpy conducted their usual preparation: consumption of sufficient energy drink. Thus fortified (and indeed entertained by 80s pop music courtesy of Sky TV), Team Grumpy retired to dream soothing dreams of time trial success.

The morning of the event dawned rather cloudy and cool - but not as cold as the sub-zero conditions faced by riders in the 2010 edition of this 2-up.  Team Grumpy set up the bikes with clear apprehension: what would the consequences of their combined lack of training be?  And would Grumpy Bob's back hold out for the whole 25 miles?  More to the point, what was the road damage on the second half of the course to which riders' attention was drawn on signing on?  And, indeed, how significant was the presence of traffic lights on the same section (to which the instruction that riders must 'obey the highway code' was appended?  In an effort to answer these uncertainties, Team Grumpy nipped out for a brief warmup. It was quickly apparent that (a) the road was in a shocking state, and (b) the traffic lights were at the top of a climb and looked like they could present real problems if at red.

With reconnaissance over, and all too soon, Team Grumpy lined up and launched themselves onto the course (see map here).  The opening dual carriageway stretch proved to be very fast, with a gentle tailwind.  Team Grumpy dropped back into 2-up mode straight away.  After the first turn, the going got a little harder, as the head wind was nagging.  Team Grumpy was gratified to see their Manager on a bridge apparently videoing proceedings as they made their way past the start area.  Once off the dual carriageway, the usually efficient Team Grumpy changeovers became rather ragged as the pitted and potholed road surface made it difficult to judge whether a rider was pulling out to let his team mate through or merely to avoid crashing through a pothole. 

A massive sprint got Team Grumpy into the traffic lights on amber, but at the cost of a bit of an oxygen debt: this rendered the approach to the turn somewhat arduous.  Returning to the traffic lights, delays were once again avoided.  This was just as well, as by this time Team Grumpy were hanging on for grim death, looking for the finish line, which seemed to take an eternity to arrive.  Eventually it did, at 1:04:36.  Not an excellent result, but enough to take a composite team prize.  More to the point, at least Team Grumpy proved their ability to ride well as a team, even after a lengthy winter lay-off.

Results are here.

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