Thursday, 19 March 2015

Port Talbot Wh 2-up '25' 15/3/15

The Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25’ has been a regular fixture on the Team Grumpy calendar for a number of years. As usual, the two evenings prior to the event were characterised by conspicuous consumption of Leffe and curry. This was an acceptable preparation, since both members of Team Grumpy had seen their pre-season training somewhat derailed by illness. The team also avoided any serious bike tinkering on the day before the race. Indeed, the only issues needing dealt with were (a) "Grumpy" Art’s disc wheel needed to be replaced with his trispoke owing to braking issues, and (b) Grumpy Bob's left shoe wouldn’t clip onto his pedal. This turned out to be due to tiny fleck of mud in the shoeplate springs! Pretty quickly all was in order.
This year’s event (as in recent years) was held on the R25/25, which runs down the A465 dual carriageway from Resolven to its first turn at the Tonna roundabout, back up the A465 past the start to turn left down the B4242, turning at Ynysygerwen to finish some way past the Resolven junction. Usually the dual carriageway section is quickest, with the B4242 being quite slow, owing to its hilly nature.
The morning of the event was pretty cold and bitter, despite being far from frosty. But with long sleeved thermal vests under the skinsuits and decent gloves, Team Grumpy were pretty much set. New kit this year included new aero hats and the addition of Nopinz number pockets on the back of our skinsuits. The Nopinz pockets seem pretty good, though getting the number in place is a bit fiddly. No pin damage to expensive skinsuits, though!
After a brief warmup, Team Grumpy lined up and were off. Though not before an unfortunate wobble made Grumpy Bob worry about a start line collision. The outbound leg to the first turn was very quick, with a stiff tailwind. The Team had planned for Grumpy Bob to take some long pulls at the front to avoid "Grumpy" Art's breathing issues in the cold air – as it turned out, Grumpy Bob took longer turns at the front throughout the race, as "Grumpy" Art was still suffering the aftereffects of his recent cold.
All too soon, Team Grumpy reached the first turn, which was dealt in good style, and set off back up the dual carriageway into the headwind. For most of this leg, this just slowed them down, but for the last two miles or so, Grumpy Bob found his Hed Stinger a bit of a handful. No real difficulty or danger, though. Round the second turn and the intrepid team joined the hilly road southbound. This part of the course features some shocking road surfaces (on at least three occasions, Grumpy Bob heard his team mate grumping about some hole or other that he’d cycled through!), and some pretty stiff climbs. Team Grumpy made good progress to the third and final turn before heading back to finish in 1:03:16.
Team Grumpy wasn’t too disappointed with the time – it’s a tough course, and anyway, the team's 2-up technique was pretty well oiled throughout, with both riders making appropriate accommodation to the strengths of the other. In any event, Team Grumpy were 15th team out of a full field of 60 teams (only three teams didn’t start), and won third composite team.
Team Grumpy in action. Photo copyright Pete Hamer

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