The rest of 2017

Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas to everyone! There
hasn’t been a club blog since mid-August (which feels a lifetime ago in the current
weather), so it’s time to write about what happened in the rest of 2017.

As usual, the end of August saw our outgoing President’s
traditional long-distance ‘Summerhayes Summer Saunter’ bank holiday ride, this
year to Southend. In addition to this, the weekend before I organised a
car-assisted ‘East Anglian Adventure’ using this 82-mile route which starts and
finishes in Thaxted and takes in some of the most picturesque places in that
neck of the woods (Lavenham, Cavendish, Finchingfield, etc): https://www.strava.com/routes/6175019.

I was joined by Huw, Caroline, Alex and Tim. We set a decent enough pace in the
sunshine, despite the fact that Alex’s front mech immediately stopped working
and he spent the entire ride trapped in the small ring. One of our village sign
sprints (to Radwinter) was a bit more dramatic than usual – just as Alex, Tim
and I opened it up we were overtaken at high speed by a never-ending convoy of
motorbikes which added a bit more danger than anticipated. We stopped at a pub for lunch just outside Lavenham and then rode
the remaining stretch into a headwind. In the final miles Huw (who had
cunningly avoided all of the sprints over the previous hours) left us all for
dead and disappeared out of sight.

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It’s nice to get out and explore some different roads every
now and again like this with the aid of a car or a train. I’ve just bought a
‘Lost Lanes of the south-east’ book (http://lostlanes.thebikeshow.net/)
with about thirty rides in it – I intend to try to do one a month in 2018,
which obviously means getting a train or driving to the start/finish of each
ride. Hopefully we can organise some unusual club runs in Kent, Sussex,
Suffolk, The Chilterns and maybe even further afield.

September saw David Veitch break a club time trial record
yet again and in some style. Back on the E2 25-mile course again, he smashed
through the 50-minute (30 mph) barrier and then some, setting an incredible
time of 49:07.

Meanwhile some of us
were racing at Hog Hill. This video is cunningly edited to make it look as if
Charlie and I were always at the front of the 4th cat race:

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when we actually got to
the finish line. The same afternoon Tim took part in the 3rd cat
race and also finished in the bunch. Racing with rather
more success that month was Patrick McGrath who took just two races in quick succession to
amass enough points to move up to 3rd cat, with a 3rd place in just his second race. One to watch next season!

Late September / early October always sees our ‘Crescent 30’
and ‘Comet 25’ open time trial events. These are named after the two clubs that
joined together to form Lea Valley CC in 1969 (so the events have been running
longer than our club has been existence). I was marshalling for the 30-mile
event at the roundabout by Duxford Imperial War Museum. To our surprise, there
was an airshow on that day and the roads became increasingly clogged with
traffic that at some points was stationary around three-quarters of the
roundabout, and one of the two lanes was coned off just to add to the confusion.
Nevertheless, the riders managed to pick their way through and still set
impressive times. Colin Ward of Essex Roads CC won again with a time of
1:03:17. The fastest Lea Valley rider was Colin Ross who came 13th
overall in 1:11:25 (25.2 mph). Full results here: https://leavalleycc.microco.sm/conversations/311505/

The following week’s 25-mile was held in typical end of
season conditions: strong winds and loads of standing water from the overnight
deluge. David McGraw of Cambridge CC won in 54:52 while Chris Parker was the
fastest Lea Valley rider with 1:03:55. Again, full results are here: https://leavalleycc.microco.sm/conversations/311506/

 Then came our ‘Gordon Atwell Tourist Trial’ event. As last
year’s winner, Alex Sweeting was charged with organising it this year. It’s a
bit difficult to explain this event if you haven’t done it. It’s kind of a
mixture of a sportive, an old-fashioned reliability ride and a mystery tour.
You aren’t given a route to download and stick on your Garmin – instead part of
the challenge is reading instructions which you are given at the Burton End HQ
beforehand and trying to plot them on a map. You then have to aim to get back
at a certain time which corresponds to a particular average speed. Whoever gets
back closest to their allotted time is the winner.

This is more difficult than it sounds – if you don’t know
exactly how far you will be riding it’s difficult to judge how fast you should
be going. Things were further complicated this year by a savagely strong west-to-east
wind, which meant the return leg of the ride would be much harder than the
initial miles. I rode with James Morris and we made the task even more
challenging by repeatedly getting lost to the extent that during the first half
of the ride we were scarcely ever on the official route (and at one point when
we did finally get back onto it, we rode it in the wrong direction for several
miles before realising something had gone wrong). We also lost a good ten to
fifteen minutes in a Good Samaritan act helping a man who had somehow managed
to wrap his chain round and round his pedal. Actually, I say ‘we’ helped him,
but it would be more accurate to say James single-handedly removed the chain
and the rear mech and got covered in oil sorting everything out while I stood
around saying useful things like ‘how did you do that?’ and ‘I think you’ll
need a lift home’. Anyway, needless to say we didn’t win. That honour went to
Rosie Sweeting (who had recently married the organiser – I’m not saying that
interfered with the judging, but some people might smell conspiracy there) and
Jeanette Degiorgio.

Following this came the annual hill climb on Mott Street.
This has been getting bigger and bigger in recent years and this year it was as
big as possible: we had a full field of 60 riders and had more who wanted to
ride that we couldn’t offer a place to. Our numbers were boosted by CC London,
who had decided to hold their club event on the same day, and various other
local clubs, especially Shaftesbury CC.

It was a very close-fought battle for first place with two
Lea Valley riders a good ten seconds clear of the rest of the field. Last
year’s winner David Veitch set a blistering time of 2:12 but that was only good
enough for second place. Michael Krukov took first with a time of 2:11. We had
about 25 riders from our club taking place – far too many to give a detailed
account of everyone, but it’s worth pointing out very impressive debut
performances from Steven Boyle, George Kemp and Lewis Miles and a significant
improvement from young Aidan Kerrigan. The full results are here: https://leavalleycc.microco.sm/conversations/312632/

Tim Stout of Shaftesbury CC took many photos of the event
which you can find here: https://keepsnap.com/timstout/gallery/3500
They are available for download for approx £1.50 per photo (part of which will
be donated to Children In Need) – the photos will be online for about one more
month and then deleted.

The week after that
was our club’s annual circuit race, the Len Cooper, at Hog Hill. The weather
was cold, but much sunnier than last year’s foggy edition. As is traditional,
we started off with a neutralised President’s lap and kept the pace relatively
gentle during the unofficial ‘truce’ after that: 

Then the pace lifted as the hooter went to signal a prime would be held
at the end of the next lap and this is where the race split apart:

In the second video clip above around the 1:30 mark you can
hear the hooter and my rear cam shows Michael Krukov and David Veitch, the top
two from the previous week’s hill climb, sitting just behind me at the front of
the bunch. This was the shape of things to come (apart from me, obviously – as
you can see from the rest of the clip I expertly slid from the front of the
bunch to the back just in time to miss all the action). Michael won the prime
and a front group of five emerged, initially closely followed by a second group
of about six or seven. Before too long Michael and David had shaken off the
rest of the front group and they spent the rest of the race in each other’s
company, while Alex Sweeting, Paul Roberts (who already had a race from the
previous day in his legs as he desperately searched for the single point he
needed to maintain his second cat status) and Steven Boyle slowly dropped back
to swell the numbers of the second group on the road.

David won the second
prime and, as Michael freely admitted, was the stronger of the two of them on
the day, but he was unable to get rid of Michael. The two of them lapped even
the second group before going clear again to contest the sprint, in which
Michael surged off David’s wheel to claim victory for the second week in a row.
When the second group came round, Paul Roberts won a close sprint for third
place from Steve Boyle. 

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At the end of November we had our annual lunch / prize
giving at Wanstead Golf Club. This year we were treated to Michael Hutchinson
(multiple time trial record breaker and national champion) as our guest
speaker. He did it as Q&A session and dealt well with our questions on
topics ranging from the relatively safe topics of his own career and his Cycling
Weekly column to more controversial issues such as the reputation of Wiggins
and Team Sky in the wake of the TUE and mystery package revelations. Michael
brought along some copies of his latest book (https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/recyclists-9781472925596/)
to sign and sell – I bought it myself this summer and can recommend it.

As always, a lot of silverware was dished out – so much that
it would be impossible to list every single prize here, but here is a taste…

Colin Ross
picked up multiple prizes including Club Time Trial Champion, Club Best
All-Rounder, Club Time Trial Handicap Champion, Best 30-mile TT, Best 50-mile
TT and Best 100-mile TT

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Trudy Sharam
picked up prizes for Best Women’s 10-mile TT and Best Women’s 25-mile TT
(breaking both club records in the process)

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David Veitch won the Best
10-mile TT and Best 24-mile TT setting new club records of 19:29 and 49:07 

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Paul Roberts became both
Club Road Race Champion & Club Track Champion

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Michael Krukov won the Len
Cooper circuit race, the Hill Climb and became Senior Road Race Champion 

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Most improved
riders: Jemma Taylor & James Morris (who also won the Betts Trophy for the
ill-fated first day of his ride up to Edinburgh)

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Winners of the Gordon
Atwell Tourist Trial, Rosie Sweeting & Jeanette Degiorgio

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The club runs are still going strong, despite the wintery
weather. Alice Cutter has taken over running the Women’s Rides from Chrystyna
(who has now had her baby, we’re glad to hear) and these are still happening
once every couple of months. Here is their Blackmore café stop on the November
ride – the next one is coming up in January.

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Meanwhile, the usual
reminder that ideally everyone should have a rear mudguard during the winter
months, otherwise you will end up looking like these guys (Lewis, Simon and Simon):

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Even more extreme, this is George Kemp’s bath after he decided to try
off-roading in Epping Forest with James Morris and Chris West:

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Over the festive period we had about 15 riders on the
Christmas Eve club runs – some doing 45 miles with a supposed coffee stop at a
pub that was actually closed (and which we only discovered wasn’t going to open
after we had sat outside it in the cold for 15 minutes), and some doing 70+
miles with a loop around Hanningfield Reservoir. One week later only 8 of us
braved the weather on New Year’s Eve – not surprising given that there was
something of a storm going on when daylight broke, but in the end it wasn’t
that bad on the ride.

Away from riding we had a good turnout at The Castle in Walthamstow
Village for our drinks to celebrate Christmas and also a multitude of birthdays
– by a strange coincidence about half a dozen members have their birthdays
either on or just before Christmas Day.

Less successful was our AGM the week before. In order to
actually pass any votes and elect club officials (including the new President to
replace John) the meeting has to be quorate. Given the ever-growing membership
of the club that now means we need about 30 members to turn up on the night,
but we only had 12 and so nothing could actually be voted on. We have had to
reschedule the AGM to have a second attempt: it will now be on Tuesday 9th
January from 8pm – 10pm. (Edit: No, it won’t! It will now be the following Tuesday, i.e. 16th January). Please make every effort to attend if you can,
otherwise we’ll be in administrative limbo (and John might have to remain club
President for eternity). In case you didn’t know, club nights are no longer
weekly, they are monthly, and they aren’t in the church hall any more. We are
now based in the Scout Hall, 205a Wood St, Walthamstow, London E17 3NU. See you
there and have a good 2018!

Jamie 1/1/18

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