Friday, July 04, 2008

Abergavenny Folding Society Members on a 25 mile Sportif

Caption; L to R; Steve Kay, Philippa Wheeler, Carol Kay

Report by Graham Beattie

Abergavenny got into the national cycling calendar last year, giving a last minute venue for the national race plans which had been disrupted by floods. Tucked into National Bike Week, there were spectacular events again this year, ranging from racing through the closed off tight streets of the town centre on Friday night, (watched by hundreds of spectators and cycle enthusiasts with pints in their hands!) to the Welsh Grand Prix on Sunday.
Good weather for those events, but Saturday morning started of with much rain, offering a possibly wet day to people intending to take part in one of the three Sportif rides; 100 miles, 50 miles or 25 miles. 25 miles is roughly the distance of each Folding Society outing, but engineers possession of the Newport- Shrewsbury railway line most weekends this year had prevented getting to Saturday spins with other folders. So whilst these are the sort of distances that some heroic Audax riders take for granted on their folders, three of Abergavenny’s less competitive Brompton owners had decided that timed 25 miles on a Brompton was too good an challenge to miss, and so Philippa Wheeler, Carol Kay and Steve Kay turned up in Bailey Park to sign on and get ready for a mid-day start. Carol was on her recently acquired gleaming titanium frame bike, Phillipa on her Steve Parry modified machine, and Steve Kay riding yet again on his much used 6 speed. Possibly most significant contribution to mileage; each bike with a good Brooks saddle.
The rain had stopped, and awaiting at the start line a number of people on a variety of machines said the same as Team Brompton “It’s a Saturday ride, we’ll just go at touring pace, perhaps stop en route for a pint.”’ When the flag drops however, the red mist descends, and none of what was said is true! Serious pace was tried for from the very beginning, and whilst the fastest machines pulled quickly away from the Bromptons, we were by no means last. Also being Veteran Cycle Club members, but only Philippa having Velodrome competition experience, we nevertheless quickly mastered tight cycling, and established very close riding, good cadences and frequent leader change giving a fast speed along the first leg of the Sportif to Usk.
The second leg from Usk to Raglan was much more hilly, the team breaking up at differing climbing speeds, but on the outskirts of Raglan a brief stop for energy bars and swigs of water re-established the trio for close pedalling on the return to Abergavenny. Almost within sight of the finish one bike suffered a derailleur shifter problem, but as riders temporarily became mechanics it was quickly attended to, and the three team members crossed the finishing line abreast.
Time; 1 hr 53 mins 17 secs with which we were delighted. Ordinary gear ratios, front bags carried for water bottles and potential rain protection, team average age in the region of 56; so a pretty good performance. We were most flattered by a number of the other riders on serious fast machines who came up and said how surprised and pleased they were at what the Brompton team achieved and how much quicker we’d been than they expected, and we were delighted to show what a well engineered and thoroughly useable machine they are. So after much talking, the drizzle resumed and it was time to cycle home, Bromptons to be cheerfully folded again. Track engineers have now handed the line back, so we sincerely hope get the train to see folk at Malvern again this year, and listen to very serious tales of Audax, Lands End-John O’Groats and other triumphs!.