Mercia CC-Lloyds Cycles report 26.09.19.
Ian Hill went to France to take part in the premier Randonnee event – the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris. This event takes place every 4 years and is a ride to the Brittany Coast and back with a 90 hour time limit. It first started as a race in 1891 to promote the practicality of the bicycle and was won by Charles Terront in 71 hours 22 minutes, a considerable achievement given the state of the roads back then. Initially it was held every 10 years and the last ride to include professional racers was in 1951. The event gets ever more popular and this year there were 6673 entrants. It is run by 2500 volunteers and visited 178 towns on route.
The start has moved out of Paris to avoid the traffic and this year was from the Bergerie Nationale at Rambouillet in the parkland of the Castle. Riders are set off in late afternoon in waves of 300 riders at 15 minutes apart. The groups soon split up. Hill’s start was 18.15 on the Sunday and he settled into a steady rhythm on the initial forested roads. It was soon lighting up time for the ride through the first night and it was a sight to see the line of rear lights stretching in the distance.
Each rider had a tracker and also a Brevet Card. This was a booklet in which riders had to get stamped as proof of passage at each Control. Generally these were about 85km apart and had catering and sleeping facilities. There were also the local shops and bars in between as well as a lot of roadside stalls set up by local families to pass up coffee, water and pastries. It was like a festival at some control towns with supporting spectators lining the streets, music and the resident DJ.
By early morning, Hill had passed into Brittany after passing Fougeres and 300km of riding. The temperature soon warmed up and the riders faced another day into the wind and the rolling hills of Brittany. During the day he rode with Finns, Belgians and Irish.
Prior to the main climb of the Roc Trevezel, Hill caught some sleep before midnight in a roadside chair provided by locals who even covered him with a blanket. Further on, coffee and crepes from a roadside stall provided sustenance for the last stretch into Brest which was reached in 34 hours for the 610km. After a shower and kit change he set off for the return. The fastest riders had left Brest hours before and German Hajo Eckstein completed the full ride in a staggering 43 hours 49 minutes in his Velomobile, a fully faired recumbent machine.
Retracing, there was a constant line of riders still heading for Brest for the next 100km. The expected following wind did not give help since it had changed direction to be a headwind on the way back. Brittany was crossed on the Tuesday for an arrival back in Fougeres just after midnight. Although dormitories were available, Hill slept with head on arms at one of the dining room tables, it being quiet enough at night.
He made a start just before dawn with an aim to finish that day and avoid a fourth night out. By now the riders out on that section were few and it was not for another 100km before a small group formed with riders taking turns on the front. A London rider made a good companion for the last 200km as the riders went through the last controls including an additional stop at a village fete where the accordion player was entertaining the riders. Night came again but for Hill there was just one hour of riding to complete and with a flourishing finish he re-entered the Bergerie Nationale at Ramboullet to applause and cheering from the crowd and a finish time of 75 hours 57 minutes for the 1218km.
Riders continued to come in afterwards up to the 90 hour time limit. 27% of the starters (1702 riders) failed to finish in the time as some claimed it was one of the most difficult of the rides due to the headwinds and the relentless undulating course, it having 11853m (38888 feet) of climbing.
Anne Staley recently rode an unusual event which was the TLI (The League International) TT champs hosted by Stafford RC which is a non-aero event for normal road bikes with no aero equipment. In the absence of any other female competitors in her age group she she raced with group G 70+ men. She rode well and won the G group bronze medal on a 22.5 mile sporting course based around Rugeley, Abbots Bromley/Uttoxeter including plenty of hilly sections.
The 2nd rounds of the Cyclo Cross season have taken place in both the Notts Derby Cyclo Cross & West Midlands Leagues. Taking place at Markeaton Park and hosted by Cyclo Derby CC the NDCXL event is always a popular venue and the large number of competitors proved that this was to be no exception. Mercia Lloyds Cycles CC riders were well represented and first to go in the Boys Under 9 was Seth Harper in his first ever race. The 4 year old was undaunted by the number of older riders and acquitted himself very well when finishing well up the leader board in 49th place. One to watch in the future, no doubt. In the Under 12 Mercia’s much more experienced Daniel Ward was in very good form when finishing in 5th place behind his old adversary George Cooper of Sherwood Pines Cycles Forme. The following day in the West Midlands League he again finished behind Cooper but this time he was on the podium in a fine 3rd place.
In the events for older riders Oliver Parker again showed that he is a very capable rider finishing in 23rd place in a packed V40 category, the winner being the very experienced Ben Eady of Empella Cyclo-Cross.com. Stephen Herriman was 42nd in the V50 category and Julie Tipper had a much better race than in the opening ride finishing in 4th place in the ladies V50 behind multiple ex National & World Champions. The winner was Maddi Smith of Bolsover CC.
Unattached rider Christian Aucote rode his mountain bike in the fiercely contested Senior mens race. The course didn’t suit that type of cycle however, he had a fine race crossing the line in 18th position. The winner was talented young rider Jenson Young.