East District 10 mile time trial championship on course B10/37R on Saturday 11 June – Bruce Williams reports
70 competitors including 10 women competed in the EDCA championship ‘10’ on Saturday afternoon, a good field but 10 or 20 less than it would have been owing to a clash with a VTTA East Anglia event (a fifty mile time trial) on the E2 Cambridgeshire course on the same afternoon, a fast course that always attracts full fields with its promise of fast times. Hopefully, the various organisations – VTTA and EDCA in this case but, on other occasions, EDCA and ECCA – can avoid clashes of this type in future years to the benefit of all parties, including the riders, and the respective events.
Flying the flag for the NNW in the EDCA championship on Saturday were Aiden Bond, seeded at number 15 and John Morgan, at 33. Pre race favourites included Paul Jay of Team Velovelocity, at 20, and muscular, fast cycling police officer, Steve Gorbutt, Diss and District CC, off at number 50. This event was very well organised by multiple EDCA winner and cycling coach, Daniel Bloy, who decided to forego the chance to add to his medal collection on this occasion in order to focus fully on the organisation. He said that he thought it was too stressful to try both, poor chap.
HQ for the event was Tottenhill village hall – a nice spot with excellent car parking – and, a nice touch this I thought, marshals and helpers were provided with vouchers for any number of free drinks, cakes and sandwiches at the expense of the EDCA. I duly consumed two coffees (pre race) and two teas (post race – but no food!) consoling myself with the thought that the EDCA owed me a few freebies over the last few years. Like riders, helpers are normally entitled to one free drink at hq after each event and previously I always paid for my 2nd cup of tea! This was a real treat and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The course is well known to EDCA cyclists (well particularly riders of the Kings Lynn CC and Wisbech Wheelers who use it regularly for club time trials) beginning on the A10 south of Kings Lynn heading south toward Downham Market until turning left (east) onto the A1122 at Bexwell roundabout. From here it is just under 3 miles to the Stradsett cross roads with the A134 (where I was marshalling) where riders turn left again to head north to the finish at Tottenhill. An interesting tri-angular course where the finishing leg does not quite return you to the start point, but with the start and finish only separated by a mile or so.
Weather conditions were hot and very humid so I could not help but think that, whilst this was ok for a ‘10’, it would present quite a challenge to the VTTA riders doing the ‘50’ on the E2. Best be prepared with both energy drinks and extra supplies of water for this. Wind conditions on our course were reasonable with, as I saw it, the riders getting some drag benefit from traffic on the A10, certainly getting wind assistance on the A1122 2nd leg, but with the finishing section on the A134 proving tough. This last leg was certainly where the race was won and lost.
Most pundits had Paul Jay as the favourite but, whilst recording a time of 21.12, he was beaten into 2nd place by Oliver Milk of Tri-Anglia Triathlon club who recorded a fine time of 20.59. Tom Fitzpatrick of Spirit Racing Team (London West District) was third with 21.23 ahead of Chris Skinner (well known to NNW as a quite regular guest rider in our club time trials) of Team Pedal Revolution (formerly API Metrow) in 21.38, the same time being recorded by Steve Gorbutt. Veteran’s prize was won by Chris Womack of VC Baracchi, aged 69, beating his age standard by 5.23. Oldest vets in the field were Brian Foster and Ron Back, both in their late 70’s.
Excellent times were recorded by Aiden Bond, in 8th place with 22.03 (he really only trains by riding to work on which basis his times are remarkable) and John Morgan, in 18th place, with a fine 23.06. He has not told me, but I suspect that John is putting in extra training and is riding well. Probably the ride of the day was that of the aptly named Verity Smith (Stowmarket and Dist CC) who, in the race of truth, performed biblically to set a new ladies course record of 23.16 (breaking the record by a sizeable 38 seconds) ahead of Jennifer Smart (VC Norwich) with 24.30. Louise Marsden of VC Norwich – (and 2nd claim NNW rider, (ed.)) who rides NNW club time trials quite regularly – was third ahead of Agata Milk (CC Breckland) and Francesca Rust (Ely and Dist) in 4th and 5th places.
In one sense, the action was all around my Stradsett marshalling point. The entrance to the Stradsett country show was a short distance from us and caused some concern but, in the event, there was no traffic build up of cars turning right into the show to worry about. However, at our very busy intersection, one OAP motorist appeared to panic at the sight of two marshals in high vis jackets on the traffic island and promptly stopped his vehicle right on the junction to the embarrassment of all traffic including a fast approaching cyclist about to make his sharp left turn. We shouted and gesticulated to him frantically to get going but as he set off very gingerly (as my father would have said, ‘with all the pace of a burrowing mole’) rather than practically stop, the cyclist pulled out to pass him riding on or briefly over the central white line in the process. I don’t suppose that this experience did much for the driver’s confidence for the rest of his day behind the wheel.
This is just the sort of incident that marshals and event secretaries do not want at time trials. We were under instruction to report such incidents to Daniel Bloy, but all accepted that, in the circumstances, the motorist was fundamentally at fault forcing the cyclist into an unusual manoeuvre. One other competitor was warned by Bloy for approaching the left hand turn too wide (there was no line in the middle of the road and I am not sure if he would have crossed it but he might have done) in order to sweep round with more pace. Riders had been warned of this particular junction and these transgressions in their pre-race start sheet instructions and myself and the other marshal had been asked to look out for and report these particular issues. Amateur time trials are held on open roads and the onus is on the event secretaries and particularly the riders to exercise care and common sense. Visibility was good but I noted that almost all riders had constant or flashing rear lights.
Next weekend is the EDCA championship ‘25’ on the Wisbech course, with Charlie Nurse a real contender; but there is also the ECCA ‘100’ on the E2 which, despite a ludicrous start time of 4.45, has attracted possibly the best national field for a ‘100’ for some years. (That is what a fast course can do, I guess, with national BAR contenders not wanting to miss out compared with a rival). How to be in two places at once? A good trick if you can do it. If anyone can advise me on this, do give me a call.