24th March

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Sunday 17th March stayed dry but cold for the Betty Pharoah Memorial Road Races. Riders left the headquarters for a neutralised start through Cowbridge before climbing onto the A48 to Corntown and Ewenny. The climb through the Gulch [ called Death Valley by Cardiff riders ] led to the Prime point near the cattle grid, the race continuing through Wick to Llandow and Cowbridge for further circuits before finishing on the straight past the Llandow Circuit entrance.

The main event for Elite, 1st, 2nd and 3rd category riders saw Team UK Youth dominate affairs with Devon rider Yanto Barker crossing the line first, closely followed by his six teammates. The race for 3rd and 4th Cat. riders included Steve Williams, Dai Long and Dan Taylor. Steve and Dai were eventually distanced by the bunch in this their first race on the open road but Dan road strongly, placing himself in the front of the bunch throughout. He may have spent too much effort at the very front because approaching the finish and final sprint [not his best asset] he was passed by about twenty riders and dropped back to 28th of the 44 finishers.

More photographs of the race can be seen in the Photo Galley thanks to Kerry Lewis and Chris Thomas who is just managing to prevent the long lens from overbalancing him. Phil Andrews endured the cold weather to support our riders and cwtched up to Chris to stop him freezing to death. Phil is no doubt itching to get on his bike and have a go himself.

At the Llandow circuit the previous weekend Steve Bennett once again showed his ability, following up his earlier points score with a top ten placing in both events he rode. On this occasion he took 7th place in the 3&4th cat event and went on to secure 4th place in the Vets only event totalling 16 points in two weekends.

New member Gary Flower was due to compete in a 25 mile time trial at Usk today [Sunday 24th] but it was cancelled because of road works. Very disappointed at missing this event he instead rode the Cardiff Ajax 10 mile TT at Risca on Saturday afternoon. He found the experience a really enjoyable one but managed to extend the race to eleven and a half miles ! Approaching the end of the race he was concentrating so hard he powered straight past the turning into the finishing straight on the estate. By the time he realised his mistake he was on double white lines and because riders had been warned of disqualification for crossing them he had to carry on to the roundabout, retrace past the finish to turn into the estate. He was estimated to have lost three minutes and may well have claimed a club bronze standard but for the detour. Never mind Gary, you are not he first Acme rider to add miles to a TT. Undeterred, he is keen to wear our club colours in the next available event and looks forward to being joined by other Acme riders.

Kerry’s response to the current weather conditions is expressed in his picture below !2

 

9th March

Tony Rees reports on his first sportive of the year.

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The temperature gauge in the car was showing two degrees when I arrived in Pendine to register for my fifth start at The Daffodil Classic Sportive. I soon wished that this was an accurate reading because the biting wind certainly lowered this figure by a considerable number of degrees. I was encouraged however when I realised that it would be a tail wind for the first part of the course. As this contains the longest and steepest climbs I knew I would be grateful for the unexpected assistance.

I made sure that I warmed up well on the sea front before joining the 200+ participants for the 12 o’clock start. I knew how essential this was because, after just 100 meters, it was a right turn at the end of the beach and straight up the 20% climb out of the village towards Red Roses. As usual this reduced many people to pushing their bikes. I maintained a steady, even pace to get me to the top among the front half of the field.

I joined a group of around ten riders that worked well together towards the feed station at Trellech. While a few riders stopped here, the rest of us continued until the headwind caused a further reduction in our numbers. Shortly after this I joined another group which I stayed with to St Clears and over the undulating roads to Laugharne and back to Pendine.

I was really pleased to finish the ride in a personal best time time of 2 hrs 46 mins. This was particularly pleasing because, like everyone else, the weather has not allowed me to get as much time on the bike as I would have liked.

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Steve Bennett also competed in his first race of the year on 10th March when he joined Dan, Simon, Steve Williams and Dai Long in the circuit races at Llandow. In the 3rd and 4th category event, club riders were in good positions through most of the race until a crash just in front of him stopped Simon. Checking on a fallen rider who broke his collarbone he lost contact and pulled out before the finish. Dan was in contention having ridden strongly but his finishing sprint was not fat enough to gain him any points. Steve Bennett, however, finished with a good sprint which gave him 5th place. Despite riding to and from the circuit on the coldest day yet, he decided to also compete in the following race for 2nd,3rd and 4th category riders where he gained even more points by finishing in 7th place.Steve is a 3rd cat while all six who inished in front of him were 2nd cat riders. We can expect to see more top ten places from Steve this year.

Welcome to several new members. Paul Rickards is young Evan’s dad and has been accompanying Evan to the clubroom and riding on the rollers at which he is now adept. This week they arrived with Evan’s new birthday presents. A track bike of his own for use at Newport Velodrome and a set of rollers for warming up, although Paul soon adjusted it to fit his own bike !

Callum Banwell is just 4 years old and now our youngest member. If he has inherited dad Carl’s genes he will be making peoples legs hurt in years to come. At the moment he seems more interested in the tea and biscuits at the clubroom.

Gary Flower is a triathlete and is so keen that on the day he joined he entered his first race, the Ross-on-Wye 25 mile TimeTrial later this month. Living in Llantrisant he will be able to get plenty of advice from fellow resident and ex Commonwealth Games rider, Gwyn Humphries.

26th Febuary

The first event in the club calendar finally took place on Sunday 17th February after being delayed for a fortnight due to the atrocious weather we are (again) suffering this year. Sixteen members and two guests left The Welcome Inn at 9.30am in dry but cold conditions to complete the 50 Mile Reliability Trial. Recently retired Chairman Roger Evans deputised for his successor as ‘starter’ as Jeff Matthews was off relaxing in sunnier climes.

The group rode steadily through Pontypridd and on to Treforest Industrial Estate before the first climb at Nantgarw. After a bit of regrouping it was on through Bedwas and the rolling roads through Machen and Rhiwderen to Tredegar Park. At this point there was a diversion along the A48 to Marshfield, due to roadworks on the Newport Flats, before the usual route was rejoined. Ian Humphries provided the entertainment during a ‘natural break’ when he performed a ‘piked triple somersault’ down a grass embankment that resulted in some unfortunate brown stains on his shorts. (Always a crowd pleaser!).

The centre of Cardiff provided unwelcome disruption to the ride, with every set of lights changing against the group. A slight increase in pace at Old Llantrisant Road caused small gaps to appear on the undulations towards Groesfaen.This resulted in some riders being held at the traffic lights at The Castell Mynach pub while the majority rode together to the finish at the Royal Mint. All riders finished the ride in just over 3 hours – at least 20 minutes inside the allotted time for the distance.

Sunday 24th February saw Dai Long, Steve Williams and Dan Taylor competing in the first circuit race of the year at Llandow. A huge number of riders and supporters overflowed the car park and were greeted by a grey morning with a biting north-easterly wind on the riders left shoulders approaching the finish line on a clockwise circuit. All three of our riders were competing in their first ever race of this type. Their lack of experience didn’t allow them to challenge for points but all rode strongly throughout, maintaining their effort to the line which bodes well for future races. It was especially pleasing to see the large number of juvenile riders of all ages taking part. With the amount of talking and shouting going on it was a wonder they had breath to race but were certainly enjoying themselves. Work commitments and health problems prevented a number of our riders from taking part on this occasion so it will be good to see a large number of Acme jerseys in the upcoming races. There are many others in the Club with the ability to compete in these events so why not join the current riders for a half hour race ?

More pictures from both events are in the Gallery. Thanks to Kerry and Chris for standing for so long in the freezing wind to provide the superb quality, Llandow photos.

 

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13th February

Question of the Week.

Which Acme holder of a TDF climbers jersey tempted fate this week by asking a Llantwit Major butcher ” Which stable did it come from ?”

Continuing the jersey theme, illustrated below is the new Club design chosen at the recent Annual General Meeting. The final details will be subject to approval by British Cycling and the production requirements of the manufacturer. At present, several manufacturers are being considered, with quality as well as cost being an important factor. It is intended that the new kit will be available to members in time for the 2014 racing season.

Welcome to new member, Dale Stollery from Nantymoel who, together with Colin Jones, also of Nantymoel is expanding our catchment area westwards. We look forward to seeing you both on clubruns and at the clubroom.

2nd February

The clubroom was packed for the Annual General Meeting on Friday 1st February. Longtime chairman, Roger Evans had announced his decision to stand down and Jeff Matthews was elected to take his place. Jeff ably chaired the remainder of the meeting during which the retiring officers and committee were re-elected. Roger was given a vote of thanks for the way he has carried out his duties, always having been cheerful, ensuring members concerns were heard and encouraging new members. He frequently turned up to greet everyone before the clubrun left on Sunday mornings.

A number of matters were discussed at length and everyone was keen to see the proposed new designs for our kit. Kerry Lewis projected images of the two designs put forward by the committee before the meeting made a choice between these and the current pattern. In a short space of time there was an almost unanimous decision to adopt one of the new designs. The next step is to choose a manufacturer so the new kit will be ready and registered for racing in the 2014 season.

The room was just as busy the previous evening with three under 18 members enjoying themselves on the rollers and demonstrating their skills to the senior members. Seen here is Ethan who began as a very junior member in 2003, learning skills in the Saturday morning sessions. He is now very active using those and the other skills he has developed on the boards of Newport Velodrome where he rides and races three times a week. His younger cousin Evan was also riding the rollers unaided. Both seem to have inherited the genes of grandad, ex- chairman, Roger Evans. Also exhibiting a very smooth style in his first attempt on the rollers was 17 year old James. More photos can be seen in the Gallery. Members are recommended to look at the History section which has just been updated with some interesting facts about the Club.