19th May

Last Thursday evening saw a brief spell of summer following a day of heavy rain and hail showers. It proved almost a perfect evening for the start of this year’s Hill Climb Series. Riders had to contend with a light wind on the climb but were able to recover in sunshine at the finish against a distant backdrop of Pen y Fan and Corn Du on the Brecon Beacons, both showing patches of snow.

Everyone was pleased to see Gwyn Humphreys and Carol Dietman acting as timekeepers once again and Simon Iles gave each rider a good, strong push-off at the start.

First rider away in the first competition of the year was young Ethan Derrick. The fitness gained from his circuit racing and track competitions [ 4th place in his age group and 5th overall in the Devil in the recent schools track championships] was soon obvious to all. He was first across the finish line and spent most of his recovery time watching other competitors fail to improve on his time of 13 minutes and 53 seconds. Eventually he was pipped by visitor John Hughes with 13-47 although Paul Harries [seen below] once again came out on top with 13-43 providing a very close finish.

All riders enjoyed the event and left looking forward to next week’s 5 mile time-trial. Steve Williams left to go to work but smiling, having gained fourth place. A few photos are in the Gallery and the full result in Results.

23rd April

The bitterly cold weather finally gave up its grip and the frozen streams and waterfalls above Llyn Fawr were flowing again on the day of the Bryn Griffiths 25 mile Time Trial. Unfortunately, the change in the weather also brought heavy overnight rain and strong winds which caused half of an already depleted field to stay in bed. Maybe they should have been more intrepid because Kieron Davies of Bynea CC still managed to win in the incredible time of 49 minutes and 56 seconds, closely followed by RAF CC’s Justyn Cannon, an Acme member in his youth, with a time of 50 mins 28 secs. Not to be outdone, the only junior entry, 17 year old Luke Davies riding for VC St Raphael, recorded an excellent 55-24.

Once again the Acme members showed how well they pull together with the event superbly marshalled and signposted. A great bunch of ladies in control of a vast supply of sandwiches and home-made cakes [ even some special Acme ones in club colours! ] kept riders and tired marshals well fed and watered. The atmosphere at HQ was of the usual friendly variety as riders gathered for the presentation of prizes by that good friend of our club, John Pritchard MBE, himself a former winner of the event on five occasions.

Organiser Tony Rees, taking the reins for the first time was more than pleased with the support he received from members, with even former organiser Chris Clements in charge of the result board and wife Caroline still overseeing the signing-on procedure. Riders once again commented on a well-run event and Tony’s friend Steve who kindly transported the result boards and accompanied him around the course said he had really enjoyed the whole experience.

Three of our riders competed in the event. Veterans Paul Griffiths and Kevin Bartlemore have been concentrating on endurance miles in their build-up to the longer BAR events so were happy enough with their times of 1-09-04 [Paul] and 1-03-45 [Kevin]. Gary Flower, off as first man, certainly did his Acme vest proud, recording 1-02-50 in his first ever 25 mile TT having recorded a 25-26 the previous weekend.

Riding their first Time Trials in that West Wales Cycling League 10 mile event. were Dai Long and Dan Taylor, both taking a rest from the road racing scene. Dai recorded 28-27 while Dan did a 25-04, mentally kicking himself for not going five seconds faster! Gary and Dan beat their bronze club standards for 10 miles. Gary then did the same for 25 miles and was only fifty seconds outside the silver standard. That should soon be within his grasp.

Our club vest has been proudly displayed recently in the circuit races at Llandow too, with five senior members joined by juvenile riders Ethan and Evan in the freezing and windy conditions that have marred all the races so far this year. Switching circuits, Dai Long competed in the criterium at Maindy Stadium last Wednesday where he gained his first point with 9th place and is now keen to collect more.

The first of our Club Championships, the 30 mile Time Trial incorporated in the Bynea event was held on Sunday 21st. Road works and traffic lights due to subsidence near Llandovery caused a change of course, riders starting at Manordeilo and following the A40 to Abergwili roundabout near Carmarthen where they turned and re-traced. Early weather prospects were good with no wind and a temperature of nine degrees but by the time of the 09.01 start a breeze had sprung up which steadily strengthened and reduced the temperature considerably. Three members only, contested for the Championship over this very tough and hilly course which was typical of some of the continental professional races and definitely a strongman’s course. First of our riders to start was Gary Flower, keen to beat a club standard and challenge for the championship following his excellent showing in our Open 25 mile. He rode on his new TT machine but was uncomfortable in his new position although he still recorded 1hour 19 mins 09 secs, beating the bronze standard by almost five minutes. Our eldest rider, Paul Griffiths, as keen as ever, struggled on such a hilly course to record 1-33-22, slower than his 2012 ride on the usual course but is looking forward to the rest of the season, flatter courses and warmer weather. Dan Taylor, on his standard road bike, made a strong start and at the turn was only 45 secs behind his minute man, number 25, Dan Colman. His road race background was of value on this hilly course where he continued to claw back the seconds to finish just ten seconds behind his quarry in an excellent time of 1-15-23, beating the silver standard by just over a minute and securing the Championship trophy for 2013.

Photos from the events can be seen in the Photo Gallery.

16th April

On Sunday 7th April, nine members of the club met at The Welcome Inn to take part in the last of this year’s reliability trials – The Hilly Ride (45 miles). After the recent spell of cold and windy weather it was nice to start the event in reasonably calm and slightly warmer conditions. The riders were waved off by new club chairman, Jeff Matthews who was accompanied by his predecessor Roger Evans and supporting cameramen – Kerry Lewis and Chris Thomas.

The group rode together up the valley and some way up The Bwlch before the first splits occurred. At the top junction there was no respite as the route turned right towards the Afan Valley. There was a very brief regroup at the mast, before the group split into two on the very cold (and icy) descent into Abergwynfi.

The front group – Paul Harries, Neil Lewis, Glen Waters, Phil Andrews, Simon Iles and Ian Humphries continued down the valley to the next climb from Cymmer, over the Bryn, into Maesteg. At this point the following group of Jason Dodd, Tavis Rees and Tony Rees were not that far behind. The pace increased in the Maesteg Valley before the route turned left towards Shwt.

This climb was surprisingly steep and made slightly more difficult by width restrictions on the road due to road works. It also had a little sting in the tail with the further climb to Llangeinor. It was on the descent into Ogmore Vale that Paul Harries strung out the front group into an order that stayed the same over the final climb of the Bwlch and back to The Welcome.

Jason, Tavis and Tony caught Ian on the climb to Shwt and this group stayed together until Nantymoel where Ian lost contact on the climb from the clock tower. He worked hard to rejoin on the descent to Treorchy and these riders stayed together to the finish.

Final finishing times were as follows. Paul Harries – 2 hrs 31 mins. Neil Lewis – 2.35, Phil Matthews – 2.36, Glen Waters – 2.40, Simon Iles – 2.42. Remaining Riders – 2 hrs 48 mins.

Because of their shift patterns, Dean and Hywel were unable to ride that Sunday but not wanting to miss the experience they rode the course on 30th March, completing the distance in 2 hours 48 minutes.

Many photos from the event can be seen in the Gallery.

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.