9th March

Tony Rees reports on his first sportive of the year.


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.



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.



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.

24th January

Because of the current road conditions and the uncertainty of the weather over the weekend the decision has been made to postpone the 50 mile Reliability Ride scheduled for Sunday. It seems there may be an additional problem, with road works and lights on a railway bridge on the Flats and the possibility of road closure. Jeff has e-mailed as many members as possible and everyone will be informed of the new date when a decision is made.

Although a snow scene is always attractive, it is frustrating not being able to cycle for such a long period but it is not so unusual.

Some of you will remember 1983 ( I think ) when the Rhondda was totally shut down for almost a fortnight. The army was drafted in to help clear the roads and snow drifts were up to roof level.

Older members can think back to early 1963 with its deep snow. On that occasion, riding was almost impossible from the beginning of January with a mixture of snow, ice and freezing rain which continued on and off throughout the month.

On the 6th January, a small, intrepid group rode down to Llantwit Major and St Athan. Going toward Cowbridge only the triangle at the top of a roadside sign was visible because of the deep snow. Near Llandow there was no sign of the road and although it was clear after St Athan, it was impossible to see over the snow on either side of the road.

More snow followed in the first three weeks of February and then on 3rd March the clubrun went via Talbot Green to Swansea and back over the Rhigos.

The road was officially closed but we rode up past Tower Colliery with the track narrowing to car width and the snow at shoulder height on both sides. A small number of sightseers had driven up to the hairpin by the lake, which had frozen over and we rode past to come to an abrupt stop.

In those days the final part of the climb from the lake and round the top bend went through a deep cutting which was full of snow and we were faced with a ten foot wall of it. We hacked footholds in the snow, some of the boys climbed up and then reached down and grabbed the bikes as they were handed up.

There was no sign of the road from there, just pristine snow, so we walked across the top, passing a bulldozer and other equipment which had been snowed in. The army were apparently sent in to blast the snow away but failed. We had to walk all the way down to the watchman’s hut before it was possible to ride again.

We were tough in those days !