18th December

The Club held its Annual Presentation Dinner at the Colliers Arms in Cymmer on Saturday 15th November. As ever the Dinner was very well supported by members and their guests in a very social atmosphere. Members were delighted to welcome Life Member Tony Gammon, who has not attended the Dinner for some time. Tony was there to present the trophy he has recently donated to the Club, as was Judith Thomas and her son, and soon to be daughter-in-law, to present the Dudley Thomas Trophy.

After members and guests had enjoyed a wonderful three course meal followed by sparkling wine and mince pies M.C.’s for the night Jeff Matthews and Tony Rees kept the presentations moving at a brisk pace ably supported with the presentation by Gwyn Humph and Club President Gerald Clements.

A new prize winner for the Club was Thomas Stoddart who picked up the winners trophies for both the Club Thursday night events making him the winner of both the Dudley Thomas Trophy and the Tony Gammon Trophy. Another newcomer to the prizes was Simon Kinsey, who needed a large van to carry his haul home. Simon has deservedly won the Club Longmarker Trophy, 50 Mile Champion, 12 Hr Champion and the prestigious Club BAR Champion.

Other prize winners, more used to collecting awards at previous dinners, were Dan Taylor for the 10 ml Champion, Hill Climb Champion and the Short Distance BAR. On top of these Dan also won the Roadman of the Year riding as a 3rd Cat.

Steve Bennett kept up his excellent record of winning Club Championships by taking the Club 25 and 30 ml Champion. The Club 100 ml Championship went to Gary Flower yet another relatively new member of the Club who is ensuring that Acme Wheelers maintains it long standing tradition of success in time trialling competitions.

The Chairman’s Award went to our youngest new member to reward him for his hard work and determination to improve on the bike. In his first season of riding, Alec Morris has improved his fitness and bike skills while riding with members on the Club Runs and fully intends taking these skills on the Schoolboy racing scene next year, so good luck to him and all the prize winners for next season.

The final award of the night went to someone who has never said NO when asked to do something for the Club in the few short years he has been a member. Chris Thomas makes up in enthusiasm for what he lacks in bulk and is a worthy winner of the Clubman of the Year Award, presented the by Club President. Chris was overwhelmed with the Award and just as we would have expected couldn’t understand what he had done to deserve it. Well done Chris.

Many thanks to all those who worked so hard to ensure the event was a success and to all the members and guests who supported the night. We hope for even bigger things next year.

19th November

The Club Cyclo Cross Championship was for the first time to be decided at one event anDSC_7643d the Brecon Cyclo Cross was the chosen event to find the 2014 champion. Over 120 riders lined up for the event, incorporating bank run-ups and slippery descents and various obstacles for the riders to negotiate during this one hour race. A classy field assembled including Julian Winn a past British RR Champion and former colleague of Roger Hammond in the British Cyclo Cross Team and Paris Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt.

Club riders Jeff Rees and Tom Stoddart lined up to take on the challenge to become the Acme Cyclo Cross Champion. Considering both were coming back from illness and had missed the two previous events it was surprising that they were looking forward to competing against each other and battling for the title! The race got off to a fast start and Jeff with all his past experience managed to get ahead of Tom on the furious opening lap. Tom, however, calmly paced himself from the line and by the second lap managed to catch and overtake Jeff, opening a 45 second lead on him as the race progressed to the mid stage. Tom found his new cross bike to his liking as he set a blistering pace while many riders crashed on the slippery surfaces. Unfortunately 40 minutes into the race Tom started to experience a problem with his bike and as a result his saddle began slipping down, resulting in him having to ride out of the saddle, a very difficult thing on the tricky terrain. The mechanical problem finally caused Tom to disappointingly retire from the race, having worked so hard to establish a lead over Jeff who had now closed the gap considerably. This left Jeff in a position where all he had to do was to avoid crashing over the final laps and reach the finish. He battled on as the course became more and more hazardous while Tom sportingly cheered him on over the final laps. Jeff skilfully remained free from incident and managed to finish in fine style to successfully claim the Club Cyclo Cross Championship for 2014 and receive the Dominic Gambarini Memorial Trophy which he had previously won 14 years ago in the 2000 season.

11th November

Twelve members of the club left the Welcome Inn on Saturday 11th October for the start of the annual ‘Social Ride’. Following the success of last year, the destination was once again The Dragon Hotel in Swansea. The route took the riders on a circuitous route of the Vale of Glamorgan before heading to Porthcawl for lunch. Eddie’s planning reached new heights when the rain, forecast for the whole day, started and finished during the break. The second and quite undulating part of the route went through Margam, Skewen and Llansamlet before winding into the city centre to reach the hotel after 65 miles.

The group took full advantage of the leisure facilities (and bar) at the hotel before sharing an excellent three course meal. After a night on the town, the group left Swansea the following morning for the shorter ride home via the Neath Valley and Glynneath Bank. At this point some of the riders continued down the Cynon Valley while the majority rode over the Rhigos.

All the riders would like to thank Eddie for organising an excellent event and top class food and accommodation. In addition – many thanks to ‘the Blayney Crew’ of Darren and Fletch for carrying the baggage and providing support.

The Wednesday turbo training sessions are proving popular but with increasing numbers, the large hall downstairs was used for the fifth week when everyone submitted themselves to a twenty minute threshold test following a thorough warm-up.

Dan did a good job of mopping the floor afterwards, essential despite the fans working at top speed !

The sessions will continue through the winter and all club members are welcome to join in whatever their state of fitness.

9th October

A personal account from Jeff Rees from Round 2 of the Welsh Cyclo Cross Series.

130 riders lined up for the Amman Valley Cross‏. The start was 2 laps of a horse trotting/speedway track. I flew around there but then when we hit the first grassy climb my legs went. I can’t pace myself at all off the start I get carried away lol. The course had a bit of everything, grassy climbs, muddy section, twisty single track, through trees, a rocky path, a scary drop off, the horse track and a tricky small bank which the skilful riders could ride up but lots couldn’t (thank God I could ride over it as I dread to think what would happen if I had to run) . Tom rode really well ; the mtb is a big disadvantage at the starts as they are so fast, it must have taken him about a 3rd of the race before he passed me as you lose so much time getting caught deep in the field early on. He flew past me but did give me a shout and was mixing it up with some experienced cross riders. There’s talk of him getting a cross bike, look out when it happens.

I got up to 175bpm on my heart rate monitor and. averaged 166bpm for whole race so it’s no wonder I’m shattered after the race. The finish was classic. I was sprinting to the line against some Forza rider and just as I got ahead of him Ffion Jones the 18yr old junior female national champion passed us both lol. Tom’s position was 28th a great result and I was 41st out of the 130 starters. I hope to see more riders from the club as the series continues and especially for the Championship in Brecon on 26th October.

On Wednesday 8th October the first winter training session took place at the clubroom. The riders, using turbo trainers and rollers followed a programme aimed at improving pedalling technique and strength. The sessions will run throughout the winter and develop various elements of training. Advice on planning your racing programme will be available and Carl Banwell will demonstrate those all-important stretches to improve flexibility. Participants meet from 6.30 for a 7 pm start. Sessions last approximately one hour and a small fee of £3 per session is charged. Bring your own turbo-trainer, drink and towel !

30th September

Three Club Championships have been fought for in recent weeks. The Welsh 12 hour Championship field contained only one Acme rider this year, Simon Kinsey, who in his first attempt managed to finish the toughest of his challenges with a total of 186.57 miles. This not only made him the Acme 12 hour Champion but also our Best All-rounder Champion for 2014.

The Welsh 50 mile Championship came so late in the season that ever-keen Simon was our only male contestant. He added our 50 mile title to his wins when he finished in 2-26-04, several minutes off his best in 58th place but was closely challenged by our veteran lady contestant, Fiona Davies, who finished just one place behind him in 2-26-59. Fiona was very pleased with her time which improved her personal best by 4 minutes 15 seconds. She is now keen to improve her aerobic endurance further during the winter with the intention of competing in an Ironman [ woman?] event next season.

Our Hillclimb Championship [21st September] was held on Barn Hill this year to separate it from the hillclimb series held on the Bwlch and present a different challenge. On a warm, bright morning everyone was really pleased to see the smiling face of Gwyn Humphreys back in his accustomed place as finish timekeeper. Series winner, Tom Stoddart, was unable to test himself on the short course because he was riding his first ever cyclo-cross race that morning but there was still a good fight for the title with nine riders sent off by Margaret and Roger Evans who would later present their donated trophy to the winner. While some were grateful for their low gears and pleased to see the top of the climb everyone gave of their best. The more serious contenders for the title, however, announced their arrival with out-of-the-saddle efforts accompanied by many gasps as they fought their way through the dense shade to the bright sunshine at the top.

Winner of the title was Dan Taylor in a fast 2 minutes 10 seconds which included a long flat stretch to the finish line situated well beyond the hill to allow riders and supporters to gather in safety. Second place was taken by Steve Williams in 2-27 with Carl Banwell taking an unexpected third place in 2-34 to remind everyone he will be back in competition next season. Carl pushed a disappointed Ross Morgan off the podium by just four seconds but Ross gave it his all and thought he might collapse from his effort near the top. Gerald Stevens proved he can still power up the climbs with his time of 2-43 while Simon Kinsey surprised a few with his 6th place in 2-57. Following his son’s win in the hillclimb series, Kevin Stoddart had to try and follow his example and finished in a creditable 3-06, just beating Kerry Lewis by two seconds. Young Alec Morris proved the effectiveness of his new cleats and shoes when climbing, making a great effort in front of his family to cross the line in 3-30.

Two Acme riders lined up in a bunch of 140 to make a start in the first Cyclo-Cross of the 2014/15 winter season. In unusually mild conditions riders were in for a fast race on the Llantarnam Leisure Centre course near Cwmbran. Tom Stoddard, a very talented Mountain Bike rider was riding his first cyclo-cross race for the club and following a number of training sessions with past Welsh Cyclo-Cross Champion Jeff Rees the two would make good progress in the race.

The 10 mile course started with 2 laps of a football pitch and 140 riders trying to gain position was a spectacular sight as they raced to get onto a narrowing course to complete the numerous laps. Undulating grass fields with a zig-zags up and down grass banks and 3 sections of single track through trees was the nature of the fast course.

With Jeff’s past experience he started well in the mayhem with Tom lying midfield and both quickly got into a good rhythm, passing riders as the race unfolded. Unfortunately Tom had a bit of bad luck when a piece of marshalling tape got caught in his back wheel and delayed his progress, but quickly regained his position close to Jeff where both finished in the first 40 riders.

Jeff and Tom both enjoyed their first race and will definitely be back for more although the conditions are sure to get a lot muddier and colder as the season progresses in one of the toughest forms of cycle racing. The Club Cyclo-Cross Championship will be decided in a single race this year so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.