The Club Minibus, was once again called into service to take 4 of the 5 duo's south to Pulborough.
Meeting up at 6:15, we were loaded-up and away just past 06:30 - on a Sunday morning! After the clocks had gone forwards too! What were we thinking of ??????
In attendance were Barbara, Mac, Tom, Lisa, Des, Tina, Zoe, Rob, & Mark, with Stuart & Gabi opting to travel later due to their start time.
Conversations were mainly based around practicalities, team tactics & course familiarisation, with Mark asleep in the back seat!
Upon reaching the HQ, the sun was visible (occasionally), but there was a real chill in the air, making kit selection a lottery.
Once the bikes had been removed from the roof, and riders had signed-on, race preparations were under way, with some deciding to warm-up (metaphorically) on turbo's, whilst Lisa, Des, Tina, & Zoe headed off on the 4 mile trip to the start line. A few extra miles were squeezed in to aid circulation before the start, then Lisa & Des were off, followed soon by Tina & Zoe.
The Sporting GS987 course comprised of a 16.5 mile loop to be covered almost twice, thoughtfully allowing you the opportunity to predict where you're legs were most likely to be screaming on the second lap!
Travelling northwards through the villages of Ashurst & Partridge Green, the course undulated with some short but nonetheless notable crests, followed by restorative periods where smooth pacing could be achieved.
A pattern soon became apparent, with Lisa to the fore on the ascents, and Des pulling on the flats & descents. On this basis, we progressed around the course proportionate to the terrain and our abilities, and smooth transitions allowed an optimum pace to be achieved, whilst allowing the following rider to recover.
Approaching, then turning south onto the A24 at West Grinstead, the road took on an upward tilt with a steady drag, causing legs to burn and the drawing of deep breath, before smoothing out for a short period.
This dual-carriageway incorporated a further 2 long and energy-sapping inclines, again followed by more flowing sections, before a the next left-hand turn onto the A283 at Washington.
After an initial rise, 2 blissfully fast stretches (only briefly interrupted) followed, before turning left back onto the B2135.
The short rise back up to the start line caused grimaces and gurning, but at least we knew we were over half-way around.
We were shortly passed by the 'scratch' pairing of Steve Geran & Phil Sykes (VC St Raphael), who were riding at an impressive pace.
A vision appeared on the horizon - was that a flame-retardant red bandana, or were we just still half-asleep......no, it was the one & only Dave Peck riding out to support us!
That gave us a real lift, and extra effort was applied, knowing that the end was drawing slowly closer.
The A24 was ridden at an increasing gallop. Tom & Mac passed us by, soon followed by Stuart & Gabby.
All was going well until the final drag up to the finish line, where a suffering Des almost ground to a halt, before gathering what was left of his strength, and launching himself toward the line.
We were pleased with our efforts, especially our teamwork on the day, and felt as though we had allowed each other to give our best performance, but were equally relieved that it was all over!
The organisers had a special treat in store for us as we turned off the main road to follow the signed route back to the HQ. No more than 100yds after the finish, we faced yet another climb, this one worse than any we had seen on the course!
Back at the mini-bus, tales were told, and experiences exchanged, before we walk back up to HQ for well-deserved beverages & results.
16 - Graham MacNamee & Tom Sutherland -
23 - Stuart Stow & Gabriela Drozna - 01:23:55
30 - Des Bennett & Lisa West - 01:33:56
33 - Tina Reid & Zoe Yendall - 01:35:45
DNF - Mark Spindler & Robert Archer
Apart from Lisa & Des, none of the riders had ridden as a pair before, and it was also Tom's, Tina's & Zoe's first attempt at time-trailing, so some exceptional performances then.
It transpired that Mark & Rob's DNF was due to Mark electing to make un unscheduled left-hand turn after passing the finish line on the first circuit, whilst Rob had continued on the course...........
Back on the road home, we decided that our traditional TCC Cafe stop should not be foregone, and Barbara guided the mini-bus up Zig-Zags to the top of Box Hill.
At the Old Fort Cafe, there were hordes from "another club", though we did manage to spot Vince Leon getting some sneaky miles in, before Dennis Bidenost (also getting some sneaky miles in) arrived for a chat.
The conversation in the bus on the way back to Twickenham was predominantly tyre related, interspersed with forthcoming Italian escapades, shopping, and sleeping.
We arrived back at the Clubroom, jaded, but happy, and looking forward to our next day out.