The first round of the 2012 WTTA Hardriders championship took place yesterday, in terrible weather conditions. The 24 mile time trial event was run by the Chippenham Wheelers, and their marshals and timekeepers deserve a massive ‘thank you’ for standing around in such bad weather.
The temperatures were barely above freezing, heavy rain which then turned to snow left the roads full of water splashes for the riders to avoid while the dangerous crosswind sections led to riders quitting. Of the 72 entrants, there were only 42 finishers, a couple of whom had had nasty crashes but they made it back to the HQ.
The scenes at the HQ were like something from a film – most of the riders couldn’t speak, let alone get undressed so various helpers, including Ebby Easby, set to work stripping riders and getting them under the hot air blowers in the toilets. The hot drinks which were handed out ended up on the floor in the main with the riders shaking uncontrollably. There were a couple of unfortunate riders who had ridden to the event and had nothing to change into so they had a coats and towels piled over them to try and get them back to normal.
It was definitely an event which will become a bit of a local legend, though presumably this was replicated across the UK at many other races and time trials.
Of the Gillingham riders present, all three started and all three finished, though James Chant and Chris Mullett were in a bit of a state at the end. James was fastest, in 20th place, with a time of 1.06.43. SImon Rouse had been ill most of the week leading up to the event and nearly didn’t ride, but he got home in 26th in 1.08.47. Chris went for the non-aero road bike option because of the conditions and also really suffered in the cold, finishing last in 1.25.47.