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Long distance challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:10 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:13 02 July 2010

Don Saunders

To prove that cyclists are a hardy breed, all planned events went ahead in conditions that included snow, sleet and rain. The weekend started with the Old Squit 200km and the Norfolk Mardle 100km audax rides, starting and finishing at the John Innes Institute in Norwich.

To prove that cyclists are a hardy breed, all planned events went ahead in conditions that included snow, sleet and rain.

The weekend started with the Old Squit 200km and the Norfolk Mardle 100km audax rides, starting and finishing at the John Innes Institute in Norwich. Both events covered the same first 100 kilometres, visiting Loddon, Long Stratton, Attleborough and Wymondham before returning to base. The afternoon ride covered minor roads in west and north Norfolk.

A total of 94 riders started both events and with only 13 non-finishers an emergency trip had to be made to the local supermarket to make sure everyone was fed and watered by the catering crew manned by members of Norwich Cyclist Touring Club.

Whereas Saturday's event had started with overcast skies and icy roads the riders facing the timekeeper in the Ely and District Cycling Club Hardriders 25 mile time trial were bathed in winter sunshine. Although ice was not a danger a winter of sub-zero temperatures had left the course strewn with potholes that would easily swallow up narrow racing wheels and tyres. Fortunately the promoting club sent members out on the course to warn riders of the deepest and most dangerous, which the riders appreciated as they raced along the A10 and the B1411 alongside the 100 foot drain.

Dan Staite, Cycles Dauphin RT, showed no rustiness after a long winter and set the standard with a 57:14 ride. Scratch man Sam Barker, Planet X RT, starting 40 minutes later, hoped he would repeat his recent wins in his season opener but as he passed the finish timekeepers he was over a minute slower with 58:33. There were only three riders inside the magic hour mark.

King's Lynn CC had six riders entered but had to give best to the St Ives CC in the team competition, with strong rides from Gary Rushmore 1-03:04, Martin Long 1-04:09 and Jason Nixon 1-06:40.

Chris Nudds, CC Breckland, was delighted with his 1-03:48 which gave him the second veteran award, and bodes well for the forthcoming season in which he aims to make his debut at 100 mile time trialling in the national championship, to be hosted at Attleborough on July 11.

While the racing action was taking place in the Fens, 22 riders who considered they were a little behind with their training were tackling the East Anglian Cycling Club 75 mile reliability trial. Paul Lynch of the promoting club set off on his own at 8.30am, followed by two groups at half-hour intervals.

The first rider back in Norwich, after visiting Roughton, Felbrigg, Guist, Dereham and Watton, was Peter Rowe, Finchley RT, who finished six minutes ahead of group of riders, including Neil Vaughan, David Staff and Alan Stevenson.

The ride of the day came from Joe Skipper who biked to the start adjacent to Norwich Airport from his home at Lowestoft. He then rode the full 75 mile course before returning home on two wheels, having covered in excess of 135 miles.

The Active Norfolk and City College Norwich-promoted Watt Bike Race Series is of course not reliant on the weather, as the competitors race on stationary bikes linked to a computer that projects a huge image on a wall showing the progress of riders as they compete each other. Current rankings put Helen Oliver first in the women's race series, while Andrew Knowles holds that position in the 6pm men's race series and Robert Hemstrom leads the 8pm men's race series. With two more sessions at the Riverside Leisure Centre left in the series an exciting culmination is guaranteed to this new event.

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