FOLLOWING the cancellation of last weekend’s Ely and District CC Hardriders’ 25-mile time trial, Witham Wheeler Jim Coleman started his season with the first ever Mersey Tunnel time trial on Sunday.
Nicknamed “10 minutes of hell” and organised by Vita Cycles, the race involved closing the Mersey Tunnel completely to road traffic. The 6.5-km out-and-back course saw riders reaching speeds of 40+ mph on the sweeping descents.
The overall experience was definitely not for the faint hearted with the roar of the disc wheels echoing in the tunnel. Transponders on the bikes ensured accurate timing.
Jim decided to err on the side of caution and kept within reach of his brake levers on both descents, and in doing so possibly gave away some time due to reduced aerodynamics. However he felt strong on the long drags and so was pleased to be the first rider to break the 10-minute barrier.
As the race progressed, with a few top riders towards the back of the field, Jim slipped down the top 10 a little, with the English national time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Team Sky) taking the win in a very impressive 8.28. Jim recorded 9.35 which was good enough for seventh place overall.
l After the cancellation of the two previous Witham Wheelers reliability rides due to the snow, cold but dry conditions greeted the 35 riders who started the 64-mile route on Sunday.
A brisk northerly wind made for a fast start on the rolling roads to Castle Bytham, before the riders headed towards Bourne and then turned back north into the wind to Heckington where some riders stopped at the cafe to refuel ready for the last stretch back to Grantham.
There is a choice of rides this Sunday with the full 63-miles taking in a hilly route through Melton Mowbray to Tilton on the Hill. For the slightly less ambitious there is a less hilly 50-mile route with a cafe stop. First group leaves at 8.45 from Grantham Cricket Club in Gorse Lane. All welcome.
Results (average speed mph): Jacob Doughty 13.8, Joseph Webb 13.8, Mick Dean 14.8, Louise George 14.8, Tony Hardenberg 14.8, Bill Harrison 14.8, Suzanne Holdsworth 14.8, Carol Milne 14.8, Matt Pennifold 14.8, Steve Pullinger 14.8, Peter Watson 14.8, Jon Beere 17.3, James Carter 17.3, Simon Cocker 17.3, John Farmer 17.3, Steve Kidd 17.3, Tony Mendham 17.3, Dave Moulds 17.3, Robert Barrett-Duckett 17.5, Gerry Hyde 17.5, Martyn Ludlam 17.5, Ian Makevit 17.5, Martin Milne 17.5, Ross Tomblin 17.5, Karl Baillie 18.3, Harry Browning 18.6, Peter Cocker 18.8, Chris Sammler 18.9, Paul Conneely 19.5, Chris Carter 19.9, Patrick Cutmore DNF, Mick Egner DNF, Richard Ellingworth DNF, Phil Etches DNF, Trevor White DNF.