The mystery start point (which was a great idea btw) was the amphitheater at Temple Quay, a perfect spot with plenty of room for riders & a Le Mans style start. After a race breifing Dave set the riders off around 7pm, and then the race was on, after a mad dash I got on board my bike & headed towards the A4, straight away I found my first shortcut of the night by cutting the first corner, and red lights by hitting up the pavement, this put me out in front of the pack within the first minute of the race, thankyou very much.
The riders streamed out of Temple Quay & in no time I was being followed by 35 determined fixed gear shredders.
The incline out of Temple Meads is a horrible drag but I managed to put the power down & stay towards the front of the bunch. I managed to stay at the front for most of the stretch leading up to the notorious Burger king junction (a make or break part of the course within the first 2 miles) for some reason at this point I decided it would be fun to ride no handed, something I’m sure Ed would have done in the same situation. We headed towards the lights, which at the time had started turning red, but this was time for me to take a shortcut that I had planned months ago, the plan was to take the junction & following hill on the pavement to avoid all cars & risk of danger. I got a clear run, and managed to get up onto he pavement, bypassed the entire junction & made my way up the first real hill on the pavement, my plan had worked & I was at the top of the climb still in front of the pack, I was stoked right now.
The next section takes on the descent & ascent of Brislington Hill, I smashed into the downhill at god knows what speed but could see LED lights closing in on me from behind. Brislington Hill is not the most fun climb on any given day, but in race mode even on 93 gear inches it really isn’t that bad. By the time I had reached the top & was heading out past Halfords etc I got caught by a number of riders, with only a few miles of the 24 down this wasn’t such a bad thing as I knew I would have to work with other riders to be in with a chance of placing anyway. A group of 7 or 8 of us rode the next stretch past the Park & Ride at a decent pace, at one point I got dropped but a big shout out to Jez Ash who actually willingly towed me back to the group, I thought this was my race over already.
We raced in a group most of the way to Bath from here onwards, each taking our turns on the front (big work from James Cuff & Andy Timpson here), we descended Saltford Hill & were out in the wilderness & onto the dual carriageway. This is were Timpo & Steve C made a break for it & left the rest of us behind. Riding into Bath I gave it some serious effort to catch up but I ended up riding solo & playing chase to no avail from Newbridge to the checkpoint at Queen’s Square. I landed at the checkpoint 3rd & was greeted by Bad Boy Toby & his collection of marker pens. Timpo was the first man in & out of the Square, I turned out to be second rider out as Steve stopped due to a disastrous puncture.
The return leg started for me with another solo smash from Queen’s Square to Newbridge, chasing Timpo but never being able to catch. I got caught by the other 5 riders in the break as I headed towards Newbridge, we then eventually caught Timpo who had put in a solid effort to keep us away, his legs must have been feeling it by now.
We kept the pace up through the next section, with Rob Borek even taking a wrong turning at the dual carriageway roundabout (!) but he caught back on soon after. We made it to Saltford Hill, this is where the race can be won or lost by the seems of it, I hate this hill, and despite having my race head on I still couldn’t get to grips with it. I lead into the hill but was 3rd wheel by the time I had got to the top. No time to dwell, I had a race to try & win.
Riding Saltford High Street towards the next dual carriageway was a game of riding the wheel to avoid the strong headwind & trying to preserve the energy ready for the home straight. I made a cheeky break at one point, but it was less of an attempt at victory & more like an attempt at trying to emulate a rider that gets paid to tire their competitors out. I felt like a pro for a few seconds, and then I dawned on me that I wasn’t.
Upcoming was the Park & Ride drag, another mellow hill, the kind I hate more than the steep ones (Strava tells me I put in my PB time this time). At this point I couldn’t believe I was riding in the top 5 of a race I had been waiting for all year. And then the realisation hit me that the other 4 riders had left me behind & I only had a few miles to close a 50 yard gap. Brislington Hill was the place I managed to make ground, by utilising car dodging skills learnt from race training video Premium Rush I managed to avoid vehicles from all directions, and probably had some of the scariest moments of my life all within the space of 30 seconds. I continued to chase up the Brislington climb and managed to catch by riding the opposite side of the road most of the way up. My legs had had it & I would be running on pure adrenalin for the remaining miles.
The descent towards Burger King & into the ‘Paintworks‘ straight was fast, and I was worried at this point, cars were everywhere, my legs were gone & I was racing against some super fast riders who weren’t going to give up – Timpo, Jez, Rob & Ryan. I think at the point of The 3 Lamps junction I was out in front with Timpo, he got past me & tried to overtake a bus, a driver had other ideas & tried to crush him using their car. Nice one idiot. We pushed on & were still out in front, but then got cut up by a BMW, Timpo got caught out more than me so this was my time to gain some ground on him. At this point Ryan flew past us both & it was time to give everything to keep up & try & maintain the second place I had. The final corner was followed by a sprint finish up hill & a super close crossing of the line.
1 hour & 4 minutes after setting off I had actually finished, and in second place. Happy probably is an understatement. I had all the pressure of the Hamilton Wheelers on my shoulders & I had what I consider to be the perfect race. Ok I didn’t win, but coming second by a bike length after 24 miles was more than enough for me!
I’d like to say a massive well done to every rider that rode on Saturday, it was a cold & windy night, I know for some of you it was the first time doing something like that, and everybody put in really good times, special mention to Lucy Walker, who this year has won the Tunnel Sprints, Hell Climb, Fixed n Chips & now Hacksaws Challenge! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I cannot wait to do it all again next year. And thanks once again to Dave who made it all happen & Mike for the incredible photos shot on the night.