June 29, 2012

Team Dave Rider Doc Haynes (aka Brad) takes Manners Cup Win and Conquers The Dragon...Single Handedly..!!

Sunday 10th June 2012

Doc (aka Bradley) Conquers the Dragon Single-Handedly 
Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins rides a paltry 124 Km with the support of seven professional cyclist to win the Criterium du Dauphine. Meanwhile Team Dave’s Brad / Doc Haynes rides 206 Km ( approx.- see later ) solo in the hills of South Wales in the dragon ride. Riding solo due to Team Dave’s late entry to the cycling world ( never seemed an option for Pelo , Everest , and Slipstream when bookings opened in December last year) , and the enforced absence of Sky Velo’s Chris ( little brother ) Haynes due a mysterious Respiratory complaint, Brad took up the mantle of Team Dave’s only entry in the event , though rode undercover for Banbury Star to keep Dave’s powder dry for next year …)

With fine weather in the Alps and only three categorised climbs; but constant drizzle and showers in Wales on the 8 categorised climbs it’s not hard to judge that Wiggins had the easier , and shorter day.
And with two stings in the tail (one unknown) it was Team Dave’s Haynes who’s legs were probably heavier on Monday morning, and he had to wash his own kit afterwards.

The Dragon is a Serious Climbing Route....!!
Fresh from Time Trial success in the Manners Handicap, Haynes hoped to find his climbing legs for the Dragon Ride, but he has only the one pair of legs, and only one set of wheels so Saturday’s preparation involved moving the wheels from racehorse Dura Ace Pinarello, to workhorse Trek, and switching the rear 12-25 cassette to a more appropriate 12-28 for the coming climbs (note for next year , get an even bigger rear cog !)

To give maximal rest Saturday night, and avoid an early drive Sunday morning, a room had been booked on Swansea waterfront in the Premier Inn (probably the only time Premier will be used in this blog). Avoiding the ‘attractions’ of a Saturday evening in Swansea City Centre, Haynes was ensconced in his room with a large pasta meal, energy drinks, and the excitement of Germany’s 1-0 win over Portugal on the 14 inch Samsung in the room.

An early six am rise on Sunday for the short drive to the start in Port Talbot had been made worse by revellers returning from Swansea’s aforementioned City Centre at 1.40 am , 2,50 am and possibly the last at 05.40 am , or was that the first cyclist rising and gently waking the gleaming carbon bike which had shared his room / bed ?.

At the start Haynes managed to meet four Banbury Star aquaintances and they agreed to start out as a group. After the peloton split at 32 miles it was everyman for himself.

Bryn Melyn/Devils Elbow (Video below)!
Max % 20 (33% on inside of hairpin bends)

Average % 10

Distance 1.5km/0.93m

Unlike last years Dragon Ride which seemed to have a gentle opening 40 miles , this 2012 route opened with two thigh busting climbs Bryn and Cymla before moving on to the Black Mountain climb, 3.4 miles at 6% average with great scenery. On then to a long open section in the Black Mountains with incessant climbs and descents in constant drizzle and easterly gusts eating into the confidence of the riders , and a long 42 miles between feed stations.

At the second stop at 72 miles there was a long queue for the mandatory banana, fruitcake and two full bottles of energy drink (or was it dilute Barley water ?) At least they knew they were over half 
way. Various named climbs passed , Cray, Defynnog, and the Bryn Melyn / Devils Elbow , only 1 mile , but 10% average , 20% max ( 33% on inside or hairpin bends helpfully noted on route guide ). Stopping to take a photo of the long line of riders following up this climb proved foolish as remounting on the slope proved impossible, and a short walk to the next hairpin followed ( c.f. Mow Cop ).

A long descent followed to the known sting in the tail, Rhigos 3.6 miles at 5.7% average and Bwlch 3.75 miles at 6.1% average with a short exposed feed station at the top of Rhigos (Banana , fruitcake and England now 106-3). With lines of decimated riders along the route Haynes found the legs to climb well, hanging on the wheel on anyone foolish enough to be going just the right speed in front of him, and then jumping where possible to the next wheel.

Doc looking forwar dto his cup of Horlix as he approaches the Finish Line
The climbs completed it just remained for the 15 mile fast ( fastish for Haynes ) descent to sea level at Port Talbot, made more tricky by light rain , numb hands , and a stiff neck which prevented him lifting the head enough to see more than 50 yards ahead ! A final roll along the flat last few miles , and a look at the speedo to show the advertised 128 miles had gone by ; he was surprised to look up and see a large yellow banner ‘ 5Km to go ‘ , surely not ! Another sting in the tail! And when one of those Km seemed to have a mild uphill gradient thoughts turned to taking the right turn onto the M4 and just heading for home instead of the left to Margam Park and the finish line. Holding the wheels of two kindly gents (don’t think they knew he was there) got him to the final 1km , where the time trialling skills finally kicked in with a sprint to the line for a finishing time of 9 hr 41 mins; three times that of Wiggins the same afternoon, but then Wiggins didn’t have to queue for his Bananas and fill his own waterbottles !

A long tiring ride for Team Dave’s longest ride of the year so far ( even eclipsing Everst Hall’s 100 mile Cheshire Cat plus detour !) , and one never to be repeated . Thoughts turn to the Alps in 2013 , and how to dream up an excuse to get a lift up those hills ( do the ski lifts run in the summer ?.....)

Doc Haynes Takes Manners Cup Win!!