18 Feb 2018 – Kingston Wheelers ‘14’ and out of the chill blur of early morning on Hungry Hill emerges the familiar figure of a grizzled veteran on an antique machine, snorts of steam issuing from the nostrils, handlebars vibrating to the potholes. Fortunately the course is free of ice this year, but the customary oceans of lying water send muddy spatters over the livery of a once-proud cycle club. For yes! two Redmon riders keep the colours flying: Sean Taylor and your own correspondent [59th out of 63].
25 Feb – Redhill C.C. ‘18’ and out of the chill clarity of early morning on Westcott Hill emerges the familiar… Your correspondent, grinding his way up Coast Hill, is passed by his minute-man just short of the summit; a severe blow to one’s self-esteem so early in proceedings. Most of the ice has melted on the sheltered parts of the course and for once it is a fair morning with the dazzle of a low Winter sun blinding the riders as they plunge down the rocky descent from Holmbury St Mary. On the return leg from Ockley a lone figure wheeling a punctured machine is seen in the distance (should a Good Samaritan stop and disburse spare tubes, tyre levers and pump? or perhaps the unfortunate is on foolish tubs? Or maybe… ) but alas it is too late, sweep on regardless, thoughts of sauve qui peut, and diel tak the hindmost jostling with shameful (but someone surely will pick him up) twinges of guilt. [37th out of 42]
11 March – East Surrey R.C.‘30’ and out of the chill… but stop: not so chill this time, and despite some seriously scarey potholes which have appeared in the fast bit of the A25 the course is generally no worse than previously. But inexplicably that nasty little climb short of Rusper has somehow been made just that bit steeper this time and why is there always a photographer lurking at the precise moment of maximum fatigue? With a mere mile and a half to go yours truly hits a cunningly disguised pothole and the chain comes off. It’s reassuring to note that no good Samaritans are available. [19th of 22, on road bikes]
17 March – Southern Counties ‘10’ which, falling on St Patrick’s day, is honoured with appropriately Irish weather. Sheets of water out of the sky, sheets of water on the road and a biting North-East wind. In defiance of this, and of the reckless 4x4s needing all of the crown of the road and of the ever-deeper gravelly furrows on the drop after the ‘Punchbowl’ the course is covered without injury. [18th of 22]
18th March – Southern Counties ‘25’ cancelled because of meteorological armageddon. (and Robin Johnson never cancels!) Grizzled vet much relieved.
30 March – Crawley Wheelers ‘42’. This is a lumpy old course which never seems to get any shorter. Nor does the bit on that Eastwards loop round Henfield resemble anything other than a corrugated iron roof. Good Friday traffic causes a couple of holdups (in fact rather welcome in the circumstances) but a rare fit of daydreaming means missing one of the turns, though only for some 15 yards; at least the marshal is awake. Correspondent is awarded a T-shirt for something – being very old? [52nd of 60]
31 March – Brighton Mitre ‘10’ is a course of three parts: the first simply requires that the rider stays on board over all the chasms and dragons’ teeth, the second is the ‘mustn’t-get-off-and-walk’ Fox Hill and finally the long downhill ‘could-use-another-gear’ sweep to the finish. Some slight form of satisfaction might be derived from this little ride were it not for the legs being in shreds from the previous day. The scheduled suicidal plunge off Devil’s Dyke on Easter Monday was considered a piece of masochism too far. [25th of 31]
So out of this miniature saga the inevitable question bobs to the surface like a rotting corpse (hey, steady on there) in the cold stagnant lake waters of one of those TV Scandi thrillers: namely, where were all the other Redmon riders?
(This article was first published in the April 2018 Redmon Quarterly Newletter.)