Welwyn Wheelers Hilly 50k – 14 April 2017

Reporter: Nick Senechal
Photographs: Courtesy Davey Jones

Every year on Good Friday, Nomads have the opportunity to show what they are made of briefly on passing through the Club’s home town.  You always look pretty good zipping into Hitchin on the fast Codicote Road and then swooping down the Priory Bypass road before existing the town via Willow Lane.  This is a blessing because a lot of the course before and after its brief dalliance with Hitchin does not lend itself to a calm unruffled demeanour.  This year, as last, we had six Nomads entered, but owing to unforeseen circumstances only four were to make it to the start.  Bright yet cool weather reflected conditions very similar to 2016: a steady wind from the west at about 20kmh did little to trouble riders except on the A505 drag out of Hitchin, extracting the punch from legs before the challenging climb to Great Offley. A set of temporary traffic lights on the approach to Hitchin had threatened to interfere with the test but they magically disappeared the day before the event.

Looking back over time Nomads have been consistently improving in this race.  With last year’s winning time (01:11:16 by Joe Fry) and this year’s (01:11:17 by Ashley Cox) being practically the same and the similar weather conditions we have a good basis for comparing times.   They show some strong improvements.  Leading the team home, Julian Pegg (on a road bike) improved his time by one second shy of 5 minutes; Nick Senechal managed to shave 7 minutes 22 from his time, but maximum credit to Catherine Jones who took a cool 8 minutes 56 from her 2016 time to finish in 1:39:23.  Nick Hickman was about a minute off last year’s time at 1:32:01,  but this is perhaps explained by high mileage training for the National 24hr TT later this year.

Part of the improvement in form must be due to the fantastic support from Nomads, Junior Nomads, and Cow Bells around the course.  I sense we are getting close to a real breakthrough in this event, perhaps in the team competition.  We’ve already won the “best club spirit” award in my estimation!