Wightlink-LCM Systems Cycle Race Team rider Jack Elton-Walters lined up with 16,500 other cyclists for the inaugural Ride London-Surrey 100 mile mass participation sportive on Sunday.
The day got off to a great start before any cycling even happened when Elton-Walters met cycling’s top pundit Ned Boulting. The riders were set off in waves of 600 riders at a time, but the field soon thinned out when those on super-expensive bikes began to lag, shocked to find it takes more that a £10,000 to be Bradley Wiggins.
Raising money for the Marine Conservation Society – a cause of great importance to the Isle of Wight – Elton-Walters completed the ride as the second half of a charitable challenge that the week before saw a successful entry in the London Triathlon.
Under sunny intervals and with a light to moderate breeze, the thousands of cyclists rolled out through suburbia and on in to Surrey. Working with other cyclists and often leading large groups, Elton-Walters settled into a good rhythm. Coming upon the three main climbs of the day – Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill – he stretched his legs and streamed past the field as they struggled up these famous bumps in the Surrey countryside.
Once over Box Hill, it was a fast run-in back to London, with the route lined by enthusiastic and encouraging crowds, giving an indication that this event could well become cycling’s version of the London Marathon, as hoped by the organisers.
Elsewhere, three other Wightlink-LCM Systems Cycle Race Team members travelled to Castle Combe near Bristol. Kev Foster competed in the 3rd category race, which was 17 laps of the 1.8 mile track. This race started 2 minutes in front of the elite race, in which Sam Baker and James Ebdon lined up.
During the first lap the clouds turned from white to grey and the rain soon started falling on the track. In Foster’s race, all of the breakaway attempts looked like they would be unsuccessful so Foster stayed within the peloton and waited for the sprint finish. Coming up to the final straight, there was a stiff headwind and Foster was forced to start his sprint early. Holding his speed well, he finished within the front of the bunch but couldn’t quite hold on for a top 10, crossing the line in 12th place.
In the Elite race the pace was fast from the gun, with the bunch averaging 28mph for the 32 mile race. Riders were being dropped from the back of the bunch on every lap, luckily Baker and Ebdon avoided this on several occasions. The pair’s tactics were to work for Baker and get him to the sprint finish. Coming into the last lap Ebdon towed Baker to the front of the bunch and got him in a good position to use his powerful sprint finish. With 100m to go, Baker got boxed in by several other riders and couldn’t get back past them. He finished in 18th place with Ebdon finishing within the bunch.