I wanted to be the first to arrive and the last to depart at Cyclopark for I like to see the full picture on how the day's event will transpire. Although I was driving at maximum speed, I feel I was still crawling along M25 (motorway encircling London). It was my first time driving along M25 when I did not take a wrong turn or wrong exit. I was relieved I arrived not too late.
|Go go go Zoomzoom - photo courtesy Michael Fouracre|
As I pulled into the car park, I saw riders on their Brompton arriving. They went to the town earlier and had pancakes, which I was told, was the size of my face, and now they are just arriving back. They are well fueled, ready and eager to race. I should have come earlier. Missing that pancake is my day's only regret.
Hurriedly, I unfolded Zoomzoom to meet fellow riders. I was surprised that there are already many Bromptoneers around, in wonderful attire and all wearing a big smile. I said "Hi" and Hello" to many riders who I have not met before, kisses and hugs to most familiar faces and a verbal threat that I will win this race to many of the strong win contenders.
|Win contenders - Photo courtesy Michael Fouracre|
But my greatest surprise was not seeing most of the London Brompton Club (LBC) admin. Yes the people who approves your (facebook) membership to the club. Yes the very people who cares most about the club. The Superstars. However I was overjoyed when I saw and shook the hands of the legendary Bumble Bee. He is a founding member of LBC and his appearance alone confirms his unquestionable support and care for this brand new event.
|Club Founder Bumble Bee and Bromprix brainchild Steve Chopper|
Our Hi's and Hello's were getting louder. Our curiosity to anyone's and everyone's Brompton setting and personalization became more intense. We were comparing everything from handle bars, bags, spokes and inner tube cap. We were like 2 year olds. Show me yours, I'll show you mine.
Steve announced registration open. I jumped to secure the "No 1" race number/label. I got to be number one. However another rider told me that he is more deserving of the No 1 race number. I reluctantly gave it away. Sad I was not, for I randomly got the No 69. Easy number to remember.
|A lucky number. Easy to remember, said Steve. Don't know why.|
After a short thank you from the Cyclopark management and a quick safety briefing from the ambulance officers we all soon found ourselves ready to run to our folded Brompton neatly positioned at the the start line. It is a Le Mans start style race.
But first we had to do the costume parade. This is equivalent to warm up lap, although we were more interested to make sure that our attire is not caught on the wheels.
|Strictly no Lycra allowed. Costume parade, warm up lap. Photo owned by Michael Fouracre|
Run... I did and unfolded the bike. I practiced this million times but still I was left behind. I saw half of the competitors gone before I finally pushed the pedal. The guys in black and pink shocks were in front, powering ahead. I wasn't worried. I knew there are 8 laps and they will soon get tired. After all, I bromptoned London to Cambridge and cycle the Surrey Hills a few weeks prior so I know I have the strength and speed.
|On your mark. Ready. Get set. Go ( Photo courtesy Michael Fouracre)|
There are only 4 riders that could snatch my victory. And two of the four, I have already disregarded. James Houston has been assigned as tail end marker, so he could never be the first to cross the finish line. Steve Chooper is the checked flag waver/bearer. I only have Jenny Hung and Graham Parks to really worry about.
I have cycled with Jenny many times. I know she is strong and glides effortlessly up the hills but she is not terribly fast. And I was a little encouraged when I saw earlier that she will be racing without her front bag. I always suspected that, that 23 stone looking front bag houses the battery. But what really worried me was she was wearing her famous high heal shoes. That is a lethal weapon. She always win the race when she is wearing that.
|No 15 - Fai, / No 5 Jenny / No25 Graham ( Photo owned by Michael Fouracre)|
For as long as the clouds hover above us, I'm fine with Graham. He is no threat. But if the sun shines brightly, my victory will be doomed for sure. It is because Graham has this gorgeous blond hair and when the sun shines on it, the sun rays bounce back and I get mesmerized and dazzled by the reflection. No way I could pass him in that instance.
The first corner is a very tight corner. I hesitantly have to engage my brake, otherwise I will crash over the fence landing right in the middle of A2 ( major highway) beside the Cyclopark. Once I negotiated the corner it is a nice downhill to the next wider corner. Easy. No, not really. Because as I came down the track, a gale force wind seemingly from the hurricane Irma is pushing me back up. It is more difficult to descent that to climb up.
It felt forever to complete the first lap. Now 7 more to go. Now, Jenny is within sight. Up the hill, I knew I could pass her. I did pass her but that was after I silently recited the lords prayer 10 times. My next aim was to be within sight of the front peloton. Time to chase the men in black.
|The men in black. Fai and Darren|
Zoom zoom I pedaled furiously, surely the men in black are just around the next bend. Sure it was. But they were not in front of me. They were behind me. They were overtaking me. Noooo. Still full of hope, I said to my self, there is still time. They will tire and weaken, they will miss a gear shift and I will overtake them. Then I heard people cheering go go go Zoom zoom. It was Jenny and Graham from behind over taking me. I never saw them again until the finish line.
The men in black overtook me few more times. But on my fifth lap I caught up with them as they were chatting away. I said to them, I gonna win this. They said go go go. Go for it. They were 5 meters behind me as I approached the finish line. But the checkered flag was waved behind me which is in front of them as I needed 3 more laps to complete the race. On my final lap I heard everyone shouting Allez allez, go go go Zoom zoom.
The Bromprix time trial event soon followed. A very hotly contested competition. First to go was Steve, then we had 1 minute interval each between start time. We cycled as fast as we could. It was so much fun. The time trial was won by Hannah.
|The battle for the time trial. The young and the young once.|
What a fantastic day ! It felt like my last BWC in 2014 in Goodwood, where the atmosphere is more family affair, seriously fun race, no ballots, nothing commercial and uncomplicated procedures and restrictions.
|The well earned badge.|
Well done and thank you Steve Chopper. You are the brain ( and I might as well add, body and soul ) behind this event. I don't know how you did it. The effort and time you put into it is remarkable.
And thank you to everyone for coming. And thanks also to those who took an effort to bring their family along. It is nice to see that this event is all inclusive for the young and the young once.
|Hannah, Time trial winner. Photo Courtesy Michael Fouracre|
As I walked to my car and folded up my Brompton ready to go home, I can't help but look back to compare and analyze why Fai Leung won the race. We both have similar physique, same height, same weight and same size. Yes, leg muscles size. I noticed that he also has shaved legs. I can not think of any other factor why he won over me.
It can only come down to and god knows, what else he shaved. And that is his marginal advantage.
See you all at British Bromprix 2018.
Special thanks to Michael Fouracre for capturing perfectly the moments.
|We are the champions. We are the champions.|
|Natalie - the woman in tie dress. Looking fabulous. And Geoff with a gorgeous smile.|