A short visit to (H)illminster
27/28 September 2003
K1, K2, Dave, JR, Frank, Brian, Mike, Sheila
The accommodation was very pleasant and Minster View did indeed have a good view of the Minster (what is a minster?). The pubs visited en route were mainly restaurants with beer sold as an optional extra, I guess the only way that pubs can survive in these badlands. One pub that had not survived was the Broadbridge Inn that had a prominent sign, but the pub appeared either to have ‘beamed up’ or else sadly converted to a private dwelling. Some good darts were played over a slow-cooking Saturday lunch and it was good to see JR, the man who once cut the handle off his toothbrush to save weight, taking the darts so seriously that he brought his own darts along for the ride. Illminster seemed fine but there is something unfathomably strange about Saturday nights in these towns, with similar vibes generated to nights in Coleford and Ludlow. In one quite reasonable pub, the village idiot, Clive (where was Derek?), suffering from a terminal case of Tourettes, rather than being shunned, ostracised and evicted, was treated as the ‘life and soul’ and genuine all round good bloke. His glass was regularly filled until the warning signs of an imminent chunder saw him escorted into the street to ‘park a tiger’. It would have been no surprise to see him chuck up in the bar and carry on as normal. Strange places!
The Main Event – a 2 day classic road race
How would one describe the terrain of the Blackdown Hills? Well, JR the navigator had plenty of problems due to the complexity of the road system and also some excusable? blunders. JR could also be referred to as the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ – a quick ascent, a short descent, up the wrong hill, down the hill to the river, check the map, up the hill, up a bit more, down the hill avoiding the gravel to the river, check the map, up the right hill, down avoiding the cow pats, up a bit, a steep down to the wrong river puncturing on the gravel (JR and Mike – poor equipment or maintenance?), check the map, up the hill, down to the river, up the hill, down the hill, up, down, steep up, steep down, up, down, up down, up, more up, down, up again….aggghh…you get the idea, flat it ain’t – this is the terrain that we remember so well from days in Dorset. Definitely the piste for the specialist climber. The ‘5 miles sign’ to Lyme Regis looked tempting on Sunday but very fortunately was declined.
The weather was extremely clement – an advantage of September over November.
The Saturday stage comprised 48 miles of seriously hilly terrain.
The Sunday stage comprised 39 miles of even more seriously hilly terrain.
In the author’s opinion the team performed excellently, recording a number of PBs, in this tough road race.
Five jerseys were contested over the two days:
Pink Jersey Best woman cyclist
Hotly contested but eventually clinched by Sheila
Polka Dot Jersey Best climber
Your reporter admits not to being present to monitor any mountaintop finishes and personally witnessed only one victory celebration in this competition when Dave took a poorly contested 6th category climb. However, it is probably safe to assume from observations at the distant rear that this category was taken convincingly by Brian.
White Jersey Most promising young cyclist
Not a particularly strong field for this category. However, Frank has always been the youngest cyclist and hence always wins this jersey except when he is regularly disqualified for not completing the course and going home in the broom wagon. Again the white jersey was not awarded.
Green Jersey Best Sprinter
The second most important category and generally very strongly contested. K2 took the Saturday sprint with a brilliant time trial off the front of the peloton to storm past the Illminster sign – 40 points. Dave took the Sunday sprint with a devastating 10 metre burst of speed to claim 40 points. The jersey was therefore decided on the intermediate sprints, which can basically be anywhere on the route that looks vaguely like an intermediate sprint. In this race there was just one, claimed by Dave for one point.
Final results: Dave – 41 points, K2 – 40 points, everyone else – nil points, and hence the green jersey is awarded to Dave (subject to drug test ratification).
Yellow Jersey Overall winner on time
This is the big one! You can train well, put in storming performances on the rollers, look good on paper and talk the talk. You can lead the peloton for 80% of the stage, you can ride the best bike and wear the trendiest clothes. You can rightly claim that you have regularly waited ages for the weaker cyclists to catch up but…if you don’t get over that finishing line first, you don’t get to wear the jersey! The Saturday stage was taken by K2, gaining a solitary second over the fast-finishing peloton. Dave took the Sunday stage by two seconds following a surprise attack.
Final results: Dave 6 hours 25 mins 33 secs
K2 6 hours 25 mins 34 secs
JR,Brian,K1,Sheila,Mike 6 hours 25 mins 35 secs
Frank no time - dnf
So the man who wears yellow in hope at the rear of the peloton claims the yellow convincingly.
Yellow jersey winner – Dave (advised to ‘do a Rio’ when the drug boys come calling)
See you in May