Falmouth Wheelers
Saturday March 24 2018 
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      Clare wanted to see the relay events on the track at the Commonwealth Games.  It was only after we had successfully been allocated tickets that we realised that the man himself, “the Bolt” might be running.  By the night before we knew he would be.  The excitement was tangible as we waited in anticipation for the gates of Hampden Park to open.  They did so just as the heavens opened and we scuttled under cover to our seats.  The atmosphere built up in a very Glaswegian way, lots of singing, the crowd in good humour.  The 4 x 100m was announced to a huge “Hampden roar” followed by an even huger one as the members of the Jamaican quartet were announced. And there he was, the man himself, right below us, in position to run the anchor leg.  As the build up music played the Bolt was making some moves. The crowd roared in delight. Then the hush as the runners took their marks.  They were off. In a flash the race had reached us as the English and Jamaican teams were level.  But then the man got the baton and cruised away down the finishing straight. Jamaica gold,  England silver.  The celebrations started as the medal winners moved around the stadium, the Bolt as happy as anyone to have selfies taken, sign autographs and don a tammy. The medals were presented and then the moment we all desperately wanted – the Bolt’s trademark salute. That was worth the price of the ticket in itself.

Next day it was the cycling road races. The women started too early for us to witness a fine victory by Lizzie Armistead.  The men set off on 12 laps of the Glasgow city centre circuit as the rain started. Within three laps the field had been halved as the peleton tried to keep the early solo break of Peter Kennaugh within bounds.  Despite the atrociously wet conditions, with umbrellas being gusted out of hands into the road, the crowds faithfully stayed on the barriers roaring the Manx rider on, as well as the lone stragglers. Opposite us a small impromptu band of Glaswegians started up every time one of the many police motorcyclists came round the corner. The rozzers waved back with a grin.  Each time the riders appeared they looked more and more like coal miners straight from the face – blackened, strained and desperate.  The race became a war of attrition as the field of 140 was whittled down to just a dozen riders who finished the challenging, technical course.  Gold medal to Geraint Thomas (Wales).  He had benefitted after all from that training on Alpe d’Huez with the Wheelers three years ago.  We retreated completely soaked but still buzzing.

 Two days later we were on Shap summit in the Lakes waiting for a lady on a trike.  Jane Moore (who some of the Wheelers will know from riding the Dorset Coast 200km) had left Lands End at dawn the day before. She was attempting to break the End2End women’s trike record.  Since no one had attempted it before there was no record as such, only a benchmark set by the Road Records Association of 4 days 12 hours. Jane came in sight looking pretty wet but determined, followed by the timekeepers’ car. After cheering her on she had a brief stop for food. She had not yet stopped for sleep. A slight crisis had developed since the second support car had broken down near Exeter and was now playing catch-up. The timekeeping team were due to hand over to their northern colleagues for the rest of the ride. The relief team were waiting to be picked up at Carlisle station.  How to get them to Penrith to do the changeover? Everyone was a bit too weary to work out a solution. The Wheelers came to the rescue and brought them back.  The attempt was still on. Jane reached John o’Groats in 3 days 16 hours 45.12 minutes. A new record.  Not bad for a 47 year old.  Inspiring no less.  It’s there for the beating, ladies!

The next few days we spent relaxing in our walking boots, finding some delightful local walks and finishing off with an ascent of the Old Man of Coniston, and Dow Crags.  Isn’t that Scafell Pike, I said? Clare was already away, heading off down the mountain for a cup of tea.


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