Southend Wheelers’ Paul Hart was the
class of a 53-strong field in the annual early season time trial in West
Essex (4 March)
With the slushy remnants of the ‘Beast of the East’ lingering in the
lanes, hedgerows and fields around the course, the competitors were
faced with a number of difficult decisions, from which bike to ride
(normal road bike or full, aerodynamic Time Trial machine) to what
clothing to wear.
An unexpected rise in the temperatures - to a positively balmy nine-degrees - meant that fortune favoured the brave.
By virtue of finishing as runner-up in last year’s corresponding fixture, Hart was the last rider away from the start line. The 38-year old company director of Wickford based Lemon Groundwork Solutions quickly found his rhythm and it soon became evident that, barring incidents, he was onto a flyer.
Crossing the finishing line, Paul set a new course record of 1 hour, 6 minutes and 29 seconds - beating his 2017 time of 1.07.16 and Rhys Howells’ 2016 record by 30 seconds.
On this occasion, Hart’s nearest challenger Richard Price (London Phoenix) was almost two minutes down on the Southend Wheelers’ star’s time.
“I have had a very good winter, in terms of training, and had my eye on the record before the start,” said the delighted Hart after his victory, “I knew an average of 26mph was required, and was at 26.6 at halfway, so knew it was on.”
He added: “It’s only the first race of the season, so can’t get carried away, but it’s a nice confidence builder for the rest of the year. The national championships in the summer remain the big target.”
In the Veteran category, the Wheelers’ Peter Stiff laid down a marker for his TT season with a creditable time of 1.23.39, putting him 18th in class and 28th overall.
Jamie Maidment, opting to ride a cyclocross bike fitted with un-treaded, ‘slick’ tyres came home in 40th place overall. He said afterwards: “Because the rims are wide I could run really low pressures, I didn’t know how the roads would be today so took a gamble on my kit.”
|It's not about the bike.......|