ERC 2021 Midweek TT Series - Week 15 - Race Report, nee, Wedding Report

9 September 2021

So our penultimate week. I will provide an account of last week too – an account that, of course, will be heavily weighted towards the wedding I attended in Poland. Like, c’mon, what else would you expect!

Now that I’ve mentioned it I might as well give it some air time. It was a trophy week after all. Week 14 was the final 10M TT of the year and the McCulloch Trophy Night. The trophy is awarded to the fastest ERC rider. Historically we’ve given it to Alan Dean and then let him keep it for a few years - to save the faff of him handing it back, to give it straight back to him. However there has been a changing of the guard. I now suspect this will apply to Ciaran McSherry. Ciaran ‘if it can be won, I shall win it’ McSherry! The McSherry house will soon be taking down family photos, rearranging DVD’s, disposing of house plants – just to make room for all of Ciaran’s trophies. I can only imagine the amount of trips to Ikea they’ve had to do.

I suppose that was a spoiler in case you missed last week’s results. Ciaran was the winner in a time of 20:24, beating Sandy Waller by over 1 minute. Sandy was 2nd in 21:33 and Oliver Teenan 3rd in 22:29. Sarah Scott was the fastest female in a time of 25:32. Barry McColl the fastest road bike in 24:05. And glancing at the results, the fastest whipper snapper was Rhys Edwards in 23:57. Last week was also not without controversy. Apparently there was a, how do I phrase this, “disagreement” with a driver. I go away for one night and Ronnie bloody Pickering shows up. If you didn’t get that reference, see here, but be aware, there are some naughty words used. Skip to about 1min 40s.

Next bit of chat before we get onto the important stuff. The important stuff being #compulsorypolishweddingchat and last nights race. The TT Series Party – I’ve postponed it. The club had stuck down a deposit to secure the date and venue but we didn’t have sufficient numbers of people (there was a "clash" too). So I took the decision to cancel it, I’d rather host the party properly than half-heartedly with 20 people. The new date I am looking at is the 15th October. I have contacted more venues so we’ll see & I’ll keep you all posted. But PLEASE if you either can, cannot, or don’t want to come, let me know. I definitely am making sure this goes ahead at some point! Active Root, Power Press Coffee & Nopinz have sent me free stuff for prizes, plus we have the signed jerseys. Hence why I want to do this properly with 40-50 people rather than 20. I'm also very open to waiting a smidge longer and holding it in November - nothing ever happens in November. Well, I suppose Guy Fawkes would disagree.

#Compulsorypolishweddingchat. Ah where to start. So when you were all racing last week I was on a flight to Krakow. Hannah and I had a couple of days eating, drinking and wandering our way around the very pretty Polish city, before heading west to a less pretty town, Bytom, where the wedding ceremony was being held. The ceremony itself was not too dissimilar from your UK church wedding, except it was all in Polish. Half the congregation had no idea what the Priest was saying. The English speaking/groom side had to glance to the Polish/bride side of the congregation to check when we had to sit, stand, bow, clap etc. As true UK natives, we tended to just sit quietly, smile and nod at what seemed like appropriate points in the sermon. Once married and the bride & groom, Paula & Stefan (Stefan is one of my oldest friends) went outside for the customary confetti drowning we encountered another Polish wedding quirk. Where we, the UK side, were used to chucking dried flowers or confetti at the bride and groom – at Polish weddings you hurl coins at them! Not chocolate M&S coins you hang on your Christmas tree - actual coins. I’m not sure if this is to offer them good luck and fortune or to see if you can give the groom a black eye. Either way, in the spirit of being the penny-pinching accountant that I am reputed to be, it was my job to literally penny pinch and pick all the coins up. My waistcoat weighed a tonne but it made paying for a coffee after the ceremony much easier.

After the ceremony we had an hour or so drive into the mountain region of Silesia and to a town with no vowels in it’s name. I realised trying to pronounce the name of the town was much easier if you just sneezed instead. Said name is (I genuinely had to google it to make sure I got the C’s and Z’s in the right place), Szczyrk. Now this is where the fun began. The reception began at 5pm. We had four, yes four, meals, yes, meals – not courses, to work through that night. As well as a fully stocked cold and dessert buffet. Now I like a free meal but four plus two buffets was pushing it. Alongside the continuous flow of food (that finished at 2am) there was, of course, free-flowing vodka. It was my duty as a groomsman to ensure everyone on my table had their glass topped up – a job I think I did diligently, since our table of 12 got through at least 4 litres of vodka that night. Thankfully, I gave my speech well before the vodka was flowing. The speech itself went well even if the simultaneous translation into Polish threw me a little – & I’m not sure the Polish audience got the Ant & Dec reference.

The party properly started after 10, usually, to us, the "start" is symbolised when the DJ kicks in. But over there it was when they wheeled out a Polish Mountain Folk Band Front Man Paddy McGuinness to warm the crowd up and ceremonially sing in the arrival of a hog roast. A couple of hours later I was nominated to represent the UK in the musical chair competition, which I duly won. I am unlikely to ever win a TT but I’m now (self) crowned the Inter Polish-UK Musical Chair Champion of Silesia 2021. I actually had a successful weekend since I won the Ronde CC Vuelta fantasy league to go alongside my win at the Tour de France. The only chance I’ll ever have a Tour-Vuelta double to my name. After the final meal at 2am the party continued for a bit longer until around 3.30 there was a handful of us left. The groom had now reached the point of drunkardness where he was simultaneously dancing and falling asleep. I went up to my room around 3.45am and in true Dan style, then read my book on the history of The East India Company until nodding off at about 4am. Bear in mind we had to be up again for a covid test and breakfast at 9am. If you’re wondering where my very heavy legs last night came from – you can trace it back to there. On Sunday, my Garmin watch gave me a ‘freshness’ score, out of 100, of 5…..

So to last night, not sure about you, but I genuinely raced like a meme last night. My Week 13 race report included a Drake meme referencing blasting off the line and blowing up. That was me. 90 seconds in, I was feeling rough and the rest of the race was a proper slog. But checking my power file afterwards - maybe doing 480 watts for first minute was not the best pacing strategy, and thus I could trace my heavy legs to both that and the vodka.

We had 24 riders race last night. First off was Kasey Park who finished in 10:11. I’m not sure if Kasey is glad the hill climbs are done with but I have a feeling her Dad, James, is. Of the other youngsters last night there was Alasdair Easton who finished 11th overall In 07:33 and Theo Cunningham – who I think only raced up the Yak once this time. Theo snuck into the top 10-finishing 9th in 07:28.

The fastest Female was a Sarah last night. Scott or Emslie. Fiona McDonnell wasn’t there to go for the hat-trick. Sarah Emslie was 21st in 09:09 but Sarah Scott was the fastest on the night, finishing 20th in 08:40.

This would be usually where I talk about road bikers. But all you sensible folk rode on road bikes last night. Except one. That one, again, was I. I may get that dunce hat actually mocked up. Saying that it does mean I’ve won the TT bike category twice in a row. I finished in a meh 07:02 & 5th overall.

Everyone in the top 15 went under 8 minutes with the top 4 going sub 7 minutes. Adam Brennan and Frank Landay were tied for 15th in 07:48. Chris Howie, 07:45 was 14th. Neil Bell 07:43 was 13th. Simon Titmuss who amazingly managed to improve on his last time up the Yak by over 21 minutes was 12th in 07:39.

With youngsters Alasdair and Theo in 11th and 9th we then had David Henderson was 10th in 07:32. Paul Rigg of NBCC in 8th, 07:11. Donald Smith, 07:08, put him 7th and Ross Taylor, 07:03 was 6th.

I, as mentioned, was 5th. 4th was Michael Perkins, Michael knows the rules re giving positive feedback on the reports. He emailed me this morning to say how much he’d enjoyed the series & was looking forward to the wedding report, I mean race report. Cheque is in the post. Michael finished in 06:45. 3rd was Daniel Cain of GTR in 06:40. 2nd and an unsurprising high finish after shredding everyone’s legs on the Ronde chaingang on Tuesday was Grant Scott. Grant finished in 06:38. The winner on the night was Strava legend Steven Riley. Steven, despite being stuck behind a fleet of tractors finished in 06:28.

Thank you again to everyone who volunteered last night. Alan Burke, my right hand man. Everyone should send Alan a big thank you – he’s helped out 9 times this year and it's meant everything has run smoothly and it’s also enabled me to race more too. Thank you's also to, Alan Dean and Pierpaolo Sidoti for finish line timekeeping. Chris Allen for doing the signs and marshalling. Warren Crombie for giving the best push off I’ve ever seen, I swear I was half way up the Yak before Warren let go of my seatpost. Malcolm Cunningham for marshalling at the start roundabout. And, of course, Hannah Chater for helping at sign on. See, she does exist people! She is real. And she’s not a paid actor either. I promise.

It's the final week next week, 18:30 start for a 5M TT. I hope to see strong numbers to finish the series off with.

Week 15 Results here - Week 15 Results

Go well