Goodwood Race Circuit in Southern England was the venue for the 2014 Brompton World Championship Race, an event that captures many of the things that make people think the English are a little odd at times.
For anyone not aware the Brompton Bicycle is a folding bike with small wheels that is often the favourite vehicle of the cycling commuter who has to combine the bike with bus or train. For even more info go to the Brompton website.
On the day, there are actually 3 events, the meander, a ride in the countryside on your Brompton, then the sprint, a 500m sprint and finally the world championship race.
The race takes place over 4 laps of the Goodwod motor racing circuit and is 9.6 miles (15.2 km) and is basically a time trial.
However, as this is a world championship race there are rules, and these rules have to be adhered to. Firstly, the start, all bikes have to be left folded up, and at the sound of the horn you run to your bike, Le Mans style, unfold it and away you go.
Secondly, the dress code, all competitors must wear a shirt, tie and jacket, style is important.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, have fun!
This was my third time doing the race, my previous two entries were at the previous venue of Blenheim Palace, so this was a new circuit for me.
My race went pretty well, the horn went and I got to my folded bike, unfolded and was away, the timing chip only starts when you cross the timing mat at the start/finish line, early on you I was trying to get a bit o momentum to pass people to make progress. There is one very important tactic in this race, and that is you have to draft people, without drafting you are really fighting. About halfway round my first lap I got onto a good wheel and was pulled along for a while. Unfortunately, I lost the wheel when I was baulked getting out of the chicane. From then on it was a case of trying to tag onto either a faster wheel or just use slower riders for a bit of wind protection.
It is worth pointing out that towards the end of the race I was passed by a pack of 10-12 riders who were all working together, I tried to hang onto them for a while but didn’t have the speed to hold on for too long.
All too soon the race was over I crossed the finish, dripping with sweat and wondering if I had done a reasonable performance. I picked up my medal, a nice metal affair, and the bottle of water, which was very welcome.
Well, in terms of my performance, I finished 112 out of over 500 in a time of 28:01 for the 9.6 miles, so a decent performance, could it have been better, of course it could, but if I was totally satisfied would I be a racer?
If you want to see what the event is all abut, have a look at the official Brompton video, it does a good job of showing the fun and games of the day.