THE FOUR-MAN Shipston Cycling Club team retained their Great Shakespeare Ride 100k title as they proved last year’s success was no fluke.
Tony Moss, Dave Martin, Kim Baddeley and Gary Gristwood were the Shipston CC participants this year as Kim replaced last year’s guest rider and Tony, who rode with the team unofficially last year, came in for Paul Atkinson who was on holiday.
In 2015 the Shipston team won the event in a time of four hours and four minutes and their target this time was to beat the four-hour barrier which would hopefully secure another victory.
In fine weather the team left the Stratford Manor Hotel in good spirits for the initial three-mile, car-controlled departure to Charlecote.
Soon afterwards they were ascending Frizz Hill and then onwards to Kineton and Radway, before heading for the first major climb of the day at Lady Elizabeth Hill in Tysoe, which was an officially timed section.
Tony graciously said regroup at the top, so Kim and Gary took the opportunity to stretch their legs a bit. Gary was very pleased with his time of five minutes and four seconds – coming 25th out of 288 on the 100k ride – especially as he will be 62 in October with a hip replacement due that month as well.
On they went through Sibford Gower and Hook Norton before the Rollright Stones loomed and it was about here the team had their only ‘mechanical’ of the day when Gary suffered a chain-off.
This cost the team about three minutes as Gary played catch-up with his team-mates, who were waiting for him near Little Compton.
They were all back together again as they headed for Todenham and then past the second feed station at Ebrington, before descending Hidcote Hill.
Their old friend Larkstoke was next before heading down into Ilmington and then on to Alderminster, where they made the climb to Loxley.
Both Gary and Tony then suffered stings from unknown insects but, undaunted, they put in a big effort out of Hampton Lucy up to the junction near Wyevale and then raced down the hill to the finish line.
The team were thrilled to finish in three hours and 55 minutes, as described by Gary who said: “We rode really well as a group, mixing up pairs riding, single file and chain-ganging to good effect.
“Special mention must be made of Kim Baddeley who, despite breaking his ankle earlier this year after falling off his bike on ice, was a real driving force in keeping things moving along nicely and helping to set a good pace for the group.
“Tony did a great job in keeping everybody focused and Dave also put in a fantastic effort on the day.
“Here’s to 2017 when we will do our level best to make it three wins in a row!
“The organisers, as always, ran a superb event which, in my view, is right up there with the very best of them when it comes to sportives.”