I was recently asked by a good customer who serves in the Royal Navy whether I would be interested in working as the event mechanic at the Royal Navy Cycling Festival. It is the type of event that I am always keen to volunteer for so once the Navy cycling committee had accepted and agreed to my ludicrous demands I was signed up to help.
The event was held on Thursday 16th March 2017 at RNAS
Merryfield, a military airfield near Ilminster in Somerset. Holding such events on airfields is a real advantage as they are free of traffic and give riders a real chance to experience fast peloton style racing and uninterrupted time trial racing. The perimeter road of the airfield was a loop of 3 miles which was perfect for the event despite the surface in some areas being so rough it resembled cobbles.
The event consisted of 5 races in total: a 6 mile individual time trial, 6 mile partner (2 up) time trial, the Inter Unit 9 mile team time trial, a development race and the much anticipated inter unit road race. All the races were well organised and incredibly competitive.
The idea was to make the sport of cycling attractive and accessible to all so there was a fabulous mix of cyclists from first timers up to super serious riders with bikes that cost so much it made my eyes water. I wasn’t expecting to be particularly busy during the early part of the day, I figured that military personnel ought to, at the very least, have serviced and operational kit at the start of the event. I was correct in my assumption and bar a few minor checks and tweaks it was a quiet but enjoyable start and gave me plenty of time to enjoy the free buffet.
Things changed quite dramatically at the end of the development
race when two riders collided in a horrible looking accident. The riders were taken to the medical tent and the bikes were brought over to me for assessment and hopefully repair. The first was amazingly untouched and looked like it had just come out of the showroom!! The second had sustained some serious damage including two buckled wheels, bent mech hanger, front tyre blow out and damaged rear brake caliper.
I rather thought that I would be able to put the damaged bike back together leisurely in my own time, assuming that the horrendous amount of tarmac burn that the rider sustained to his legs, arm, shoulder, hands chest and hip would rule him out of any further races. He was in a terrible state. Turns out I was wrong and Royal Marines are made from sterner stuff!! I managed to get the bike back together in double quick time and the rider then took part in both the two up time trial and the team time trial. Truly heroic!!
The remainder of the day went without incident and it was
considered by all involved to have been a fantastic success. My thanks to Tam Frazer for inviting me to get involved, to the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Cycling Association for accepting my rock star-esque demands, to Richard Anders for the photographs and to the Fat Pig Company for the delicious buffet!!
Read Richard Anders blog project at www.cycle365project.com
(Top Left Photo: frantically repairing a crash damaged bicycle)
(Top Right Photo: the start of the Development Race)
(Middle Left Photo: nice formation in the Team Time Trial)
(Middle Right Photo: moody mid repair photo from Richard Anders)
(Bottom Left Photo: the most important tent at the event)
(Bottom Right Photo: the culmination of the Development Race, just before the serious crash)