The final race of the 2021 time trialling season is usually the first, but Covid-19 restrictions meant the curtains came down instead on a glorious October afternoon in a low key close. With many riders already having packed their time trial bikes away until 2022 those who entered Wrekinsport’s Chris Edwards Hilly 18 at Worfield enjoyed probably the best weather the event has ever offered as the Friction Hydraulic Series had four outstanding medals resolved in Round 19. Starting at Stableford crossroads, riders are immediately faced with a stiff climb – but that’s nothing to the fearsome climb of The Hermitage 10 miles in which ramps up to 15% near the top and opens the lungs.
Won overall by Solihull CC's Dave Fellows in a fine time of 38 minutes 2 seconds, best placed of the County riders was Wrekinsport’s Tomos Hales – leading home a curious series of riders all worried about nursing their bikes around the course. Hales won his club’s Chris Edwards Trophy with a good effort of 41:44, having runner-up Henri Bedford in his sights for much of the race as a carrot. Hales however didn’t wish to change his giant front ring and was sweating on losing significant time up The Hermitage, even at one point pre-race considering changeing bikes at the foot of the climb, but in the end he managed to maul himself up, as he explained: “I was delighted to take the County win. It was a great day for it, making a nice change to it being in early Spring. Henri was a good target in the distance but I was more worried about getting up The Hermitage with my 58-25 gearing. Thanks Wrekinsport for organising, and all the marshals and timekeepers”.
Bedford meanwhile had his own problems as his electronic gears started playing up at Sutton Maddock, 3½ miles into the race, meaning he had to alternatively push too big a gear or spin a small one as signals from the gear changer got misinterpreted. In the end he finished County runner-up by nine seconds ahead of Tim Beardmore in an impressive 42:16. He stated: “The last race of the season is always welcomed especially after a long season. Things didn’t go to plan as my Di2 decided it didn’t want to work after the first roundabout. I struggled around the whole course in either a too big gear or too small. I enjoyed it nonetheless despite having Tomos breathing down my neck starting a minute behind - thanks to Wrekinsport CC”.
Beardmore made it three from three with bike issues thanks to an armrest that worked loose even earlier than Bedford’s issue, perhaps exacerbated by the road surface which is far from ideal. The Bridgnorth CC rider had home road advantage however and still posted an impressive 42:25 to take County 3rd which converted to +6:04 giving him the Veteran's runner-up spot. Beardmore explained: “One of my favourite courses, with lovely weather to end the season. The race however did not go according to plan. Two miles my one armrest came loose and almost fell off. I wasn’t sure weather to abandon or not but decided to persevere cautiously and happy to get round in the end. Massive thanks to all Wrekinsport CC for organising”.
The Woman's race could barely have been more competitive as the three entrants were split by just 19 seconds with Silver and Bronze medals in play. Winner was Nova Raiders' Deb Hutson-Lumb who captured Women's Silver on the strength of her 48:05 ride, pushing out Hafren CC's Emma Serjeant by seven seconds for the win and consigning Market Drayton CC’s Alison Dockney to Bronze with a still excellent 48:17. As seems almost inevitable in 2021 Hutson-Lumb also took victory in the Veteran's with a fine +6:26. She stated: “After a delayed start to the season I was really pleased to pick up Silver. I will hopefully have an injury free winter and looking forward to next season. Well done to everyone involved in SCCA racing 2021! Fabulous weather for what is usually a freezing, wet and windy event. Having done no hill work this year climbs felt tougher than usual. It was good to have a very competitive Women’s race with only 19 seconds between the three of us and Alison absolutely smashing the climbs. A great end to the season, and many thanks to everyone involved in making it happen”.
With Bedford long sealing the Friction Junior Series title Wrekinsport CC's Ben Southgate helped himself to Junior Silver one his first attempt at The Hermitage thanks to a 52:35 ride. He stated: “Very happy to receive the medal, improving every day. All that hard work is paying off. I'm really happy considering the road conditions”. That left Junior Bronze to be settled on count back rules with Market Drayton CC’s Harry Corney beating Hafren CC’s Max Bufton by five seconds with the pair tied on points.