First-time entrants to the 2019 Coaching Revolutions 2-Up Series snaffled the first two places in Round 7 with the destinations of both pairs of Gold medals that were undecided pre-race settled on the night. Red hot weather saw a big turnout for Wrekinsport CC's 10 as 22 teams took the line to test themselves and each other against the clock. Taking the win Chris Halford and Rich Smith had come close to beating 22 minutes in the same event in 2018, but wanted to go better. They certainly did that, taking the win in 21 minutes 41 seconds to beat the nearest opposition by an impressive 34 seconds. Halford revealed that was their aim pre-race and he knew just the level of power they would need to output to meet their target, though he wasn't on the best of nights: "We wanted to get a '21' after being so close last year. Big kudos to Richard as I wasn't on the best night".
Smith wasn't so sure his team mate was suffering in the heat and was delighted both to knock 26 seconds off their 2018 benchmark as well as hanging on for dear life as Halford ramped up the power. Smith paid tribute to Halford in his post-race comments but knew that a much-vaunted weight loss was instrumental in their improvement: "Chris and I managed 22:07 last year. It inspired me to believe I could get a bit faster if I listened to my own training advice and shed some timber! 21:41 this year. An absolute pleasure to ride with (well, mostly behind) Chris"!
A first-time pairing took runner-up spot by a solitary second as Revolutions Racing's Henri Bedford got his first experience of the format thanks to a promise made months earlier. Bedford has improved tremendously during 2019 and took an offer to team up with fast man Dan Watts as a spur. Bedford and Watts were clearly testing each other out as they passed the finish line the first time through and that desire to push on saw them finish in 22:15, just a second ahead of Series leaders Ed Middleton and Nick Long. Bedford enjoyed his first taste of a 2-Up and judging by the beaming smile post-race was clearly looking forward to another go. He stated: "The inaugural 2-Up for me so I didn’t know how it would turn out with the combination of my TT bike and Dan on a road bike after a heavy pre-race session for him. We had no real strategy before the start but we managed to work something out along the way. I enjoyed the experience, and am keen to develop and I will be back for more. Thank you to everyone, and especially Dan for the opportunity - what a way to celebrate the last day of term"!
Watts was ruing that heavy pre-race session and made life hard for himself by racing on his road bike but was impressed by the passion of his young race partner, adding: "2-Ups are always hard races, especially when one person is on a TT bike and the other a road bike. Henri pulled some pretty big turns into the wind to keep us moving well, and as a result we were pretty pleased with our time considering it’s our first race together. We’ve both agreed to come back for more in the future, although I'll probably ride my TT bike next time so that Henri doesn’t give me a kicking again"!
Regardless of being pushed into third spot on the night Ed Middleton and Nick Long did enough to seal Coaching Revolutions 2-Up Gold with the 16 points they added to their tally - despite a strange encounter of the bovine kind which was instrumental in them losing that second to Bedford and Watts, as Long explained: "One of my favourite courses, but always strong competition, and we knew Chris Halford and Rich Smith would be extremely difficult to beat. Still, getting within a second of second place was a good result. We were flying until split up by cows on the road, and the long drag back into Shawbirch is always slower than expected, so room for improvement next year! Great to see so many other riders out enjoying the event, it's what the 2-Up series is all about".
Despite that hold-up 2018's Silver medalists were however delighted to go one better this year, with Middleton finally recapturing a Trophy he last held in 2015 when partnered with Scott Harris. Like Long he knew he had been in a race, stating: "Thanks to Wrekinsport for putting on a fun round, and well done to the winning Wrekinsport team for putting down a rapid time. It’s always tough racing back to back, but we enjoyed it. Great to have the Gold confirmed, it’s been a pleasure racing with Nick who has been getting faster throughout the season. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in putting on the Series".
Middleton and Long weren't the only ones to improve from the Silver medals they won in 2018 as Sarah Grant and Alison Dockney sealed Women's Series Gold with the maximum 100 points possible in this Best 5 from 9 Series. The pair set yet another Course personal best in a season littered with them, stopping the watch on 24:47 despite Grant having to race on her road bike, as Dockney explained: "A mechanical mishap led to Sarah having to race on her road bike, but given how tired my legs were this was probably a good thing, meaning we were pretty closely matched with me in full TT mode. I'm pleased to have achieved a Course PB given the circumstances, and it was fantastic to see so many riders out on a lovely evening for racing. I feel very proud to have secured the Women's 2-Up Series win, it's been a fantastic Series for us so far with successive course PB's and we've worked really well together as a team. As always, a huge thank-you to all involved with organising and hosting these events, and to all of the competitors for creating such a fun and friendly atmosphere".
Grant meanwhile was over the moon at taking Gold and paid tribute to her racing partner as both have pushed each other to greater heights: "I'm super proud of our partnership in the 2-Up Series these last two years and absolutely thrilled to be the winners this year! Another great race for us. Thanks so much to Aly for her hard work, and to all the SCCA and everyone who makes the racing happen".
Meanwhile the Mixed Team Gold medalists had had 24 hours to get accustomed to winning their titles but were in no mood to rest on their laurels with six Mixed Teams in competition. Emma Serjeant and Mark Hill took the win in 23:44 and by 23 seconds from Deb and Bernard Hutson-Lumb despite tired legs and again reached the 100 point possible maximum thanks to that win. Serjeant revealed she struggled due to the déjà vu evoked by taking the start line so closely after a hard effort at Ludlow, stating: "I’m not sure if it was the heat or just tired legs from Ludlow the night before but I blew up just before the first roundabout! The next six miles were just a blur of trying to stay on Mark’s wheel and do a bit on the front. In the circumstances I'm very pleased with our time, and full credit to Mark for pulling us to the finish". Hill made sure he was prepared to go again for the second evening in a row after carefully carbo-loading pre-race: "Two gels at the start gave me the push I needed on another hot evening. A fast start and first turn left at the crossroads was tough up the hill. We regained a tight pair from halfway and pushed ourselves to the line. Thanks to Emma again for another 2-Up".