60 miles later and still the game-face is on
It’s amazing: the day starts north of the city, out into Hertfordshire then back, to west London for some pop-up velodrome racing. It could only be a day in the life of Mr. Chronos!
We kick off at the bottom of Swains Lane. Meeting up with Mark, Mike, Chronos and Captain. The quick ride up and we meet a man on his MTB dancing on the pedals, heaving his way up. It looks like a lot of work. Moments later we’re at the top and sharply dressed, but clearly chilled gentleman is waiting for us by the pond. It can only be Paul. He smiles wishes us good morning and jumps on his dandy red bicycle.
RAC like you never knew it
We make a left and towards Finchley and very quickly the roads open up. On the way a friendly rider joins us, and by the time we reach Potters Bar two ladies join us. Our three new team members depart for a coffee stop with friends. I spot a cycling buddy and call hello. I’m jealous, as I convince myself that they’re probably not going to be punished in the same way Chronos will dish it out.
The roads narrow. The trees in full bloom, shelter us from the striking beams of sunshine. Every now and again each of us take a pull up front, but sure enough as regular as clockwork, Chronos leads us through the morning ride.
You don’t normally have to worry about altercations with motorists. In fact two large vehicles drive mindfully through the deep forests, giving us plenty of room to manoeuvre. All the same, an RAC van races through straight down the middle. He has to do an emergency swerve to avoid us; left wheel lifting into the air, and like in slow motion each one of us makes it through. The black and orange van doesn’t attempt to slow down and races on. Not the attitude you’d expect from the ‘other’ emergency services.
Unlike our rides south, our northern adventure doesn’t have a half-way stop to speak of. Except of course the Safari Park which you can hear before you see. After weaving through the beautifully smooth open roads we pull up by the park, and peer in. Normally the cheetahs rest eloquently on their elevated perches, with the kings of the jungles their neighbours, it’s a very humbling moment to know, we’re not the fastest beings on these roads. And if these animals were to be let loose, they wouldn’t just match us by speed, they’d very likely consume us too!
We return to Highgate with an absolute high. With everyone keeping together and no technical issues, it’s been 5 hours of fun and the day is still has plenty to offer and enjoy.
Our Commonwealth Champion goes Street
We make our way home and without a doubt we’re making great time. Perhaps it’s because of the great weather, but we reckon it’s because Chronos wants to make it back in plenty of time to rest and get ready for his Street Velodrome (SV) race!
We get to Ealing in plenty of time. Time enough to turn this combo of riders into a team and get organised. A track like no other, the SV is aimed at getting every day people into racing in a fun and accessible way. Today’s stage is set in Ealing, and is causing quite a stir on Haven Green.
Ross is introduced as a former Olymopic gold winner, and is riding for another team, but we don’t have to worry, when we discover that Chronos is actually a 3-time, Commonwealth gold champion! According to the MC, this is all true.
The track is tight. With the straights no bigger than 30 metres, and the turns are constrained to the max. Thankfully, Chronos gets to do a warm up and does a solid recce. He’s looking focused, strong and dangerous!
So too is are the other teams. The Chilterns and Mad Dogs look menacing on the track, with one the guys at a height of 6’4 and as stacked as a barn, ripping up the turns like it was nothing more than breakfast. Chronos is riding for our kit manufacturer, Velotec. Looking a lot more refined in their team jerseys, they huddle together and devise a plan. It’s an event more suited to BMX aficionados or track specialists, but with a little bit of grit, a Baroudeur can have a good crack at it too.
The race gets underway and the cow bells are roaring. Each stage is a pursuit race, meaning that each racer goes the opposite way on the technical track. The winner is decided by either completing 3 laps faster than their opponent, or through chasing them down on the ramps, which is known as a ‘Catch.’
Chronos and the team each have a tight race; often with hundredths of seconds between them. It’s just too long a day, and Chronos loses two in a row. In a final surge of energy and in true Baroudeur spirit, Chronos seals his final race with a victory. With his fans on ‘Chronos Hill’ cheering him on, we rise and give him a standing ovation. It’s been a terrific day with friends and an incredible effort by our very own, Chronos!