I swore never to pin a number on my back after the Bec Hill Climb, October 12th, 2014. Yet for the third year in a row I found myself with not only a number pinned to my back, but also two stuck to my arms. To add insult to injury I wasn't even on a bike, I was standing against a barrier on one side of The Mall with my Brompton folded up on the other awaiting the countdown for the Le Mans style start and a 10 mile circuit race in front of Buckingham Palace with the winner becoming the Brompton World Champion. Fortunately, the Queen wasn't home, and I wasn't alone.
I had managed to rally together a CHPT3 team, and although the final version of the Brompton CHPT3 bike doesn't go into production till September we managed to pull together enough bikes from all the different prototype versions to fully equip the team. I was the only rider within our elite squad to have any BWC experience, in fact, three of our five had only lost their Brompton cherry in the previous days. Allow me to introduce them, from left to right in the above image, Steve Mills, me, Richard Pearce, Paul Bolwell, and Peter Denton. We were destined to failure, and as the picture clearly demonstrates, some among us were completely clueless to our fate. Innocence is bliss etc.
It's at this point I should probably mention it was raining heavily, and had been in the hours leading up to the race, so much so that my wife and children had jumped ship before we'd even set sail. Not before having an ice cream first, of course.
It was not ideal, but we had a job to do, and more importantly we had a flag (of sorts) to fly. CHPT3 was not going to show weakness.
Unfortunately we were scattered along the start grid. Nearly 500 competitors from all over the world were lined up, all of whom had to qualify through local/national events to have the right to set foot on The Mall. We had been given special dispensation because of our special relationship with Brompton. Unfortunately certain members of our team had shown very low expectations regards their potential performance when filling in the entry form that asked for their anticipated finish time and therefore their position on the grid was shit. I was in wave A, position 6, Richard was in wave A, position 23. Two of our team were in wave C, position 301 and 303. The third was somewhere equidistant between the four of us. We were scatter-bombed.
The only highlight was that I scored a cool helmet and looked a little more like a 50's racing driver (in my head) than a tweed chap with a folding bike. Little victories and all that. Because it should be known that there is a dress code to the BWC: jacket, shirt and tie must be worn - strictly no lycra or other such sports tech stuff. Everybody finds their own look, the only consistency in the CHPT3 team was the bike and the Maserati tie.
The rules are quite simple, you fold your bike up and park it up on the left hand side of The Mall, you then wait on the other side of The Mall for the start and run across and unfold it and set off. Sounds easy huh? It's not, have a look at my first attempt at my inaugural BWC in 2015:
This year was slightly better, Chris Boardman took this video from his commentary position behind me, and although far from perfect, a vast improvement:
I think both of these videos paint a very clear picture of what it's all about. Needless to say none of it went to what little (non-existent) plan we had, and we all ended up arriving separately having barely seen each other, I think Richard was first CHPT3 rider across the line, although that is not exactly a champagne popping occasion.
We were all filthy and freezing, and I actually felt really bad for roping the guys into it, yet as I stumbled across them one by one after the finish they seemed completely over the moon about the whole experience, already swearing allegiance to the cause when it came to BWC 2018. Which I suppose is what it's all about, I mean who cares, next time we're sticking together whatever happens, if we're going to lose we may as well do it united.
I'd met Matthew Tatlock at a CHPT3 pop up event at Giro in Esher during the Dauphine, he had told me about his money raising venture for LandAid ( a charity that helps young homeless people in the UK) that involved him completing the RideLondon 100 on a Brompton in a suit. I happened to have ridden to the event on my Brompton, and he asked if he could take it for a spin, of course I said yes, he came back and said it was much faster than his, I then said he should borrow it for the ride. And so it came about that after the race, before even seeing the rest of the illustrious CHPT3 team, I handed over my bike to Matthew.
A couple of other things you should know about Matthew, he is 6'8" and 110kg, and a former full time GB rower as well as Henley Royal Regatta winner. This is the reason I look small in the below photo, which I have to admit I am quite liking. Oh, and by the way, he did complete the 100 miles on the Brompton CHPT3 and in a suit, and he did it in five hours and eighteen minutes.
Please check out what he is doing and why using the below:
Charity Page: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ridelondononabrompton