Action from the race. Picture: SUBMITTED.

CYCLING: A trip to the southern counties in May should be one of sunshine and ice cream, writes Tom Middleton.

However, the reality was icy temperatures alongside driving wind and rain for members of West Norfolk’s Velouse Flyers, competing in Winchester.

The Battle in the Bowl is a one-off race mix of cyclocross and gravel racing around the Matterley Estate near The South Downs Way. 

The race runs over a 4.6km course, with 100m of climbing on every lap. 

Despite the conditions, breaks in the weather on Saturday allowed for a few practice laps but the rain fell throughout the night and by race time, the course was unrecognisable to the previous day. 

The six Flyers – Ian Jeakins, Tom Middleton, Glyn Smith, Ben Keeley, Maciej Malyszka and Paul Hunt – made a strong start and they were all in the top half of the field, as they set out on to the first gravel climb. 

One and a half laps in Jeakins had to withdraw after a puncture left him valiantly running through the mud. The mud and slick surface saw crashes on every lap and Glyn Smith found out the hard way on the fastest and most technical descent, which led to unplanned meeting with a gate post and an arm in need of stitches. 

Despite the misfortune, faced by his colleagues, Keeley pressed hard at the front of the race, just a few seconds off of the lead riders. 

A little further back the remaining three Flyers were trading places, as they fought their way around the increasingly difficult course. 

Despite a minor mechanical fault, Malyszka managed to get back into the race and work his way back up the field. 

All of the Flyers had near misses but managed to keep their bikes rubber side down to finish strongly.

Keeley was the first Flyer across the line, finishing fifth in the senior men’s category, two minutes ahead of Malyszka, who was 17th in the Vet 40s category. 

Hunt crossed the line in 21st place with Middleton coming 24th. 

For more details about the Velouse Flyers’ activities, Visit the website or follow the club’s Facebook page.