The opening event of the County cycling time trialling season saw a new course in first use; a new Road Bike competition; and a first-time winner in the Friction Hydraulics Series, with Wrekinsport CC promoting their Chris Edwards Hilly 17 between Atcham and Horsehay. Riders had one word that summed the experience up back at HQ post-race: ‘Tough’ – as if the rolling terrain through Leighton wasn’t enough a climb up the Ironbridge bypass was added in for good measure on a straight out and back course. Early season events traditionally offer a challenge to offer a chance to regain fitness lost over the winter – but you wouldn’t know that was needed for the superb times of the Overall and Road Bike winners, split by just 11 seconds.

First time winner Bridgnorth CC’s Paul Horton set the inaugural course record of a superb 41 minutes 56 seconds, an average speed of over 24.3mph on a time trial rig which had been set up just the day before. That set up proved decisive at Horton scored his first ever Open win on what is a key training road for him. He put that familiarity to good use after battling through a 15mph headwind to the turn to gain time on the return: “It’s my first ever Open win, and I’m over the moon to say the least. I had just been for a bike fit the day before with Jamal Mashlab at Lilleshall Clinic, who had made some fairly big changes to my position. I knew in the first 10 minutes of the race that these changes had worked. I know the course really well because I ride the return leg every Saturday on the local legendary bash which starts from Pattingham. I will most definitely be riding this event again”.

The new Road Bike competition is the SCCA’s response to a National level initiative instigated midway through 2023 to encourage riders without a dedicated time trial bike, road men, or those who fancy a return to the origins of the sport to get competitive in a dedicated Championship – although what to enter was more a quandary for Newport CC’s Matt Garthwaite. Finishing just 11 seconds behind Horton on 42:07 to take the Overall runner-up spot, Garthwaite was actually ahead at the turn based on Strava data, and took the Road Bike win by a serious margin of 5:01 from another Bridgnorth rider, Paul Bailey in this age and gender-adjusted competition – although the only disappointment of the day being that no females tried their luck. Garthwaite summed up his race and the additional challenge faced over the previously used Bridgnorth course: “TT bike or road bike; that was a real dilemma when I entered, but an easy decision in the end when I realised I needed new tubular tyres for the time trial bike. The course was fantastically disgusting, and I found it much more taxing than the Bridgnorth circuit, especially the slog up the bypass. I know Paul Horton well, so I knew it would be a tall order to beat him, so I gave it my all on the climbs which worked, as my analysis shows I was 38 seconds up on him at the half way point. However I was no match on the descents and flat and he clawed the time back with ease. In hindsight, a road bike with clip-on tribars and an aero helmet would have been a better setup.  A great event and I really appreciated the support from the contingent of marshals on the course”.

Horton wasn’t the only rider making best use of local knowledge as Hafren CC’s Bryn Davies took third place Overall in 43:11 as well as the Veteran’s win with +2:33, one of only three riders to beat their Veteran’s Standard showing the challenge faced. In spite of that challenge it definitely made an impression with many riders who were waxing lyrical about the new course, with Davies a big fan: “Loved it, the best course in the County and Series for sure, I can’t wait to ride it again. I was really happy with how the race went, I’m usually slow off the mark early season, taking a few races to get into it and don’t usually perform well in colder conditions. I’ve lost a few kilos this year, making a big difference on a lumpy course like this, pushing on the climbs on the way out, but more considered and controlled pacing on the climb out of Buildwas. I got a little held up in traffic going out of Leighton into Buildwas, but that’s how it goes sometimes. With the course being close to home I’d managed to get a couple of runs in, which helped with some of the faster downhill sections, being able to keep down in position and on the return pushing over the climbs. I could have given a bit more on the flatter sections, pushing to the finish however, realising I had more left in the tank than I thought. The organisation and marshalling were excellent, as was the venue and hospitality at the end. It was good to back racing again, seeing some old faces and a few new riders, lighting up the results with some impressive times! Big thanks to all involved”.

Davies beat Simon Romei by +1:01 into Veteran’s runner-up spot as the Paramount rider registered +1:32, who professed himself happy with his effort: “A good season opener on a tough, hilly but fair course. I had a good race and was happy with my result considering it was a new course with a stiff head wind going out. I have to say a big thanks to all the marshals who make these races possible”.

Another fan of the new course was Romei’s team mate Chris Riley, who just beat his Standard with +0:04. He commented: “A cracking course. Lovely HQ which I never knew was there. It was great to see everyone again and a brilliant start to the Shropshire season. It was a very strong field as well”.

Wrekinsport were running their Chris Edwards Championship within the event and a brand new member in his first ever time trial showed adaptability from his preferred triathlon to make an immediate impact as Oli Freeman captured a club trophy at first attempt with a strong 45:20. 

Friction Series Round 1:

Pos’nForename SurnameClubTimePoints
1PaulHortonBridgnorth Cycling Club00:41:5660
2MatthewGarthwaiteNewport (Shropshire) CC00:42:0755
3BrynDaviesHafren CC00:43:1150
4Simon RomeiParamount CRT00:43:4645
5OliFreemanWrekinsport CC00:45:2040
6DevonRoundMid Shropshire Wheelers00:45:3035
7ChristopherRileyParamount CRT00:46:3330
8RobertMcGregorParamount CRT00:47:0225
9PaulBaileyBridgnorth Cycling Club00:47:4820
10MarkFennShropshire CCA00:48:5615
11BenWoodWrekinsport CC00:48:5710
12IanConnollyLudlow CC00:50:095
13AdamMumford Wrekinsport CC00:51:225
14JamesElgarParamount CRT00:51:245
15AllanHenderson Wrekinsport CC00:52:295
16AshleyKirkhamWrekinsport CC00:58:585
.PhilGuyNorth Shropshire WheelersDNS-A.
.AlvydasJanusauskasMid Shropshire WheelersDNS-A.
.TimBeardmoreBridgnorth Cycling ClubDNS-A.
.PhilipRobertsWrekinsport CCDNS-A.


Vets Pos’nForename SurnameClubVet +/-Vets Points
1BrynDaviesHafren CC+2:3360
2Simon RomeiParamount CRT+1:3255
3ChristopherRileyParamount CRT+0:0450
4PaulBaileyBridgnorth Cycling Club-02:3045
5MarkFennShropshire CCA-03:3840
6IanConnollyLudlow CC-03:4435
7JamesElgarParamount CRT-06:4630
8AllanHenderson Wrekinsport CC-07:5125
9AshleyKirkhamWrekinsport CC-13:4020

Road Bike:

RB Pos’nForename SurnameClub RB Adj Time RB Points
1MatthewGarthwaiteNewport (Shropshire) CC00:42:0760
2PaulBaileyBridgnorth Cycling Club00:47:0855
3MarkFennShropshire CCA00:48:1650
4AshleyKirkhamWrekinsport CC00:58:1845

Top Club Award:

1Paramount CRT 105
2Bridgnorth Cycling Club 80
3Wrekinsport CC 65
4Newport (Shropshire) CC 55
5Hafren CC 50
6Mid Shropshire Wheelers 35
7Ludlow CC 5