The 2-Up format got off to an early start as North Shropshire Wheelers promoted Round 1 of the Mower Mec 2-Up Series at Prees over their usual club 10 mile course. Torrential overnight rain thankfully abated by race time although a wet surface and occasional puddles remained. A steady southerly breeze made things a little harder after the turn at Prees Heath roundabout and particularly the climb over the Prees by-pass bridge, but that didn’t stop some very impressive times at the sharp end with Aerologic RT making it a 1-2 with two new pairings for this new club, only set up towards the end of the 2023 season. This is not the easiest course, with any time below 23 minutes considered very strong, so getting below 22 minutes demonstrated something exceptional as Dean Callister and Jonathan Mills-Keeling took a superb win of 21 minutes 20 seconds, well over a minute ahead of the runners-up.

Callister and Mills-Keeling had raced together in the final 2023 Round for their former clubs and had tied for first place so knew their styles were matched, as Callister explained: “First time trial race under new team Aerologic RT. Conditions were wet, but rain stopped for the race. JM-K and I worked well together with some solid efforts. Pleased to take the win for the team – thanks for North Shropshire Wheelers for a top event”. Mills-Keeling added: “Great to be racing again in what turned out to be warm conditions. Excellent 2-Up partnership with Dean, and delighted to get the win”.

Aerologic made an immediate impression in the Series to take the runner-up spot as well, with Mark Pritchard and Scott Palmer a bit nervous thanks to a first time pairing, testing recovery from injury, and a first time on a dedicated time trial bike in many years. None of those worries were problems however as their 22:32 took a clear second spot 2:15 ahead of nearest challengers Neil Wilson and James Elgar of Paramount CRT. Pritchard explained this was a test of recovery for him: “Happy with my first race for a while due to a knee operation. My first time racing with Scott; and we both worked well together. I’m looking forward to the rest of the 2-Up Series – thanks to North Shropshire Wheelers for organising; and for a good turnout even with the wet weather”. Palmer’s concerns meanwhile were more about an untested partnership, an unfamiliar format, and being a stranger to his bike, commenting: “My first time on a time trial bike for eight years and first ever 2-Up. I was a bit apprehensive to begin with, but riding with Mark put any worries to bed. Great course and pleased with second place – thanks to the North Shropshire Wheelers, and well done to Aerologic RT for the 1-2”.

The Mixed Team winners had also had one previous outing in 2023’s Round 5, but didn’t qualify for points at that time. That oversight has been addressed with SCCA Private Member Sorrel Williams and Oswestry Paragon’s Karl Lombardi scoring a win over reigning Mixed Team Champions Jan Davies and Mark Hill by 58 seconds in a strong time of 25:07. Lombardi explained: “We only started riding as a pair late last year as 2-Up was something we really wanted to try and decided to progress the fun by entering the Series. I was a little concerned about standing water on the course due to the frequent rain preceding the event, but the conditions turned out pretty nice considering the time of year. The course was a lot of fun, and we communicated well to manage the relatively long decline and inclined section of the A49.  I caught myself off-guard going into the roundabout and lost Sorrel and had to play catch-up which zapped me a little, but I settled into the zone after that. We encountered a slow moving agricultural vehicle on the B5065 that we could see in the distance and we were edging closer and closer to it for what seemed like miles, but luckily for us, it turned off before Green Lane. We are genuinely stoked to bag 20 points on our debut, and thank the marshals and organisers for putting on the event. We are definitely looking forward to the rest of the season”! Williams has recently moved to Shropshire and enjoyed the competition: “We only started riding as a pair late last year, so missed last year’s 2-Up Series. It was nice to kick off the season, the course kept us honest and in communication with each other, especially up the hill, and our team work strategy seemed to work well. Really pleased to be able to bank 20 points this early on in the Series. The course was well designed, with great organisation and marshalling – looking forward to the next one”!

Full result:

1Dean Callister & Jonathan Mills-KeelingAerologic RT21:2020
2Mark Pritchard & Scott PalmerAerologic RT22:3218
3Neil Wilson & James ElgarParamount CRT24:4716
4Sorrel Williams & Karl LombardiSCCA Private Member & Oswestry Paragon CC25:0714
5Mark Hill & Jan DaviesHafren CC26:0512
6James Neale & James PowellNorth Shropshire Wheelers26:1110
7Jamie Rossiter & Les BougheyNorth Shropshire Wheelers26:538
8Dave Drew & Geoff EdgertonNorth Shropshire Wheelers27:286
9Jayne Powell & Chris RileyParamount CRT29:224

Mixed Team result:

Mixed Pos’nNamesClub(s)TimeMixed Points
1Sorrel Williams & Karl LombardiSCCA Private Member & Oswestry Paragon CC25:0720
2Mark Hill & Jan DaviesHafren CC26:0518
3Jayne Powell & Chris RileyParamount CRT29:2216