_Photos Laura Fletcher_
I turned up to the first of the summer’s Rapha Condor race meetings as the Rapha H van was unfurling. It had somehow made it to the race without breaking down, probably due to some creative engine-cooling methods developed by H-van pilots Harry and Jon. There was rumour of energetic door waving and bonnet opening, as they rattled along at 50mph.
For anyone who hasn’t been there, the course at Hog Hill is a demanding circuit with a tough climb and a fast cornering descent. Whilst it’s a real test for those racing, the clubhouse commands a great panorama of London, so spectators can watch riders suffer whilst enjoying the capital’s skyline in the distance. There is a great atmosphere at this purpose-built racetrack, riders lounging on the grassy banks of the clubhouse in between races.
In between selling Rapha Caps and Rouleur mags, Harry was busy offering free grappa to anyone and everyone. A passing rain shower sounded like a storm from inside the van as I pinned on my race number. I stepped out of the van, having been administered my own shot of race fuel by Harry, and noticed plenty of Rapha kit around as I lined up with a large field of nervous riders.
Dominique Gabellini took the vets race easily with Julian from Condor Cycles coming in third. The 3/4 cat. race had a good turn out of at least 40 riders, well contested with people being shelled out the back on every lap, including myself about half way. Maybe that grappa wasn’t such a good idea (hill repeats are a gut buster). The H van makes a good rattle for supporters and meeting point for people to chew the fat and make excuses for being dropped! Didn’t see the elite race but heard there was some throwing up (hopefully nothing to do with the grappa).
For more details on the Rapha Condor Summer Race Series click.