17th June 2016
We all know how good a motorhome is at touring, taking the family to the seaside and escaping for a peaceful weekend of rest & relaxation but did you know the Bailey Approach Advance is also a dab hand at being race HQ?
Bailey are proud sponsors of the Matrix Pro Women’s Cycling Team and among the ultra-talented ladies is none other than double Olympic medalist Laura Trott. Competing at such a high level obviously demands superhuman fitness levels plus bucket-loads of grit and determination but a lot goes on behind the scenes to make it all possible. I paid Matrix a visit during the Lincoln GP weekend to see the team and the motorhome in action and, where possible, I’d be acting as support crew. No pressure.
Backstage tasks begin long before the cyclists arrive and with the motorhome loaded with warm-up rollers, cycling kit, nutritional drinks and a host of other essentials for the following day, Martin fired-up the oven to cook his specially blended energy cakes that would keep the riders going the following morning. Correct consistency achieved – hard enough to fit in a pocket, soft enough to eat on the go – race HQ was put to bed for the night. Sunday began at 6am and being more of an owl than a lark, just watching Team Matrix setting-up the warm-up rollers, winding-out the awning, mixing the nutritional drinks and conducting final checks on the bikes made me think my support crew tasking had better be postponed until later in the day when my brain fog had cleared.
With the beginning of the race approaching, the focus understandably switched to the multi-lap Lincoln street circuit and we headed for the dramatic 400 metre cobbled climb that heads towards the finishing line. Admittedly, I’m still carrying some of my winter weight but the cobbles were steep enough to get most spectators huffing & puffing. I couldn’t help wondering if this climb was a psychological barrier as well as a gravitational one as the cyclists must reach the peak no less than 8 times to complete the 3-hour race.
The riders may be carrying Martin’s Magic Cakes plus a bottle or two of water but the Feeding Station plays a very important part during the race and we headed for a long, level stretch to hand-out the all-important nutritional drinks. Spotting individual riders would be much easier if they rode in an orderly, single-file fashion but jammed together and going at speed, holding the correct bottle for the correct rider is a lot tougher than it sounds. As the race progressed, collisions had shifted riders from the leading packs, although none of the crashes were caused by a wayward bottle…thankfully.
Alice Cobb narrowly avoided a pile-up at the foot of the cobbles during the final lap which cost her valuable places just 400 metres from the chequered flag, but as a team, Matrix Pro came, they saw and although they didn’t conquer on this occasion, they proved that a sprinkling of luck can be as important as hard work and a closely guarded cake recipe.
The Bailey-sponsored cycling team had already earned themselves a reputation as the team that likes to picnic and the motorhome with matching picnic chairs was making sure this title remained. A debrief in the Approach was followed by rider refueling in the sunshine which proves the point that a motorhome is made to make you relax, no matter how you decide to use it.