The Safer In The City forum on 23 November set the stage for the grand unveiling of the Winter Cycling League, a brand new competition that pits corporate teams against each other to prove which organisation is the fastest firm on two wheels.
A total of eight teams competed across four heats, with a ‘champions showdown’ held for the four fastest men and four fastest women in the grand final. Each team entered four riders who simultaneously strapped themselves in for a 250m ‘static’ sprint on Rollapaluza’s custom fixed cycles.
Teams came from all corners of the City, namely; New London Architecture, Nomura, the City of London Police, Momentum Transport, the Nuffield Health Team (who manage Nomura’s wellbeing services), the Corporation’s Air Quality Team and the local authority’s Built Environment Team, and a team from the McGee Group, a construction and demolition company and vehicle fleet operator.
New London Architecture were up first and despite reservations about the promotion of fast cycling in the City, chairman Peter Murray soon came to appreciate the positive bonds being forged in the saddle. He clocked an impressive time of 13.50 seconds, the fastest of anyone in his quartet.
Momentum were the early pace setters, ably led by David Hart who romped home in 12.09s to help his team post a collective time of 53.63s, a full 12 seconds faster than their New London Architecture counterparts. There was no missing the next force to be reckoned with; the City of London Police team taking on the challenge in their fluorescent yellow patrol gear.
But rather than hamper Emma Attwood, Rob Sweet, Ben Ellen and Stu Ford, the authenticity of the ride seemed to focus the group who stormed into top spot (52.83s) as if they were hot on the heels of a mugger making off with a purse. Carol Neil and Nomura were then in the hotseat but a more slow and steady approach saw them slip to the bottom of the standings – Rob Eveleigh the quickest over the line in 14.62s. Ian Edwards, who had laid down the gauntlet during his Safer in the City presentation before kitting up for the Winter Cycling League, was left with his head in his hands as the favourites – all finished in 53.49 – wobbled in their heat.
Lauren Lunniss, Luke Copeland and Felix Ogeah, alongside Mr Edwards, chalked up some of the speediest times of the evening, but a series of slips from the pedals denied them a personal best. Team McGee fell some way short of blazing a trail but did enough to avoid the wooden spoon with a collective time of 1:07.24 before the Corporation’s two entries did their best to cause an upset and knock the police team from their perch.
First to try their luck was the Air Quality Team, which featured Andrew Grieve. Crossing the line in 13.80s, he and his team-mates posted a time just a fraction of a second outside the coveted one-minute barrier. And their efforts were at enough to earn bragging rights at City HQ, with the Built Environment contingent unable to overhaul their colleagues. Emma Norton, Steve Presland, Chris Sharpe and Gordon Deward (1:02.24) can hold their heads high but the Corporation’s plaudits go to Mr Grieve and co on this occasion.
The formalities of the medal presentation were then put on hold while the cream of the crop battled it out for personal accolades. Stu Ford, who finished in 11.67s in his heat, cycled a near identical race in the final to take gold in 11.77s. He was first past the post ahead of fellow officer Ben Ellen (12.41s) and Momentum’s David Hart (13.64s). Rob Sweet, also of the force, did not finish due to a slipped bike chain.
Lauren Lunniss earned a consolation for the Nuffield team by taking top spot in the women’s finale, her time of 12.90s ousting Nina Swallow (15.30s), Victoria Collins (15.54s) and Sharon Mellow (15.60s).
Standing proudly at the top of the team podium at the evening’s close were the City of London Police, followed by Nuffield Health in second and Momentum Transport in the bronze position.