Tour de Presteigne 2008 electric bike rally report

We’re back from our third outing to the Tour de Presteigne event.

This year’s two-day event felt busier and better than ever. The exhibition was focused around a large geodesic dome in the town’s green and pleasant industrial estate while the race was held in the town centre with a twisting, turning course centred around Broad Street.

Last year’s event was marred by persistent rain which carried on for months afterwards, threatening to sink the whole country at one point. This year though conditions were near perfect for a cycle endurance rally, dry and cool.

Tour de Presteigne 2008 electric bike rally report 1

The starting grid: Lloyd (topless), Tom (black top), Dan (red top)

The format of the race stayed the same – the winner is whoever completes the most laps of the circuit in one hour. This years rally was split into two categories for the first time – modified (ie bikes with post-production performance enhancement such as derestriction, extra battery packs) and standard (ie bikes straight out of the factory as the manufacturer intended) – with perhaps the widest range of bikes yet and possibly the most riders. Certainly the most determined and Lycra clad.

We fielded four entrants this year, all riding our new Kalkhoff bikes.

Tom Gilfedder of 50cycles rode a Kalkhoff Pro Connect electric bike stripped down to its bare essentials, leaving little more than 17kg of prime German electric bicycle.

Lloyd Clarkson, also of 50cycles, started the race on Kalkhoff Agattu electric bike he had modified himself and named ‘Project X’, something he had been secretly working on in the company’s own Skunkworks for weeks.

Dan McIslay, an upcoming track cycling star, borrowed an Agattu for the event

Emma took to the streets of Presteigne on an extra-small Kalkhoff Pro Connect step-thru electric bike (finishing the race as the first female).

Peter Henshaw glided the top-spec Tasman around the course (probably one of the more comfortable ways to tour Presteigne, and at a sensible speed).

Also, a special mention for Dave Cockroft, who piloted his own Kalkhoff Agattu successfully around the course in a good time. Nice talking to you over the weekend Dave, keep up the good work!

Lloyd and Tom got off to a flying start, hitting and exceeding 30 mph on the first lap, even lapping the back markers before the end of the first lap. Lloyd’s rather revealing race costume helped stir some excitement from the crowd, as did the wheelies he was able to pull on the much-modified ‘Project X’ Agattu. Tom’s factory Pro Connect was neck-and-neck with Project X for the first half of the race, with other makes and models struggling to make an impression on the electrodynamic duo. However, this is when things started to get tricky…

While taking part in a little crowd interaction on a particularly tricky corner off Hereford Street, Lloyd lost a battle with a ‘safety’ bump and came off Project X at high speed, injuring his knee with spectacular effect. He also picked up a puncture shortly after. Despite this, Lloyd was able to continue (averaging around 20mph even with a flat rear tyre) finally completing the course on a standby Kalkhoff Agattu (the one we use for reviews and which many customers in the South East will have test-ridden recently).

Tour de Presteigne 2008 electric bike rally report 2Meanwhile, Tom (pictured left, with 15 mins to go – it’s lonely at the front) continued his cracking pace to lead the pack by a couple of laps at this point. However, he too sustained a puncture in his front tyre (a usually impregnable Schwalbe Marathon that was beaten by a dirty great tack). Fortunately we were able to swap out the quick release front wheel from another Pro Connect within a couple of minutes (the donor Pro Connect had started the race ridden by A to B’s David Henshaw before a last-minute mod using a gear sprocket swapped over from David’s Brompton caused the chain to give!)

Despite this serious, almost race-finishing delay, Tom apparently regained and then kept his lead until the hour was up, ending the rally with a racing finish.

Some confusion over timekeeping and whoTour de Presteigne 2008 electric bike rally report 3 was where on the final lap saw Tom Gilfedder gracefully concede the overall top spot to last year’s winner and one of our customers Ian Johnson on his modified eZee Torq (pictured right, with Tom, during discussions at the finishing line)

Happily, Tom still took first place in the standard category, winning a bottle of champagne and his place in Tour de Presteigne history.

After their flying starts and breathtaking pace throughout the first two thirds of the race, Lloyd and Tom would surely have taken the top two places had it not been for a pair of pesky rusty old tacks they picked up on the course.

Lloyd has vowed to fit absolutely puncture proof Specialized Armadillo tyres to next year’s incarnation of Project X. Special congratulations to Emma for finishing first among the female entrants this year.