This week saw the inaugural IG Markets Cycling Pub Quiz in London and I have to say its the best cycling pub quiz I’ve ever been to.  To be fair, its the only cycling pub quiz I’ve ever been to, but dont let this insignificant fact mislead you – it was an excellent occasion.  TARGETSPORTS joined the HOTCHILLEE team, alongside Jane Blanco, former British road race champion (and close personal friend of Lance Armstrong – not that he’s ever mentioned it) Brian Smith, Laura Fletcher from the Bicycle Film Festival and stepping-up to the plate as a late replacement James Booth – Specialized’s UK PR guru.

Now then, anyone who has ever had the privilege to engage with HOTCHILLEE at any level whatsoever will know that to HOTCHILLEE the journey is frequently more significant than the destination.  It’s not where we end up going – its how we get there that matters.  HOTCHILLEE founder Sven Thiele was unable to attend, said to be resting his liver in his native Cape Town, but he was certainly there in spirit as team skipper Blanco kept the drinks flowing throughout.

This season Team Sky Official Partner IG Markets have produced a series of “Top Trump” style cards – detailing the key facts of each of the team’s riders.  There are 30 cards in each pack.  Each team of 5 were assigned one pack of cards each.  On this occasion each card acted as a drinks token – to be exchanged at the bar for a drink.  So 6 each.  Plus the half dozen beers and 2 bottles of wine already on the table…you get the picture – it was always going to get a bit messy.

Mr Smith remains as competitive as ever, and was the inspirational leader on the road, as our team captain switched her focus to keep “dropping back to the car” to keep the team fuelled.  But his enthusiasm was no match for the thoroughness of the Opta-organised quiz questions.  To be blunt – it was solid.  In fact – it was SO difficult – that the combination of free-flowing booze and the top trump cards led to an impromptu sideshow of “Who Am I” with Laura.  Sadly, it quickly became clear that Laura only actually knows the names of 2 Team Sky Riders – and her tactic of opening up with “Am I Ian Stannard*?” ensured that game was short-lived and we were once again forced to face the fact that we actually didn’t really know very much about cycling.

The evening drew to a close, our paper marked by a motley bunch from Fusion Media…who took great delight mocking our feeble attempts.  I THINK we finished the evening 12th out of 20 – no great shame given the esteemed company.  The winners were, I THINK, a bunch of geeks from Cycle Sport, who even had t-shirts made for the occasion. Just sad.  Fortunately HOTCHILLEE’s Layla Smith was also unavailable for selection – lazing at her winter retreat – which surely spared the team an even more embarrassing fate.

So, thanks once again to Olly and Chris from IG for an inspired choice of events to signify the close of the 2011 cycling season.  And thanks to Jane for organising and motivating us on this futile task.  A very enjoyable evening spent with a great bunch.  Team HOTCHILLEE may not have troubled the scorers significantly with regard to the leaderboard – but when it came to the main event – we were there or thereabouts as Last Man Standing…and thats all that ever really matters.

*NOTE: Ian Stannard is 189 cm tall and weighs 80 kg.  He has ridden 2 Grand Tours and has won 1 race. In 2010 he raced 10,024.4 km.