The Hardest Ride of All

today was the Dursley Hardriders WTTA 28 mile time trial.

i say ‘time trial’ in the loosest possible sense of the word; it’s more a savage assault, with each rider being brutalised by 5 filthy, evil climbs in the cotswolds. the race even starts on a steep ascent, the pusher cackles audibly and off you go – and with a ‘note to self’ i must remember if i ever do this parcours again to not start in the big ring.

this was the sales pitch from the organiser:

“Last year just three riders averaged better than 20 mph on a course including four severe climbs. Riders were typically 7-8mph slower than their Line 2 times. This year the finish of the course includes a final climb up the awesome Stouts Hill! So that’s five climbs, three of which have been used as Dursley RC club hill climbs. One thing’s for sure, this CTT event will again have the “slowest” winning time of the year”

this pretty much sums it up; hill climbs are designed to destroy all but the most psychotic of riders. they are events that employ catchers.

and this event had three hill-climb courses, and two other hills that are worthy of hill-climb courses. in other words, perfect! hurrah for hills! i have been anticipating this event for weeks, in the hope that i might be able to get a good result here, but telling myself not to get too excited, to dampen down any expectation. this became more important after last week, when i thought i rode well but managed a paltry 18th place at the Swindon event. (Although i did manage a 22.54 ten mile TT the day before, which was a bonus. anyway, back to Dursley). Steve and James, fellow BSCC riders were also riding, and they are both strong. Steve in particular royally kicked my ass up and down the slopes of Ventoux for 4 days, and James had the measure of me in the flat events of late. no pressure. i secretly harboured hopes that we might be in with a shout for the team place, with the likelihood of three fairly consistent times.

i went off hard (in the big ring, like a klutz) and sighted my minute man before the top of the climb, this gave me a boost because i knew him to be a quick rider. i had to let him go for this very reason, choosing to wait until the climbs and not try to catch him on the flat and thus blow a proverbial gasket. i took him on the next climb, he got me on the descent, until the 4th climb, whereupon i dropped him and he never got back on terms, which was pleasing; and i felt i was going well. it hurt, but i found a rhythm on each climb, using a 12-25 on the back and 53:39, i regularly found myself three cogs up, roughly in the 22 or so, apart from the last one, which really did hurt.

end result was my best placing yet, a totally thrilling (for me) 7th place, 5 minutes down on Derek Smetham who produced an astounding ride to win, but only 2 minutes down on David Kiddell in 3rd. Other firebrands included robert gough and luke dunbar, two prodigiously talented riders; Rob came 9th in last year’s National HillClimb and is a course record holder up and down the land. frightening stuff.

further success – BSCC took the team prize, which is really satisfying, with James in 9th and Steve in 13th. All in all, a fantastic day.

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