Sporting courses (SPOCO) and hilly time trials are a staple of the early British road season. Roadies use them to build form and intensity, Testers use them for the same reason, developing endurance before moving into speedwork, and some people simply ride them because they like them. i hesitate before using the word ‘fun’, because in reality, i question whether riding at full-on pace for one hour over a hilly rural circuit can ever be described as ‘fun’. it’s certainly more interesting than flat dual carriageway circuits, and arguably safer.
the Western Time Trials Association run a yearly SPOCO competition, 12 events of varying intensity, all pretty lumpy. today was the Severn Road Club event, last week was Gillingham, next week is Bath. i found today’s event to be almost unbearably horrid; it starts with a very fast descent, before hitting a wall, a short and savage ascent, then lots more up and down, culminating in the mother of all draggy bits on a very unpleasant road surface. after about 3 miles i felt physically sick and wanted to climb off. i very nearly did, but the feeling began to abate and i rode round the best i could. a semblance of rhythm began to return eventually, but i never felt remotely in control of the pace of effort, i was oscillating wildly.
coincidentally, this event last year was my first hilly time trial. I have improved, which is nice, by 1 minute and 34 seconds; 0.7mph quicker. it’s not much. i shall get a clearer idea of improvement next week at Bath, the event last year when Rebecca Romero turned up.