most cycling clubs run an evening ‘ten’ series from spring to autumn. they usually run on a wednesday evening, thus adding a bit of spice to midweek but not impinging on the weekend’s racing. you can guarantee that once a week, on a quieter bypass or main road near your house, a small minority of brightly-clothed men in tight-fitting clothes will be racing up to a roundabout and back, for not much more than bragging rights and possibly a trophy.
Bristol South call theirs ‘the classic league’. the first one was last night; a 5.3 mile out and back near Aust. It’s the same next week, before doubling up when the days get longer, and then moving to an 8.6 mile circuit near Chew Valley. They run an elaborate handicap system which counts back from the ‘scratch’ rider’s time, meaning that all participants are in with a shout of the trophy at the end of the season and the real fast beasts on the aero-porn rarely win the cup.
Yesterday was balmy and lovely, i commuted to work, hared it back up the hills and did some intervals on the way into bristol, emboldened by the headwind. i wolfed down some scrambled egg, donned the skinsuit and grabbed the TT weaponry, before heading out to the start. There were already several BSCC members and representatives from other clubs getting ready. I grabbed the 11 – no seeding, first come first ride, rode the course then took to the start. it was very quick on the way out, around 30mph all the way, slightly downhill with a tailwind. i made the most of it, hit the turn hard then charged back up the slope against the wind, trying my best to keep it at over 25mph, reasoning that most people would be struggling, and if i pushed a big gear i should be fine. on a side note, i am pushing much bigger gears into the wind and along draggy uphills than last year, and as a result, losing much less time. the bike sounded awesome, the disc wheel made the harmonious sound; of turbulent air being first sculpted, and then torn asunder by the lenticular dark matter, and i stayed in shape, fighting the lactic build up to the finish. it felt ok, nothing overly special, and i reasoned my form would see me right; possibly top 5, although my fatigue from the commute might count against me.
in the end, i won, both on handicap and real time. i managed 11.20 over the lumpy 5.3 mile loop, which equates to 27.5mph, or is the equivalent of a sub-22 ten mile time, and on a draggy course. i was 13 seconds quicker than the second placed rider, a healthy margin over this distance, and generally I felt pretty gobsmacked. i think the best i managed last year was around an 11.53 or something. it’s my first victory i think, and i’m really happy about it; elated even. it does unfortunately mean i will be the scratch rider for a while, or at least until dave keene kick-starts his season.