Fast “10” Courses

there aren’t that many fast ten courses in the UK. conditions differ and some have draggy bits, others are just a total horror show with umpteen roundabouts and a fricken massive hill. there are a few that are out-and-out quick, including one near Hull where at a recent promotion, the first 29 riders went under 20 minutes. that’s bigger than some fields we get on the u7b, the slowest of slow courses, but one that i like because it’s so needlessly out of sorts with the rapidity of the sport.

the quickest course in the southwest used to be the p613 near bournemouth, but it’s now gone – like so many other courses, interrupted by traffic lights. arguably, this leaves the u47, a quite full-on bit of dual carriageway in wiltshire. you race on the a419 between cirencester and cricklade, it’s not that scenic, unless cycling in close proximity to an articulated lorry is your idea of a day out, but it is pretty flat and the surface is really glassy which makes it super. it’s finished in a noisy concrete which is ideal for high pressure bike tyres, i’m sure that’s what the navvies had in mind when they laid the road.

i rode it today and was hoping for a new personal best; in the back of my mind i wanted to go under 21 minutes, despite this being a minute quicker than my season’s goal. it certainly felt attainable. i won the club classic league on wednesday with an 11.03 and an 11.11 on a (2 x 5.3mile) lumpy course with a viscious headwind on the way back, so felt the potential was clearly there. Today however, on the way in the car i could see the trees moving in the breeze and at one point saw some flags at a petrol station being frisked by the callous fingers of the wind. it wasn’t much to speak of, but it made me really irritable and showed the potential hubris of chasing fast times: there is no accounting for the capricious nature of the english weather. i needn’t have been unduly worried, in the end i lacerated my PB again, somehow, and made it under the magical 21 minute mark with a 20.52, so am very happy. i also claimed some noteable scalps in the weird and frightening world of timetrialling. incidentally, stu dodd who won is a national champion and recently rode an 18 something, so i’m quite pleased to have not been too far down on his time of 19.28.

i’m not sure what happens next this season. i have a few more events on the u47 in the next couple of weeks, so hopefully i can sustain this run of form and maybe even speed things up a bit more. other than that i suspect i may be eyeing up faster machinery before too long. it’s the terrible, nefarious effect of the pursuit of marginal gains.

with this time i could have comfortably qualified for the national ten mile championship. however, entries have closed, which is a shame, because it’s not often you get the chance to ride against bradley wiggins. although i say ‘against’ when i really mean ‘in the same race in terms of logistics, but not reality’. bradley wiggins’ PB for a ’10’ is 17.57, which is an average speed of 33.4mph. in comparison, today i managed 28.8mph. i’m no mathematician, but i think if i rode a really really really quick course he’d still beat me. but i might be only 10% slower. it is such small things from which i can draw a slice of comfort, and in the world of the bigger gorilla, wiggins and hutchinson are the the silverbacks.

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