R25/3L: Fastest 25 Course in Christendom

The R/25 in Wales is universally seen as the fastest 25 course in the country. the national records for men and women have been set there, 45.54 by Dave McCann and 50.01 by Julia Shaw. Next week the last event of the season for the course has attracted a ludicrously strong field, to the extent that entries closed on a 55. This means that if you haven’t ridden a 25 at over 27mph in the past three years, then you can’t get in. Chitchat on the interweb has been asking the question if there has ever been a faster event. I’m riding, and have been seeded on a ‘7’, which means essentially that i’m in the bottom half of the field (just). today’s event was less rapid because the big hitters were at the British Time Trial Championships.

I  discovered just how fast the course is today. Despite being off the bike for a while and only just getting some form back, and being a bit over my racing weight, and training for hillclimbs more than flat events (get your excuses in early), i sliced 45 seconds from my PB and managed a 52.14. In truth, i was a tiny bit disappointed, i think there is a 51 there on the right day. i struggled with a headwind for about 7 miles or so and it dented my time a little bit. Interestingly (or not) i rode to the same sort of figures as i had been earlier in the season, although this meant i was riding harder because i’ve upped the max HR on the garmin. In reality, i’m not sure i was all that much quicker than i was on the u46. My fitness is slightly below what it might have been 8 weeks ago, but clearly not hugely far adrift. In reality, i came 10th in a very strong field, so am pleased with that.

The winning time was about a 49, so i wasn’t far off. Alec Baskaya managed a 50.12 (or thereabouts), which is a staggering ride and testament to his hard work and willpower. We’ve both got startlingly quicker this year, but Alec has now left me miles behind. Jeff Jones also rode, he came 2nd, barely a week after setting a new competition record for the 12 hour with 306 miles. George Keene from Bristol South turned in a 1.09, at the age of 75. Crazy feats of epic cycling.

One of the reasons why the R25/3L is scarily quick is because the first 3 or 4 miles contain quite a bit of downhill, including one hairy bit of dual carriageway, but the route finishes before you climb back up, with a slightly longer outwards leg. This is what you might call a ‘gift course’. It is also referred to as ‘the welsh ski-slope’, or more simply ‘that course’. The danger is, as mentioned yesterday, that it simply isn’t comparable with anywhere else, and is solely a PB course. Once you’ve bagged a fast time on the R25, there is no other option but to return in the hope that it might be improved, because it’s absolutely not going to happen anywhere else. I shall see if i can improve it next weekend…

you can see i was in zone 5 for all of it, bar the shouting. this is my new approach to time trialling that i’ve worked out over the season. when i ride as fast as i possibly can without cracking, and don’t let it slip, and try not to change out of the 53:11, i tend to turn in a good time. after developing pacing with the advent of my garmin earlier in the season, i now seem to have reverted to some old-fashioned PLF. or, just mullering it for as long as possible.

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