my legs are currently in bits. this is the technical term for when you’ve really cooked it and they are very hurty. this is the current state of my legs. i also feel a bit full because i just ate lots of spinach and eggs and bread and quorn sausages.
today i rode out to the start of the Severn Hardrider, keeping it resolutely old school. All i needed was some wheel carriers and i would have scored maximum points. it was a 15 mile ride with a couple of big hills. i kept it slow and steady and avoided the tribars. riding out to an event is an odd experience. i left the house at around 7am, which was pretty early. i caught sight of drunks and stop-outs making their way home. i think i made for an odd image with my full TT bike and aero-helmet. I hoped to avoid any hilarious comments and also to make it to the HQ without any mechanical issues. i managed both. alec baskaya summed it up better than i can.
The Severn event is hilly, but doesn’t contain any really mammoth climbs, instead it undulates and rolls like an ocean swell with some fast descents and short, savage lumps. there is also the worst section of road in christendom, a long drag with a cratered surface, low grade tarmac and usually a nasty headwind – although not today, fortunately. on strava i have labelled this ‘the lumpy ass drag to hell’.
Again, i rode pretty much on feel, keeping an eye on how fast i was going in terms of average speed and how far there was left. this event went past in the wink of a young girl’s eye. glory days. it was over almost before it started. it hurt a lot and I felt a sense of nasty lactic build up but tried to ignore it. my fear was that it would begin to inhibit my ability to climb quickly, but it never really got to that and like i said, the race went really quickly as time and space accelerated. Everything blurred as i got a bit cross-eyed looking at my forearms and the road ahead in an attempt to keep my head down and low. it seemed to work.
the start of the course is a real up and down roller coaster, i chickened out and used the brakes. i didn’t want to do a rasmussen (in terms of technique, not in terms of drug-related geographical misinformation).
having said that, i did have an unscheduled clipless moment whilst warming up. i opted to use my super bling dura ace pedals with their carbon fibre stealth and light absorbing properties. they really grab the cleat with a resounding ‘thunk’ and don’t like to let go. i was turning slowly in the road and tried to put a foot down, they didn’t let go. i just about got out of it. luckily no-one saw so it never happened. or it didn’t make a noise. or something.
the second part of the course was super fast, a long and steady descent of around 6 or 7 miles. i maxed out at around 35mph here and really pushed the big gear. it was pretty good fun, although i was nervous about not overcooking it. i passed a few people, some of them were freewheeling. i have an opinion about this – if you’re going to freewheel in a time trial it can only be because you are descending a steep, gravelly, technical, nasty, wet, greasy and terrifying hill and need to simply control the bike to stay alive. any other freewheeling is really bad form.
i was dreading the lumpy ass drag to hell – as it shall from henceforth be known by all and sundry. in the end i stuck it in as big a gear as i could manage without my legs seizing up completely and bullied my way along this section. it was nowhere near as bad as i’d anticipated. once through this pitted canyon it was head down for the finish with a repeat of the rollercoaster bit. i didn’t touch the brakes this time and slammed it up the final climb in the big ring, squeaking across the line a little while later.
i managed a 52.34. a theme is developing here; these rides don’t feel that fast when i’m doing them, in fact, i feel like i’m going too slow and am always trying to force myself to push that bit harder. in reality, the course record for the u601 was a 52.01 from last year, which means i was within 34 seconds of it. i was thrilled to bits with this, but also knew that Rob Pears would go quicker and that this is a course that really suits him, it lacks the bigger climbs that level things out. he duly smashed the course record, coming in at a mid 51.
there were 8 Bristol South riders on the start sheet which was absolutely fantastic. A further 6 were in action at the Merryfield Circuit Race and 1 was mountain biking. The difference from last year’s events, with just me and Dan testing and Steve doing road races is startling.
Personally, it’s great to be going quicker, to be exceeding my aims and goals and to be making such vast improvements. before the start of the season i was worried that I wouldn’t or couldn’t be as quick as last year. Today’s time was a full five and half minutes quicker than last year, and 3 minutes quicker than my later time in the WTTA event on a shorter course. i am going to target a fast 25 in a couple of weeks. in the meantime, i have some other, non-cycling related aims, hopes and dreams that are coming to fruition. These are the most exciting of the lot.