I like the initials of the Cheltenham and County Cycling Club. Today they hosted the first hardrider in a little while on a 2 lap circuit in the Cotswolds. The loop started off very very quickly and ended very very slowly with a long drag up to the finish. My fastest speed was 51mph which is, as my Dad used to day, PDQ. This means ‘pretty darned quick’ in Dadspeak.
Today’s big gorillas were Matt Clinton, erstwhile National Hillclimb Champion with a host of other garlands to his name, and Ben Anstie of Cadence Cannondale, gearing himself up for the National 10 mile Championship next weekend. I was hoping, possibly, that the hilly bits might give me a shout of claiming Ben’s scalp for the second time this season, but would also settle for 3rd. I accepted the fact that Matt was likely to win, barring some strange deus ex machina. Matt is a class rider, and generally a cut above us mere mortals. He is all sinew and bike muscle.
The roads around Temple Guiting were really bad, strewn with potholes that claimed a number of victims through unscheduled deflations and at least one expensive looking disc wheel catastrophe. I made round in one piece, just. At one point whilst in the tuck, descending at about 40mph, I hit a lump of something and my elbows momentarily left the pads and the front wheel left the ground. At about the same time i felt a wave of sudden fear and alarm, but it all came back together nicely and I clung on.
Today was painful, on the second lap my legs were starting to complain and I felt the lactic build up from two hard efforts in two days. I tried to stay focused and keep riding as fast as I could. Fatigue began to set in, but this was at least partly caused by the fact that i decided to go off at a ‘ten’ pace and then just carry on. This is the strategy that works best for me. I figured i could rest on the downhill bits and let my heartrate drop slightly. I caught my minute man within about 3 miles or so, if that. He was riding a folding bike, for which i applaud him, sort of. With his 104″ vs my 129″ there was only ever going to be one winner in the battle of the bikes.
The headwind up the last long climb meant it was a slower day than last year. However, i went quicker, by around 45 seconds, and somehow managed a dead heat with Ben Anstie for a share of 2nd place. It’s a really tough course with around 2000ft of climbing in some nasty bundles, so I’m pleased with the outcome and also with managing to get a 23mph average.
It was a good weekend and the sunshine made a profound difference, both yesterday and today. This week heralds a new challenge on the bike. I am nervous, but I am going to ride as hard as I possibly can. No change there then. (apart from the other day on the first bit of the r25, but i’m burying that in the dark recesses of my subconscious).