I went to see my mum this weekend and used the opportunity to recce the hill climbs in preparation for the season. The visit also coincided, miraculously, with an open time trial run on the super fast v718 course near South Cave. What are the chances? My Mum got wind of the race and wanted to come and watch. She sometimes comes to see the hillclimbs which can be great for spectators, all that gurning and pain. I pointed out that in this case there really wouldn’t be a lot to see, at all. She’d have to stand on a bridge over the dual carriageway just to watch the riders go round a big roundabout. It’s not that edifying a spectacle. She thought better of it.
The event was run by Team Swift with no prizes and all the money going to the charity. Last week, one of their longstanding club members, Lenny Grayson, was killed by a car whilst taking part in a 100 mile trial. I spoke to Allen of Team Swift after the event to offer my condolences. By all accounts, there is a Lenny in every club, someone relentlessly chipper and enthusiastic, keen to do anything and everything for the sport and for their peers, someone committed to the simple art and pleasure that can be derived from riding and racing bicycles. The event was a fitting tribute.
Last time i rode the course, a couple of weeks ago, i managed a 19.49. The experience was a bit of a novelty. Rolling down onto the main road i kept thinking ‘holy shit it’s fast, this course is fast, i’m going really fast here’, and then when i crossed the line i remember thinking ‘oh my god that was so fast i’ve done a 19, holy shit’. It was all a bit of a rush of excitement. This time there was a form of pressure because i knew the course, even on a non-float day, had the capacity to be pretty kind.
There’s a shared understanding that the course is at its fastest with a tailwind on the way back (apart from floatilicious days). Yesterday there was a definite headwind back which dented times a bit. I say ‘dented’, the times being recorded were absolutely ridiculous. This has more to do with the calibre of the field. Every single rider on a 5 or 10 in a field of 120 – so that’s the 24 fastest riders – had a PB of under 20 minutes. The event closed on a 21.30. On the way to the start i saw a rider on a ‘9’ and got to thinking what his normal number would be in a typical race, run without some of the fastest guns in all the land; probably a 2 or even a 1. By some quirk of fate, i was allocated a ‘O’, making me one of the faster riders on paper. I definitely felt the pressure, but also felt quite chuffed to be wearing a 10 in such a prestigious event.
My legs were still feeling the effects of the week’s exertions, but I was confident that once racing i’d be ok and aspired to set a PB, which would mean also lowering the club record. I went off pretty hard, possibly too hard, making it to the turn in about 9.30 or thereabouts which suggested a 19 was definitely on. The way back was hard. In fact, it was much harder than I would have liked, with my speed dropping into the wind and up the draggy sections. I still crossed the line in 19.42, taking 7 seconds off my previous effort, which is nice. One thing was apparent: sustaining 30 miles per hour for 20 minutes is very hard work, regardless of how quick the course appears to be.
Back at the HQ the times were being put up on the board. It was a chastening experience, i’ve never ridden in an event with such a startling array of fast people. Rob Pears carded an 18.44, amongst 4 other 18s, one of which was an 18.16. There were around 10 or so other 19s. I think i might have just scraped into the top 20. But that’s only a part of the narrative. This chap rode:
Michael Hutchinson has just been called up to the Northern Ireland team to race the World Championships in September. I think he’s pretty much established as the greatest time triallist the sport has ever seen in this country and if there was any doubt, he probably buried that today. ‘Hutch’ won the event with a 17.45, a new national competition record by about 7 seconds. Bradley Wiggins’ PB is a 17.57 i think. It was a phenomenal ride.