The WTTA Hardriders series is something i write about periodically, usually in the aftermath of another savagely undulating time trial in the middle of the countryside somewhere. It’s a set of about 13 events across the season, starting in early March and finishing with the BSCC hill climb in late October. Points are awarded for each race, with 120 for the win. Your 6 best scores become your counting events and there are prizes for the overall at the end of the year. Last year I was 4th overall with 705 points out of a possible 720. This year, i’ve managed to accumulate 717 points so far, 3 short of the maximum, which puts me firmly into 2nd place in the district. Unfortunately, a win is out of the question because Rob Pears has 720 points already and there aren’t enough events left to catch him, which i couldn’t do anyway because he’s too fast.
It’s a brilliant series and about as far away from chasing fast times on dual carriageways as the sport can be. Courses are testing, hilly and often very scenic. They attract a real range of competitors and there is a greater sense of camaraderie amongst those foolish enough to line up and take part. This year the first event, Chippenham, created a sort of ‘blitz’ spirit; it was the most brutal event I have ever ridden in my life.
Today was the Minehead Hardrider, organised by Peter Whitfield, an eminent cycling historian and all round good egg. Last year i rode and managed to obliterate the course record and the rest of the field, lapping everyone. It helped that i was riding the TT weapon and everyone else was on road bikes. It also helped that no-one else quite as fast had entered. In simple terms, it was a chipper, but a brilliant race nonetheless and I was delighted to get my first open win. I was on form that weekend and rode well. This year, having become part of the series, it featured a heck of a lot more aero-bongo than one solitary bike and skinsuit. The locals, out in force to support (which was really grand and very impressive) were quite excited by the aero-smut. They gazed longingly at Dan’s Trek Speed Concept, and felt the carbon fibre with an inquisitive fingertip along the top-tube.
I had a series of goals. I would like to have won, but this meant i would have to vanquish the mighty and all-powerful Robin Coomber who has been riding his TT bike this year verily like he hath stolen it and is in need of a rapid escape. I wanted also to squeak inside my course record, which would be academic if Robin smashed it to pieces, but still vaguely satisfying because it would be a PB. I managed to slice a gargantuan 2 seconds off my previous time, carding a 1.05.26 (ish?). Robin said he had turned in a 58. This was startling. I told him his ride was ‘mind-blowing’. He has put 7 minutes into me. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how he had done this. It meant a 26mph ride over a course that twisted and turned and rose and fell as though based on George Hincapie’s Leg Brain™. I was somewhat relieved when it became apparent he had suffered some sort of garmin malfunction and actually beat me by about a minute instead.
It was a great day out on the bike. It restored some of my motivation which has been rent asunder by a combination of cheese, ale, weddings, summer holidays, watching charolais cattle in burgundy fields, more cheese, white wine and bread.