Winter refuses to let go this year. I seem to remember this time last year we were basking in temperatures of around 20 degrees. Maybe it was a collective dreamwish. Today was in the realm of minus something. The wind chill was unspeakably revolting. I had intended to put in a ‘DNS (apol)’, but opted to ride under the hypothesis that any riding is good riding and if i didn’t ride in the morning at the race i wouldn’t be riding later.
I wore two pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of overshoes (one thin, one thick), full tights under my skinsuit (double pad effect quite comforting on the rough roads), 2 base layers and a winter waterproof gilet worn UNDER my skinsuit. I looked like Lisa Reilly by the time i’d made it to the start and was still frozen to the core. It left me feeling physically insulated and slightly restricted in my movements. I’d have been better off wearing a blobby suit.
The windchill factor of about – 54 degrees meant we were operating in less than optimal conditions. If i was a space shuttle my O-rings would have experienced catastrophic failure and right now we’d be in the early stages of a presidential commission into the tragedy.
I struggled round, not that manfully. The first section has an ‘out-and-back’ of about 5 miles before the first climb proper. Somewhere along the main road i saw Rob Pears warming up – in shorts. There’s something literally and semantically implausible about warming up in shorts. He had the thinnest of skinsuits on. He may as well have taken to the tarmac in bodypaint.
The course takes in a fairly nasty climb up the Mere. In previous years i’ve barrelled up there, all bluster and big ring. This year i stuck it in the granny and climbed like a bag of spanners being lobbed up a staircase. The headwind refused to abate. I was extremely cautious on the descents and anything that looked slightly damp. Several others were off the pace, including the mighty Ben Anstie, now riding for Cycology Bikes.
I made it back to the HQ in one piece, taking home £30 and a cake for my 3rd place. Several other riders looked suitably traumatised. Our glorious chairman sought solace in tea and cake. Mary-Jane was pleased just to finish. Rob had a catastrophic nosebleed so had to stop. It was that kind of day.