Today I rode the C+CCC open hilly time trial. it takes place in and around the scenic and beautifully named villages of Temple Guiting and Lower and Upper Slaughter, collectively known as the Slaughters, which is appropriate for an unseemly and particularly nasty race.
It’s a 12 mile loop, done twice, with two violent climbs. The first one is steep and short, coming at the end of a quick descent which makes it much worse. I hit the bottom each time at about 35mph, riding into it and crashing down through the gears, trying to find some semblance of rhythm and shape with no success. The second climb is a very long drag up to the finish line. It’s punitive and unnecessary, killing the average speed, the legs, the heart and the mind.
The field was fast, with Dean Robson, Tavis Walker, Derek Smetham and Dave Kiddell all chasing the win. I resolved to ride as hard as I could, as per usual, and hope i didn’t run out of energy or suffer from a slow, painful, lactic death. As a strategy it seemed to work, I managed to squeak in at 57.59, about 40 seconds quicker than last year. The weather was kind and I beat the next fastest rider by about 12 seconds. This isn’t very much, but it’s slightly more than last week. Tavis was third at about 18 seconds or so. I pinned his number on and he complained that I sabotaged his race by leaving it flapping in the breeze. He wanted me to pin the sides, roadie style, but i refused because I didn’t want to annoy the organiser with extra pinholes in their shiny numbers, and I’m afraid of authority. As a strategy, this also worked, the air resistance clearly impeded his otherwise serene progress.
In the immediate aftermath of the race and for much of the day I felt a bit sick. It’s one of those sorts of races, the constantly changing gradient is a challenge and it hurts to ride. All told, it clocks in at 2000 feet of climbing in the 24 miles. This is quite a lot, especially when ridden at a 24mph average speed. It was much harder than the Westbury event last weekend.
On a side note, I usually have an energy gel before a race. I am partial to the zipvit cola caffeinated ones, they taste vlle but are like rocket fuel. It’s part of the pre-race ritual, along with not warming up properly and urinating in a hedge about 24 times. Zipvit have changed the flavour from Cola to ‘smooth espresso’, so I gave it a punt. It’s absolutely disgusting; a wretched and horrible tasting item. In some small way, I can understand why ‘Cola’ might be a suitable flavour for an energy gel. It’s sugary and best consumed cold. It’s been used for sweets like ‘cola bottles’. I quite like the idea of an Espresso supped civilly in an Italian piazza with a jazzy little biscuit. However, when replaced with a lukewarm, slippery, glutinous, overly sugared packet stuffed up the leg and necked prior to a race and you have one of the worst energy gels every made. Here’s hoping the rhubarb and custard (really) and bakewell tart (also really) flavoured gels are slightly less repulsive. In the meantime I shall attempt to make my secret stash of the remaining stock of cola gels last for the rest of the season.
I have no races for a few weeks now. I shall be mostly training on hills and enjoying a short break. I may even get to finishing a longstanding project. Hopefully I’ll still have some form when it comes round to racing again on the speedfest F11/10 course.