C+CCC Hilly ’23’

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.

Unlike Ed’s bike, this one really is for popping to the shops

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).

Let Them Eat Cake!

Almost exactly two years ago i took to the startline for my third ever time trial, the Rudy project event run by Bath CC. There were cakes for prizes and the field was stacked with scary men and women sitting astride a range of scary bicycles and riding them at obscene speeds. I came 16th in the seniors on my Condor Acciao with TT extensions. I had a set of veloce wheels and averaged 21mph. i was optimistic that i could improve, firstly by spending a shedload of hard-earned cash on aero-erotica, and secondly by doing some proper training. those first few races were quite telling, the best placing i achieved that year was in the Dursley ‘mega’ hilly, a tidy 7th.

i rode the Bath event again today, and so did Alec. The course record prior to today’s event was a 57.48. I went off early and got back to the HQ after 57 minutes and 55 seconds of suffering, average around 24.8mph. I was pleased to get within 7 seconds of the CR, but fully expected both Alec and Rob to smash it to pieces on a balmy day matched perfectly to the sport of cycling. They didn’t disappoint, Alec turned in a 56.22 and Rob a 56.51. It was a quick day. I also improved on last year’s time by a full 4 minutes. I was particularly pleased to beat Ben Anstie who is a very accomplished rider and someone who i’ve never got anywhere remotely near in the past. He is a nice chap and it was his birthday, so i felt a bit bad. and he’s been ill. But what the hell, cycling is a brutal sport for hardmen, he knows the drill. If you’re worried about losing on your birthday then don’t have a birthday.

The gains have come about in 24 short months. after making huge strides last year i genuinely didn’t expect to be making similar, if not more pronounced, improvements this year. i think it’s an accumulation of various things, rather than the proverbial magic bullet. maybe i’ll list them in a future post.

The cakes were extra-special. Alec bagged the chocolate one which we were all eyeing up. Rob took an apricot number and i went for a cranberry sponge cake. It is very tasty. my eye was first taken by a smutty looking piece of ‘scottish parkin’, but i didn’t know what parkin was and suspected that the scottish element might be lard, or irn bru, maybe some tennants super, so i erred on the side of caution. Penny Gardiner bagged it for being first lady and apparently it was very tasty. Giles Oakley rode well to take 10th place and i’m sure he’s had a small slice or too.

I’m now taking a bit of a break (apart from a midweek circuit thing) and will be missing the next WTTA event. I have a prior event lined up this Saturday, sign-on is at 3pm. It’s perhaps best suited to a tandem, starting the journey with a partner for support, rather than the solo steed. I’m really excited.

Here are some photos from today:

this is what a course record looks like
village hall
alec went for the smuttier-than-thou chocolate
to the victor, the spoils



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