The Western Time Trials Association run an annual competition called the ‘hardriders’. It’s essentially a series of at best sporting courses, and at worst; evil, uncompromising, brutal undulating parcours. The banner on the website reads ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’, which pretty much sums things up.

Some of the courses are suitable for sprinters, the hills tend to be shallower. Others are pretty nasty, with constant ups and downs. Most riders tend to go for uber-bling time trial machines, the biggest time-savings can be had from aerodynamics. this is where bike design is at its most radical, moving steadily away from the conventional diamond shape.

Today’s course went Tomarton-Marshfield-Lanhill-Castle Combe-Acton Turville-Marshfield. It had some really lumpy stuff and some very very fast sections. I rode the Condor with clip-on tribars. On the whole, i got the effort right, which may be another way of saying that i felt pretty good, and rode the 23 mile course in 59.19, coming 12th out of about 70 or so riders. I am pleased with this; especially to get in under the hour. Next week I have to repeat the endeavour in the Bath event, with the added bonus of Rebecca Romero being on the startsheet; i never ever in my wildest cycling dreams imagined that one day i would be in the same race as an olympic gold medallist. She is training for the time trial in the Olympics, having had her chosen event arbitrarily scratched from the Track programme. i’m sure switching within the same discipline won’t be quite as taxing as switching sports entirely.

the riders ahead of me in the pecking order are quite a frightening bunch; seriously fast, with seriously pornographic cycling gear. this time i managed to get slightly further down the road before being passed at a rate of knots by a swooshing disc wheel and huge-cranked cadence. i nearly didn’t get my time at all – i pinned my race number on myself (this ritual is usually done by a fellow rider, but i felt small and frightened by the wealth of talent and muscular definition on the freshly shaven legs, so opted to pin the tail on my own donkey) – and thus made a pig’s ear of it. visibility was a problem, so when i got back there was a bit of a hoo-ha about the time, and the timekeepers, who were the loveliest, most amazing people ever, were confused. they nearly did the switcheroo with me and some lumpenmenschenfresser who turned in about 20 minutes slower. all was resolved though, and ended happily. i felt calm, but also wary that i had nearly transgressed, and it was all my own fault. i shall not make the same mistake twice.

Winter Cycling

I managed to stay in last night, thus waking up refreshed and ready to ride this morning. It was a nine o’ clock start, heading off out into the lanes with a group of like-minded fixed wheel cyclists. the weather looked promising, no real rain to speak of, and only a slight dampness to the roads from the overnight rain.

there were a few heavy showers, but the real fun started out in the lanes north of bristol. on at least four occasions the surface water was above bottom bracket height, meaning wet feet, even with neoprene overshoes. i’ve never known it so damp; the ground is saturated and everything that falls from the sky runs-off immediately and accumulates. it made for an entertaining excursion; the masochism of the winter cylist. added to this were the ridiculous number of horses everywhere (replete with fairly mardy riders, despite our generosity and respectful wide berthing) with the ironic exception of the bridlepath (steve’s idea, a muddy quagmire).

at one point we were paced by a derny bike, with an exciteable dog. club-runs like these are absolutely brilliant for seeing unexpected things; there is something fantastic about things being random. the dog seemed so very happy to see us. it made me smile a lot.

the cake stop heralded the sight of an unusual machine; the trike-tandem. can’t be cheap. pretty amazing though with an enormous ovalized and pretty flat tube along the bottom. a George Longstaff.

i regret cleaning my bike yesterday, including the wheels. it now looks like it’s been ridden by an incontinent ebola sufferer through the bog of eternal stench.

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