Cycling in Circles Around Chew Valley Lake

Chew Valley Lake is a popular circuit for training; it’s relatively near Bristol for one thing and you can nip down, do as many laps as you want to get to the relevant distance, then nip back again. It’s an undulating circuit which adds an element of difficulty. The only issue is getting there and back involves chew hill and dundry, two of the more beastly ascents north of the Mendips.

The Classic League uses the lake for the bulk of the summer months and on Wednesday i managed to make it back down for the first time this season. In my last ride of last year i scraped under the 19 minute barrier with an 18.59, which works out at a 26mph average. ┬áThis year i aimed to improve it by a little bit. It wasn’t a particularly fast evening, there was a minor headwind for a bit then cross with a nice tailwind section that helped keep the speed up. The course is short, only 8.3 miles. However, with the hills it’s a curious effort to judge, there is around 300ft of climbing crammed in. This doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s definitely a sporting course.

You have to stay resolutely focused and make sure that at every turn of the pedals you are putting through as much power as you can. There is no room for any drift, those points in the race where your mind wanders and you start thinking about dinner, or where those things might have got to that you are sure you left in the bike tool box but have now disappeared. It’s a tough one, but i managed it. After about 6 miles i realised i was on for a pretty quick time and should go under 19 minutes without too much bother, so i stepped on the gas, but I also eased off on the deadly corners in bishop sutton, and still had enough to stop the clock at 18.25, shaving 34 seconds off last year’s PB. I managed to bag 18 points in the handicap competition because i’d put so much daylight between me and the other riders, in this case beating Andy Legge into second by around 45 seconds. It’s my biggest points tally in ages and it didn’t even need a comp record. I was 15 seconds off the course record set by Rob Pears (who else?) about 6 years ago.

This weekend is the Bristol South CC Road Race. I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t nervous and anxious about this race. I have very little road race experience and also have a 100% crash record. I haven’t raced at a distance over 34 miles yet this year and rarely do more than 18 miles in training. The race is about 55 miles. It does have 8 ascents of Stowey Hill though, which is sure to test the legs. I’m currently undecided as to whether to ride the C-Bomb or the ‘Austin Allegro-Brown Condor’, as Simon Williams recently called it. The Condor is making funny noises, again. I’m thinking that it’s going to be the C-Bomb. It’s what it’s designed for, after all.

On a different note, several generations of the Keene clan were out in force on account of it being George’s 80th birthday. George is an inspiration to all at the club and has been riding for just about all of his 80 years. His name is on several of the club cups from the 1950s right through to the present. And he is still riding.

George Keene: Legend
i’m undecided as to whether the drag of the balloon is counteracted by the elevating properties of the helium

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