Big Guns

Bristol South held an open 25 Mile time trial today near Falfield. It’s often a quietish race with about 30 or so riders and can be a good opportunity to place highly. For some reason a large field of 70 took to the start with several very quick roadmen hidden in the pack. The silver medallist at the junior National Championships in last year, Seb Baylis, looked resplendent in his Madison Genesis team kit. The team DS is one of the legendary British roadmen of the past decade, Roger Hammond. Seb emerged out of the MDCC club where Colin Lewis cracks the whip and Tiernan-Locke cut his teeth. .

Also at the sharp end was Will Bjergfelt; an international mountain biker turned roadman, now employed by MG Maxfuel and riding the tour series and premier calendar.

It’s unusual to see such established riders at a local time trial. I spoke to Will afterwards, he’s very friendly. He started to tell me about his training regime after I mentioned how i like to ride before and after work. He does the same, but with some minor differences.

My hard training day: 16 miles before work, 25 miles after with a couple of hills thrown in at a 17mph average.

Will’s hard training day: 45 miles before work, 90 miles after, up and down the Mendips and all over the place at ridiculous speeds.

I started to feel slightly unwell but i think i managed to hide my incipient queasiness. Will came past me during the race on the two lap section of the course. He was putting out the power on the flat and then easing off on the climbs before absolutely smashing it again. It was interesting to watch, i normally just annihilate myself all the way round. He turned in a 54 something, Seb Baylis did a mid 55 along with Ben Anstie, and I got pipped by one second by Richard Spink who had an awesome ride, turning in a 56.06.

The U18 is a very tough course, rolling up and down and quite exposed. I like it, but it’s a challenge and going under the hour is quite a feat. I was aiming for a 57 so felt pleased to get a PB. Perhaps I could have gone a bit harder, it’s difficult to know. Next time I’ll have to aim for a 55. All of this is rendered academic by Rob Pears’ startling 52.47. This is the sort of time people look to nail at the Welsh course, not on an undulating (800 feet of climbing), draggy, lumpen road surface near Bristol. It’s possibly the best ride I’ve seen outside of Hutch’s two comp records last year.

All in all, a very fast day. In fact, 2 and a half minutes quicker for me than when I rode there in February. I’ll settle for being within spitting distance of the professional riders.

Haytor Vale, Mamhead Hill Climbs

things really kicked off in anger this week. with all the forethought of a drunk attempting a series of impossibly ambitious dance moves, i took on a two double-headers in as many days. that’s four hillclimbs in pretty much 24 hours. yet again, hubris bites me on the ass. what the heck, it’s one of the problems with hillclimb season, there’s way too many events to choose from,  and the season is too short.

so, to haytor… which i rode last year. it’s an epic climb up the side of dartmoor, cresting out by the granite outcrop. i like it, but it’s incessantly technical, with several changes of gradient, including one section of downhill near the top. i started well, but a gathering headwind dented my time. the last section ramps up twice in swift succession and is unquestionably the hardest bit, i was all but cooked by then. in the video below you can see the peloton in the ToB round the downhill section at high speed, before suffering on the wall ahead.

i was slower than last year, which was disappointing, but managed 3rd place. Tavis Walker won with 13.58, James Dobbin was second in 14. 10 and i was 3rd in 14. 35. i managed to disrupt a potential Adeo Cadence 1-2-3-4, which was mildly satisfying. everyone was slower than last year, except Tavis, who has come out of nowhere to become a genuine title contender for the nationals in 4 weeks.

The second climb of the day was Mamhead, a much less extreme and more consistent ascent out of Starcross, lasting 2 minutes at around 6-7%. it was just the kind of gradient that holds you in limbo between the big and small ring. the course record is held by Colin Lewis, at 8.43. I managed 9.30. Colin Lewis is a bit of a local hero and inspiration to the Mid-Devon Cycling Club, as well as the wider fraternity of the wheel. I was quite surprised to see him on photo duty half way up, it’s a minor claim to fame, Colin Lewis took my photo… In the end i was second behind James Dobbin. Not hugely far behind. this gave me second on aggregate time. Maybe next year i’ll get under 14 minutes on haytor. i shall live in hope. i think i just about covered my petrol costs with the prize money.

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