Ronde Van Suttonbengeren

Today was the Tour of Flanders, the first of the proper Belgian monuments. Watching Fabian Cancellara’s attack on the Oude Kwaremont was slightly terrifying; he had a dig, tested the waters then put the afterburners on, in the process dispensing with the fearsomely badass Peter Sagan as though he was a cyclo-tourist out shopping for croissants. Peter Sagan is such a fearsome badass that he regularly wheelies over the finish line just to show how sick to the power of rad he is. Cancellara had other ideas.

At one point Cancellera was doing over 50kmh on the run-in to Oudenarde. On a road bike. Jez from Strada Cycles told me Cancellara would win but i didn’t believe him. Jez was right. Jez knows cycling; there is documentary evidence of him with Lance Armstrong back in the day discussing important matters. Anyway, I digress. Cancellera’s blitztastic assault on the field at the end of a 250km race was unnerving and made several classy riders look ordinary.

This morning I took part in the WTTA Spring Hilly, so named on account of the balmy conditions and floral bouquet from the daffodils swaying gently in the jetwash of another screaming disc wheel. Or so I wished. Instead I found myself yet again riding gingerly and spending far too much time on the base bar, avoiding the ice or anything that might possibly be considered to be remotely slippery or icy. Whilst forsaking the gilet-under-skinsuit trick from last week, i still managed to ride with 2 pairs of gloves and lots of other layers.

Jeff Jones and Rob Pears fought it out at the top of the leaderboard. In the slightly esoteric and calming world of the Western Time Trials Association, where friendship and camaraderie take precedence over egotism and 5th Cat going on Elite posturing, it’s easy to forget that Jeff and Rob are two of the finest and fastest testers anywhere in the land. I settled for 5th place, behind several erstwhile rivals and have to be content and optimistic that faster times and higher placings might be just around the corner. I shall stick with it. Watching Cancellara pedal faster on a road bike at the end of an epic stage than I’ve ever managed in a flat 10 astride a slice of aerobongo made me feel inadequate.

The highlight of today’s event was the presence of John Woodburn. It’s always an honour to catch up with one of the greatest living time triallists in the UK. He comes from the golden generation, along with other luminaries like Alf Engers and John Pritchard. Today he gave out the prizes for last year’s hardrider competition where I managed second place behind the all conquering Rob Pears. In 1982 John Woodburn managed the LEJOG in 1 day, 21 hours, 3 minutes and 16 seconds. It makes me feel unwell just thinking about it. He also rode the 162 miles from London to Cardiff in 6 hours 44 minutes, setting a new place-to-place record. On a Moulton.

Time Trialling Legend… and some bloke in a grey fleece leaning on a car

Rudy Project National TT Series

I can’t quite remember what my reasons were for entering this event, I think it was because i thought it was a WTTA Hardriders parcours,which it was, and i conveniently ignored the fact that some of the leading time triallists in all the land would be tearing it up on their technologically crazed carbon steeds.

the course was near Frome, and went up a particularly abhorrent hillock near Mere, as well as several other nasty, brutish and long ascents. the effect was magnified by the omnipresent headwind – especially in the last 4 miles where it became almost soul-destroying and utterly rhythm shattering.

these are some of the riders who turned up:

matt bottrill, the winner in a stupidly quick 57.04

sarah storey;

and of couse, rebecca romero.

only eight riders went under the hour; sarah storey gave rebecca romero a bit 0f a pasting – three minutes up; i was precisely three minutes adrift of the olympic gold medallist. it was a really tough day in the saddle; it hurt a lot; my chain came off and wouldn’t go back on, then it got stuck in the big ring; lost about 4o seconds right there. it’s all a part of the rich tapestry of  ‘the race of honesty’. one of the most awe-inspiring results was in the vets category; John Woodburn completed the course in 1.11, just over 20mph. John is 73; admittedly a former national champion, but 73!

in the mens seniors/espoirs race I came 16th in 1.06.51; this is a little bit disingenuous, because a lot of the vets, some of the women, a fistful of the whippet-thin juniors and at least three of the disabled riders were all quicker than me. of the field of about 140 in total, i came 35th. i am very pleased and am now making firm plans to go totally aero. i may even ride another rudy project, although not the next one, the hutch is riding.

the prizes were cake – i nearly forgot – which was apt, because belle drove me to the start and back, and she makes the best cakes ever. she got to see some serious lycra smut for her troubles.

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