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.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne vs the Severn 25

This weekend saw the opening salvo in the ‘spring’ classics with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the Saturday followed by Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on the Sunday. The weather is invariably really nasty, especially in 2011 when a really large rubbish bin blew into the road and did for Stijn Devolder. Skip to 40 seconds or so to see the aftermath.

In the event, KBK was cancelled. A gentle dusting of snow provoked fears for rider and spectator safety. Back in the day both riders and spectators would have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of an epic battle with the elements. Alas, not any longer. The myth of the Flandrian hardman has been dealt a small blow by the forces of health and safety and incessant commercialism.

LBL in 1957; only 15 hardy finishers from a field of 107

Meanwhile in Blighty, the early doors time trial season continued apace. No such cancellations here, with the Severn 25 taking place in bitterly cold weather with gentle snow flurries. To be fair, if the weather at Falfield was the same as the weather in Belgium I wouldn’t have ridden.

I rode the 20 miles to the start. It was an eye-watering 3°. I opted for some fairly full-on winter gear including a pair of giordana super roubaix leg warmers and my neoprene overshoes. On arrival i’d misjudged the time slightly, just enough to get even colder and then have to warm up again. I kept most of my winter kit on.

The U18 is a tough and demanding course. It’s not flat, by any stretch of the imagination and riddled with potholes, much like any road surface in the UK. There is a line of craters at one of the turns that has been there for the past 4 years. It used to be a row of small recesses, but with each passing winter they’ve deepened and become more challenging. The marshalls on the corner are issued with a rope ladder and winch to extricate any unfortunate racers. A nasty headwind put paid to any ambition for a fast time; only the last 4 miles were what might be regarded as ‘quick’ and it came as a relief after 21 miles of nihilistic struggling in the bitter north-easterly.

Times were slow; even slower than usual, with the exception of Rob Pears who carded a 55.16. I came 4th, about 8 seconds adrift of 3rd and a further 45 seconds away from 2nd. I’m pleased with my efforts, again, it’s the same as last year. even though the time is slower everything else seems the same; the difference between me and the others, the comparison with riders of similar speeds. It was a great day in terms of training, even if it was absolutely freezing cold and hard to get excited or motivated. When it’s really cold it’s just too difficult. All told, I managed around 70 miles for the day.

Next week is the Chippenham Hardrider. If it looks like it’s going be anything like it was last year I’ll be using a cape and wearing nine pairs of gloves.

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