Back to the Graveyard

the U7B

Normal service was very much resumed today after my brave midweek excursion to the darkside of road racing. I dusted off the TT whip and skinsuit, found some matching overshoes and headed out to the U7B for the Bristol South Open 10 Mile Time Trial. I didn’t ride this event last year, i can’t quite remember why. I rode the year before and came 7th, with a 22.37. It seems like a very long time ago. It was about 24 degrees that day and i remember my mouth being all claggy afterwards from dryness and sweat. It wasn’t very nice. I seem to remember Belle sunbathed on the grass verge next to the main road whilst the mad cyclists went out and rode their bikes in the sultry afternoon heat.

I rode out today because i didn’t have the car. I always feel really odd when riding through the centre of town on a Saturday afternoon in the full TT get up. It didn’t help that i was soft-pedalling to save energy. At one point i saw another chap also in full TT regalia, disc and aero bits much in evidence. We gave each other a nod of understanding. I hope so anyway, and presume that he was riding to a race as well, rather than just TTing up and down Coronation Road which would be strange indeed.

Edvald Trotman-Hagen gets ready to mash his big gear. and his legs. The man behind has no sleeves.

There was a headwind all the way there, about a 21 mile ride, but it wasn’t too bad so i felt optimistic about the race. I knew on paper i stood a chance of winning the event and in truth i really wanted to win. I’ve been close this season a few times, but usually the winner has been substantially faster. This time it was going to be squeaky bum time, the other fast rider was Peter Georgi who is very quick early in the season but seems to slow a bit later on. I was wondering which Peter would turn up. I resolved to ride my best race and then what happened would happen.

The headwind wasn’t enough to knock me off my stride. It becomes a question of mental fortitude when there’s a bit of a headwind. Generally, and I am generalising, slower riders tend to allow moderate headwinds to get on top of them. The quicker riders just ride though it, dig a bit deeper and hold the big gear, knowing that the turn offers salvation and respite and a much more rapid experience. It’s strategic thinking. i rode quite hard to the turn and knew that i could make time up on the way back, which is precisely what happened: 27mph to the roundabout and 30mph back, including the climbs. I nailed a 21.22, a couple of seconds away from my PB set last year and pretty good given the conditions. I then had a nail-biting few minutes waiting for Peter’s time to go up on the board. I beat him by ONE SECOND. i was speaking to Ed afterwards – who had upped the gear inches and suffered a bit because of the wind and the hill and having no bail-out gear – and we talked about the need to concentrate all the way through, to not let the mind drift and the speed tail off slightly. A ten is such a short event, comparatively, that you have to smash it all the way. Whenever i try to pace it things tend to go wrong. When i just go out and ride as hard as i can things seem to go right. The latter was in evidence today. I feel chuffed to bits to get the win, but also feel really pleased that it came in a Bristol South CC event. We took the team prize with Sam and Danny turning in quick times. There were 18 club members of the startsheet. Just a few years ago you’d be lucky to get 4 or 5 riders. On a slightly separate note, i was wearing my BSCC skinsuit. it’s seen better days. today the zip got stuck and i had to pin it shut at the top before riding. I then couldn’t get it undone and had to cut myself out of it when i got home. It was that or just keep it on all night ready for tomorrow’s race.

The nature of progress and hard work is a very strange thing. It’s incremental and you make the gains over time, sometimes without noticing. But right now, having read back the previous post linked above, i feel aware of the progress i have made in 2 short years. If you’d told me after my ride in May 2010 that i would be winning the event in 2012 i would have laughed long and hard.

And finally… the BSCC 10 is also a counting event for the Classic League. I get handicapped to DEATH in these events. This is a good thing, it makes the contest wide open and ensures those who improve and keep improving get a shot at the trophy. But as a demonstration of the level of handicap for the scratch rider, see the photo below.

Andy Capp.

In order to win the classic league today, beating George Keene and defeating the mysteries of the chairman’s handicap system, i would have to have ridden a competition record for 10 miles. And not just a comp record, but a long 16, which equates to a 35mph ride and is about a minute quicker than Wiggins. ON THE U7B. Maybe in two years time i’ll link back to this post and laugh…

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