VTTA ’25’ Championship 26/7/15

When I heard the 2015 VTTA Championship was to be held of the famous ‘cheatie’ course in South Wales in July 2015, I was obviously interested. Not only was this an opportunity to ride on what may well be the fastest ‘25’ course in the country, but it would be an opportunity to visit ‘Grumpy’ Art Vanderlay (aka Gerry) in the summer, with the attendant good weather not usually seen when I usually race 2-up in March.

Oh, how well-laid plans fail. The drive over on Friday was horrid, with masses of traffic, really bad weather and it took 6 hours. Saturday was some kind or compensation – we had nice weather for a jaunt out to the Welsh National Botanic Gardens followed by watching the Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France.

Unfortunately the weather for the R25/3L on Sunday morning was completely awful. In the end Gerry decided not to ride, and of 150 on the start sheet (plus reserves), only 57 finished the event. It was very windy – 22mph plus 35mph gusts –  but also very wet and cold. Quite ridiculous for an event in the last weekend in July.

Gerry, having decided not to ride, kindly took me round for a second recce of Neath Bank before returning me to the start. Somewhat dubiously I rode to the start. Off I went, and almost immediately got blown so suddenly I felt my bike was moving sideways. Composing myself after that burst of adrenalin, I carried on across the industrial estate roundabout. I managed to miss the subtle left pointing arrow at the next roundabout and almost didn’t make the turn onto the A465 (there wasn’t a marshal).

Then it was on to the famous Neath Bank. I have to confess I took this cautiously, maxing at about 43mph. But I thought this was sensible. The rid out to the next turn was reasonably quick. I saw Gerry on the roadside trying to take a picture with his phone. Fortunately I’m quite familiar with the turn, as the Port Talbot Wheelers’ 2-up event turns there – it’s quite a confusing turn, and there was a multitude of signage but only a single marshal.

We’d expected the wind to provide a bit of assistance after the Aberdulais turn. Sadly, this turned out not to be the case, and I had a bit of a grind to the finish with a nagging headwind for most of it.

I finished with 56:15 (+12:50), and I was reasonably happy with that, given the conditions.

We then dashed back to get cleaned up and drive out to our favourite local restaurant, Y Polyn, for a slap up feed that pretty much made me soporific for the rest of the day!

Result at the VTTA website.

 

Brogborough ’10’ 22/7/15

After the Norlond ‘10’ a week and a half earlier, I was optimistic that I’d have a good ride in this evening club event, especially since the conditions were really rather good! Unfortunately, an encounter with a car at the mid-way Marston Moretaine roundabout delayed me a bit, and left me in a state of disarray!

I really struggled during this event and finished with 22:27. Even taking the incident at the roundabout into account, I didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders!

Still, I had high hopes for the weekend’s VTTA ‘25’ Championship.

Results at the NBRC website.

Stony ‘11.4’ 15/7/15

We had a nice evening for this event, in contrast to my ride to work on the P5 through pretty damp conditions. I also picked up a flint that penetrated my front tyre. I booted the tyre while at work, and got it reasonably inflated before riding out to Stony Stratford for the evening’s time trial. I arrived to find quite a few riders lined up to sign on – in total we had 15 riders.

I found the outbound leg tough as usual – but I thought my speed was even slower than usual, especially on the climb to Nash. Anyway, once through Nash, things picked up a little, and certainly after the turn I felt pretty good. It was a bit irritating therefore to be stopped by a car backing out of a drive and then sitting stationary in the road. I passed this car (the driver said something to me as I passed, but I couldn’t catch it) and quickly got up to speed.

I roared down the hill to Beachampton at a pretty good lick, before coping with the turns, rough surfaces and generally draggy sections of the course and finishing. I ended up with 27:11, to take the win this evening. I was left wondering if I’d have sneaked a long 26 had I not been delayed by that car!

Results (at the NBRC website)

 

Norlond ’10’ F15/10 11/7/15

This open ’10’ was on the by now familiar F15/10 Brogborough course. I rode out to the HQ in the Marston Social Club in plenty of time. I was planning on wearing one of my skinsuits modified with a NoPinz number pocket, so I took the skinsuit in a backpack along with my aerohat. It was quite clear on the ride out that the time trial would be affected by a headwind on the return leg (and, of course, would benefit from a tailwind on the way out).

Having got my number sorted in my skinsuit, I changed into it and set out for the start. I arrived, as usual, ridiculously early and after a quick circuit of Brogborough I decided to hang around at the start. The pusher-off was pretty good – using a single hand he very effectively held me upright and set me off well.

Off down the opening descent, and I quickly got up to a decent speed. The only awkward bit was when passing the underpass, I was buffeted by a gust of wind. That dealt with, I pressed on. I noticed a couple of people standing in a layby with what appeared to be a tripod, and assumed they were photographing riders. I tried to hold my stomach in so as not to look too corpulent. I held speeds of over 30mph for much of the way to the turn, slowing only to negotiate the Marston Moretaine roundabout, which can be a little tricky.

Unfortunately, once round the turn, things took a turn for the worse, with a nagging headwind. I tried dropping the gears and spinning but just found my speed falling, so racked back up the cassette and ground it out. Past the Marston Moretaine roundabout and I was just counting out the distance and trying to estimate when I’d get to the finish line. I passed the two ‘photographers’ and realised they were Tony and Lou (Tony had a nasty prang on Thursday and wound up in hospital with cracked ribs and pelvis – what I thought was a tripod was his crutches!).

I finished in 22:07, which is my fastest ride on the F15/10. I was pretty pleased with that! Back at the HQ, I had a nice chat with Tony and Lou before retiring for a cup of tea and a cake. Then I was off home.

Astwood ’20’ 8/7/15

This event was the club’s time trial championship, and as usual was held over two laps of the Astwood circuit. As for the other events on the course, we used the revised version that starts and finishes near the BikeBus cafe (and most recently modified to start further from houses).

The evening was pretty nice and warm, not so hot as it was for last week’s event. Unfortunately the wind seemed to get up rather a lot, which gave me some concerns. When I reached the signing on about half an hour before the start, I was surprised to find myself signing on as number 18 – clearly a good turnout! In fact we had 21 riders, at least one of whom was riding a time trial for the first time. As an aside, the North Bucks Road Club are planning a third “Come and try it” time trial in August, as this year we seem to have managed publicity more effectively!

Anyway, after indulging in a little banter with #15 (the first timer – talk of crashes etc didn’t seem to put him off!), I lined up and away I went. I’ve long felt that having the climb to Astwood fairly early in the course is better than having it at the end, and especially so in two lap events. I made a reasonably brisk start then settled onto the tri-bars. In fact on the evening I had very little of the expected twitchiness from the wind, event roaring down the descent prior to the climb to Astwood on the tri-bars. I took the climb quite conservatively, even dropping below 15mph. I got a little slowed by a 4×4 driver riding through Astwood, but that probably helped me recover from the climb.

There was something of a headwind out to Chicheley, but event that didn’t seem to bad, and I stayed in a good aero position all the way up the rise and through Chicheley to the turn. In fact I held the aero position throughout the event, only coming off the tri-bars for the sharpest turns. I came past the the finish line feeling pretty good, and also feeling confident. The second lap was pretty much the same as the first. Indeed, this was one of the more consistent two lap events I’ve ridden at Astwood.

I finished in 49:06 (my second fastest ride on this course I can find in my notes) to take 2nd place (1st place on veteran standard and the fastest NBRC first claim rider). The event was won by Richard Golding (Equipe Velo) with a fine 47:43. Then I retired to the BikeBus for a well-earned capuccino, which I drank sitting out on the decking. A very civilised way to organise a club time trial, I’d say!

Results (at the NBRC website)

Stoke Hammond ’10’ 1/7/15

The hottest day of the year saw 13 riders lining up for a club event on the Stoke Hammond course in very hot and humid conditions. It was actually around 37oC for the race! I arrived quite early, as Tony was setting out some signage and I ended up hanging about, beating off the horse flies that plagued us. In fact, as I write this a few days after the event, I’m suffering several itchy bites!

Anyway, that didn’t really dent my performance. What dented that was the stiff old headwind out on the dual carriageway, and particularly on the rise up to the turn roundabout. By the time I reached the dual carriageway section, my mouth had dried up and got rather gummy. This made things a bit worse than I’d have liked! It was, of course a consequence of removing my bottle cage after the debacle on the Brogborough course the other week.

I finished with a slightly disappointing 23:41, a few seconds behind winner Geoff Perry – but good enough for second place.

Results at the NBRC website

Race data at Garmin Connect

Our 2015 “Summer” Tour

Our 2015 tour was organised after a winter and spring in which our cycling had been seriously curtailed by pressure of work. Accordingly (a) we desperately needed a break, and (b) I needed to be quite conservative about projected daily mileage.

I thought carefully about the trip in which I wanted to visit Barra, Benbecula, the Uists, Skye, and Mull, and I deliberately included two double night stays (on Barra and North Uist), so we could choose routes to suit how we were going. Where possible, I wanted to have some nice seafood in the evenings. All our accommodation was pre-booked. I had trouble finding B&Bs on Barra, where we ended up in the very excellent Isle of Barra Beach Hotel and in Tobermory – we ended up staying in Salen while on Mull.

Once again, we had less than ideal weather. While I wouldn’t say it was particularly wet, it was rather cold – colder than our recent experience of late spring-early summer touring in the Hebrides.

We rode our now not-so-new Thorn Raven Discovery tandem (see my multipart review – Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5). We didn’t have a single mechanical problem, though we did see minor oil leakage from the Rohloff hub while transporting it in the car.

Day 1 – Oban to Barra

Day 2 – Barra

Day 3 – Barra to Lochboisdale

Day 4 – Lochboisdale to Lochmaddy

Day 5 – North Uist and Berneray

Day 6 – Lochmaddy to Lochbay

Day 7 – Lochbay to Broadford

Day 8 – Broadford to Salen

Day 9 – Salen to Salen

Day 10 – Salen to Oban

Brogborough ’10’ 10/6/15

In which I almost bottle out, then lose my bottle!

After last week’s relatively balmy conditions, this evening was a bit of a shock. Unseasonably cold, and with a very strong head wind for the out bound leg, this event was always going to be ‘interesting’.

Over the past week, I’d been having a bit of trouble with the front brake on my P5 bike. I had stupidly screwed the pressure point adjustment screw too far in, to the point the brake was no longer functional. This required a tricky disassembly and then re-filling the system with oil. It took a fair bit of application to do this. It wasn’t until the day of the race that I finally got this sorted out!  There had also been some kind of serious accident on the course on the previous week (I don’t know the details, but sadly I think it involved several fatalities). This had needed some kind of repairs to the roadside barriers, and threatened a weekend open event, though it was cleared by Wednesday evening. Continue reading

Stony ‘11.4’ 3/6/15

This was my first time trial after returning from our tandem cycle tour in the Hebrides and was a return to the Stony Stratford course after three weeks (I failed to post a report on that event). It was actually the nicest evening for a club event this year, nice and warm and with only a light breeze to contend with.

The nice weather brought out the usual crop of airborne arthropods (the course is flanked by crops, livestock and waterways): throughout the event, I could hear insects bouncing off my aero hat! Actually, my legs felt they were still in touring mode, and in particular I found getting up the hill to Nash a bit tough, even tought than usual. Other than that, I cannot point the finger at any cause of problems.

I finished with 28:11, to take third place (second place on vets standard), behind Simon Cannings, who did a sterling ride, and Dave Glossy.

 

Results

Pos No Name Club Time Cat Vets Std .+ / –
1 11 Simon Cannings Equipe Velo 25.57 V45 30.07 .+ 4.10
2 10 David Glossy Team Corley 27.40 V42 29.51 .+ 2.11
3 12 Robert Saunders NBRC 28.11 V55 31.00 .+ 2.49
4 14 Tim Bailey TeamMK 28.18 V48 30.22 .+ 2.04
5 6 Andy Sharman Baines Racing 28.26 V44 30.02 .+ 1.36
6 16 Jason Lee TeamMK 28.30 V46 30.12 .+ 1.42
7 5 Ant Newland Bossard Wheelers 28.35 V49 30.28 .+ 1.53
8 8 Graham Line NBRC 29.10 V50 30.33 .+ 1.23
9 9 Darren Haydon NBRC 29.20 V44 30.02 .+ 0.42
10 17 Gavin Old Equipe Velo 29.44 V43 29.56 .+ 0.12
11 13 Mick Atkinson TeamMK 29.50 V46 30.12 .+ 0.22
12 4 Paul Woodham Bossard Wheelers 30.16 V64 32.06 .+ 1.50
13 7 Clive Faine TeamMK / MKCA 31.27 V68 32.46 .+ 1.19
14 3 Trevor Watson Bossard Wheelers 32.26 V56 31.06 .- 1.20
15 2 Wayne Thomas NBRC 32.42 V64 32.06 .- 0.36
16 1 John Pick Chronos RT 39.27 V70 33.10 .- 6.17
15 Luke Daniells NBRC DNF V42 29.51
Time Keepers:- Steph Cousins & Tony Farmborough NBRC
Pusher off:- Bryan Scarborough. NBRC

Astwood ’10’ 6/5/15 (Abandoned)

The club had agonised about whether to run this event – 24h beforehand, it was clear that we were heading for some pretty windy conditions, with gusts up to 50mph (and of course the Astwood circuit is pretty much on a hill!). We finally took the decision not to cancel, as the BBC forecast suggested the gales would subside to a mere 24mph by 7pm.

So I rode to work on my P5 as usual on race day. Unfortunately when I can to leave work for the race, I found it so windy that riding a P5 with a front trispoke was alarming at best and downright dangerous at worst! I got a lift home and switched to the P3 with a rear trispoke and a regular road wheel in the front. Unfortunately, this left me only 25 minutes to dash to the start. What the hell, I thought, I’ll go for it! Sadly, the railway crossing barriers were down and I got stuck for several minutes there. It was clearly very gusty as I pressed on. I had a tail wind up the hill to Cranfield and onward to the start point of the race, so I made pretty good time. I arrived a few minutes after 7pm (well warmed up), to find several riders plus timekeepers milling about deciding whether to abandon. By this time, the wind had really whistled in, bearing a nasty shower. A few riders ventured off down the course to evaluate the situation, and an in the end the wise decision was taken to abandon and we retired to the Bikebus cafe for a coffee before returning home.

It did seem as though conditions were better while we were in the cafe, but frankly I think that was an illusion – it was still pretty awful as I rode home, and I had a couple of very alarming gusts.