Stagsden 10 13/9/14

symbol_03This was the last time trial in the North Bucks TT series (the remaining event is the Hill Clib championship). Three North Bucks riders turned up, to be joined by three others, who must have detected our crestfallen faces! Still, there was a race to be ridden.

The Stagsden course is quite interesting, with significant undulations that can be quite disruptive to the riders’ rhythm variably depending on the wind direction. This morning, there was pretty much no wind, and the only issues were the drags up to Astwood and Chicheley, which affected both legs equally.

I just tried to buckle down and go as hard as I could. I finished in 23:17 to take second place behind Richard Wood. Mind you, the three non-NBRC riders were on road bikes!

Pos

No

Name Club

Time

Cat

Vets Std

.+ / -

Vets Std

1 4 Richard Wood Arbis/Colbert 23.11

S

     
2 3 Robert Saunders NBRC 23.17

V54

27.04

.+ 3.47

1
3 5 James Fox CCLuton 23.26

S

     
4 2 Dave Price NBRC 24.18

V46

26.27

.+ 2.09

2
5 1 Andy Wickham NBRC 24.43

V44

26.18

.+ 1.35

3
6 6 Rob Fletcher Arbis/Colbert 25.08

V43

26.13

.+ 1.05

4

As usual, we’re indebted to Steph, Tony and Bryan for ensuring the event could happen.

 

VTTA Championship 25 24/8/14

symbol_03This event was a re-run of the VTTA men’s ’25’ championship originally run earlier in the season. the event had to be abandoned due to extraordinarily heavy rain mid-way through the event. Talking to riders, it sounds like conditions hd been truly foul with standing water many inches deep in places.  For some reason, the rescheduled event was being held as a morning event – most E2/25 races are afternoon events. This brought with it transport issues. I travelled over with Katja, leaving at about 5am. I thought it prudent to set the alarm on my watch, but unfortunately messed up the watch’s setting, so I was woken at 4am, but French time. I found myself awake an hour earlier than I needed to be. Oh well.

It was a pretty cold morning, around 8 degrees when we started, and there was a rising wind from the west. Westerly winds aren’t usually the best thing for events on the E2/25, so while I remained a bit optimistic about the event, I wasn’t really sure how it would go. The E2/25 isn’t a course I ride terribly frequently. It uses major dual carriageways, the A14 and the A11, but actually feels pretty safe because there aren’t many slip roads, and the roads are pretty wide.

I confess to not warming up well – this was mostly due to the fact it was so cold. However, I shot down the slip road onto the A14 and find myself going well at about 29mph. Alas, this wasn’t to last as I soon found myself exposed to the breeze. I felt really pretty awful on the outward leg, with my speed dropping each time the road sloped gently up. Bearing in mind the undulations on the course are not exactly steep, this was rather disappointing, and I began to worry about the outcome. By the time I reached the turn, I was feeling quite despondent. I’d tried dropping my gears to find a higher cadence, but each time I did this, my speed fell further so I kept the gears high.

At the E2/25 turn. Photo: Davey Jones
At the E2/25 turn. Photo: Davey Jones

At the turn, I spotted Davey Jones out there photographing riders – I think he was sat in a position to grab photos as riders approached the slip road back down to the dual carriageway.

The return leg was (thankfully) quite a bit quicker, as the wind was assisting us. I found myself clocking along at more than 30mph at times. Sadly this didn’t compensate for the toughness of the outbound leg, and I finished with 56:40. This was good enough for 30th place out of 118 finishers on actual time, though as I’m not a VTTA member, no result on standard for me!

I think it says something about my late season build up of form that I was disappointed with 56:40, back in May this would have seemed an unlikely performance. Perhaps this is a good sign!

Stoke Hammond 10 13/8/14

symbol_03As the season moves on, we reached the penultimate evening event in the NBRC time trial series with another event on the Stoke Hammond bypass course. A field of 16 riders turned out on a slightly blustery evening of sunny spells and pleasant temperatures. Not too bad for the ride, though I expected a head wind up to the DC section (and I was concerned that my Hed Stinger 90 might be slightly twitchy).

The start was less affected by the windy conditions, at least until after the second roundabout, when the road rises towards the DC section. I kept the effort up, only to be forced to a sudden tub-scraping skid of a stop by a car overtaking me just before the roundabout and stopping! Up to speed again, on the DC, and I could see riders in front of me, getting closer. I was feeling pretty good. Couldn’t read my Garmin other than speed, so I had no idea what HR I was on, as as for recent events was riding mostly on feel.

Once round the turn, I could see a pall of very dark cloud ahead of me and I was getting increasingly concerned that I’d get soaked. Again. Fortunately, the raing didn’t approach very quickly, and I had the opportunity to storm down to the finish, with a wind-assisted run along the false flat to the line.

I can in with 22:54 for second place, which I was quite pleased with. I was also first on vet standard.

Sadly, the rainstorm got us just as Tony arrived with the results, and I had a very wet ride home!

Pos No Name Club Time Cat Vets Std .+ / - Vets Std
1 15 Richard Golding www.twenty3c.co.uk 22.21 V45 26.23 .+ 4.02 2
2 10 Robert Saunders NBRC 22.54 V54 27.04 .+ 4.10 1
3 2 Ant Newland Bossard Wheelers CC 23.17 V48 26.36 .+ 3.19 4
4 5 Trevor Hook TeamMK 23.19 V56 27.14 .+ 3.55 3
5 13 Jason Lee TeamMK 23.26 V45 26.23 .+ 2.57 6
6 6 Graham Line NBRC 23.51 V49 26.41 .+ 2.50 7
7 12 James Barlow Leighton Buzzard Roads CC 23.55 Sen.
8 4 Andy Smith TeamMK 24.07 V57 27.20 .+ 3.13 5
9 9 Andy Burnett BTC 24.13 V51 26.50 .+ 2.37 8
10 14 Andy Wickham NBRC 24.22 V44 26.18 .+ 1.56 10
11 11 Andrew Martin Leighton Buzzard Roads CC 26.01 V43 26.13 .+ 0.12 13
12 3 Trevor Watson Bossard Wheelers CC 26.03 V55 27.09 .+ 1.06 .= 11
13 1 Clive Faine TeamMK 26.13 V68 28.42 .+ 2.29 9
14 7 Paul Woodham Bossard Wheelers CC 26.53 V63 27.59 .+ 1.06 .= 11
15 16 Luke Daniells NBRC 27.47 V41 26.04 .- 1.43 14
16 8 Neil Boddington NBRC 28.10 Sen.
Time Keepers:- Steph Cousins & Tony “Desperado” Farmborough NBRC
Pusher Off:- Bryan Scarborough NBRC

Stagsden 10 30/7/14 (NBRC Championship)

symbol_01Another glorious evening brought out 15 riders, including six North Bucks members, to this event on the Stagsden course. There was only a gentle breeze which, while it did make the outward leg a bit harder than the return, was rather nice as it was bearing the summery scent of wheat harvesting from the the nearby fields. OK, poetic bit over, how did the race go?

The Stagsden course is never as fast as one might expect, mostly because it’s quite undulating. Indeed, the opening part involves a nasty drag up to Astwood. I was off as number 13 (it’s a good job I’m not superstitious), so I had to opportunity to catch a few riders, and to see how others looked on the return leg as I approached the turn. Unfortunately, I felt like I was riding through treacle, and the sight of other riders flying back from the turn didn’t serve to increase my optimism! Still, sense prevailed and I kept up the effort. The explanation, of course, was that the return leg has several significant descents which (though shallow) serve to give the rider a spell of 35+ mph riding. Oh, and I guess a slight tailwind can only have helped!

I crossed the line in something well over 23 minutes – I couldn’t really read the small numbers due to my sunglasses (and age-related myopia!) and I was initially at least rather disappointed. However, when I saw the results the following morning, I was quite pleased with my second place, together with my time relative to other riders. So maybe things are looking up for Team Grumpy

Stoke Hammond 10 23/7/14

symbol_03This was another warm and humid evening, with a rather noticable blustery wind. It wasn’t obvious where the wind might benefit the riders, and this wasn’t helped by conflicting comments from riders who’d been warming up on the course.

As it turned out, I found some assistance on the ride out to the dual carriageway section, but actually there was enough side wind to make my front wheel a bit twitchy at times. Once out on the dual carriageway, we were on the newly chipped road surface. Thankfully there were no loose chippings left, but the new surface was a little rough. On the other hand the potholes have gone!
The dual carriageway was a bit heavy going at times, due both to the new surface and the nagging wind, which was most definitely catching my front wheel. Round the turn, and I was going a fair bit faster.

After leaving the dual carriageway, I felt like I was losing it a bit: the breeze here was definitely a hindrance, especially on the false flat in the run-up to the finish. As I crossed the line, I stopped the timer on my Garmin and looked at the time. I couldn’t actually read it (blame age-related visual issues!). It also turned out I’d not stopped the clock anyway. My best guess was that I’d done a short 23.

Back at the meeting point, the riders congregated for the usual deconstruction of their efforts. No-one seemed particularly delighted with their expected times, and there were several of us around the 23 minute mark. Eventually the timekeepers returned clutching the clipboard. It turned out I’d won with 22:56 by a narrow margin!

Verulam CC 25 20/7/14

symbol_03My first open event for some weeks, mostly due to personal commitments and a seeming paucity of events in London North. The organisers were using the Sandy Sports Centre as the race HQ, which is a bit slicker than the traditional HQ over at Tempsford, but a bit further from the race start. It was a pretty good morning – quite warm, but not as humid as of late, and with a gentle 7mph wind from the northwest that promised to be a headwind on the longer northbound leg. This was to be the debut of my new TT bike, a rather extravagent purchase of a Cervelo P5!

We had around 64 riders on the start sheet – I was #46 with the scratch rider at #70. The numbers didn’t correspond to start times in the usual way, which may have contributed to three late starts! I wandered over to sign on and collect my number before returning to the car to set up my bike. I was using my old Hed Stinger 90 front and Corima disc rear, both with Conti tubs (though the Stinger had a more budget tub than the disc wheel!), so no power data were to be collected.

The organisers counselled that one should allow 15 minutes to reach the start. Just before I went, Richard M. returned with a flat tyre, complaining of glass on the road (shortly after, he and his Bossard team mates set off to the start by car). I rode over to the start, and I think 15 minutes was about right though I’d been cautious and made sure I arrived with plenty of time.

I was amused to see they’d crossed out one chalked out start line and replaced it with another about a yard further forward. I remain unconvinced it would make any real difference! I set off rather more sedately that usual for a couple of reasons – firstly, I was still getting used to the feel of the P5 when using the base bars, and secondly it always seems a bit of a waste of effort in the drag up to the Tempsford flyover. I was already finding the position on the P5 just about right, and the TT saddle I’d fitted was very comfy. I came off the tribars for the miniroundabout, then shot off down the sliproad to the A1.

I felt pretty good from the get-go, and cruised on towards the Sandy roundabout. This bit undulates a bit, but I kept a good speed up. Off the tribars once again to circle the roundabout then off north with that gentle headwind. I made pretty good time along that leg, catching several riders. I did have an anxious moment at the Black Cat, but other than that, the traffic flow was light, and I had no hassle. 

Verulam-25-140720-small
On the F1/25 in one of the last events to use this course. (Photo: Steve Wells)

Shortly after the Buckden turn, I caught my minute man. I’m always a bit careful when catching a seeded rider, just in case I blow up and get passed again! This time, everything was OK, though it did take a long time for him to disappear behind me.

At the Buckden turn. (Photo: Davey Jones)
At the Buckden turn. (Photo: Davey Jones)

The southbound leg was supposedly wind-assisted, and felt pretty good. My speed was wobbling a bit, presumably dependent on the drags and the amount of shelter afforded by trees etc. I came through the Black Cat and passed another pair of riders before finishing.

While riding, I’d felt comfortable on the bike and I was aware that I was rideing better than I usually do on the F1/25. It was rather warm, and I was sweating quite a bit. I glanced at my Garmin as I crossed the line – it was showing 56 something. So I reckoned I must have done a 55, as I start the timer as my minute man starts. I must confess to having been a little unsure of this – I have trouble reading the digits on the display, and I also failed to turn off the timer. So I puzzled about it on the way back to the HQ. I got back to the car, surprising Carol who thought I’d got back so quickly I mustn’t have finished the race! 

I finished in 55:42, good enough for 5th place (out of 48 riders who’d finished). This is my fastest time on the F1/25 for several years, and I just wish I could understand why things sometimes just ‘click’ (though I have upped my training since April).

I found the new TT bike really excellent – it’s set up just about right, and the saddle makes quite a difference (I tend to slide forwards on the SLR on the P3). On the downside, the matt finish of the frame really does show the streaks of sweat!