It was always on the cards that tonight’s event stood the risk of being dominated by the weather, and so it transpired. But it was beyond just being wet! Riding up to Astwood in sunshine, I could see deep black clouds heading my way, despite the essentially sunny conditions I was cycling in. When I arrived to sign on, most of the riders (there were 17 mad fools there) were all looking a bit apprehensively at the glowering horizon, with much talk of hailstones falling nearby.

By the time the first riders started, the wind had dropped, but while I was ‘warming up’, the temperature had fallen noticeably. However, the wind whipped up wildly a couple of minutes before I was due to start, and by the time I set off conditions were, shall we say, less than favourable. Emerging onto the road to Chicheley, I found myself battered by gales strong enough to not only slow me almost to a standstill, but to make my bike really rather difficult to steer. But then it got worse…

First, a few rain drops, then the hail started. Under the dark clouds, I could not discern any of the numbers on my bike computer. I had no idea how fast (or rather, how slow) I was going. I had no idea what my heart rate was. In fact, by the time the rain was evading my glasses and the lenses had steamed up, I could barely see where I was going.

I pressed on to the Chicheley turn, which I took very gingerly. The next stretch up to North Crawley seemed quite speedy.  But I really had no grip on how I was going! From North Crawley I felt it was heavy going, and each bend was taken cautiously. Finally, I reached the descent before the final climb. I roared down as best I could, buffeted by wind and rain (fortunately the hail had stopped in favour of heavy rain), and ground up the climb to the finish. Still unable to read my computer, I waited for the result.

25:30

Possibly my worst time on that course that I can recall. I blame the ghastly conditions. Still, we’ll see how I get on at the weekend, when I’m supposed to ride the API Metrow ’25’ on the E2/25. Last weekend’s VC10 ’10’ was cancelled due to roadworks: this weekend’s weather is forecast to be rather wet, so we shall see whether the ’25’ goes ahead…

P.S. I failed to report on last week’s two-lap event at Astwood – I’ll write that up out of sequence maybe.