This is probably the only time this season I’ll race on the Stagsden course (see Garmin trace below), as I was away cycle touring on the previous occasion this year. The evening was marred by an exceptionally heavy shower – but let’s face it, that’s pretty much par for the course for this season. I rode up via Astwood, and it was at Astwood that the deep black clouds caught me and I rode along the A422 towards the meeting point in one of the heaviest showers I can remember ever having been riding a bike in. By the time I arrived to sign on, I was completely and utterly drenched, from head to toe. My colleagues were all warmly ensconced in motor vehicles and took some delight in seeing me squelch into view. Fortunately that was all the rain I experienced that evening, but the roads were pretty wet throughout.

From the start, this course always feels tough, as the road rises gently towards Astwood and beyond. This evening was no exception, particularly as there was a stiff head wind. Indeed, I felt as though I was riding through mush as my speed dropped. But once past Astwood, things felt a bit better, even though my speed wasn’t that great. Up the hill to Chicheley and on to the turn roundabout. From the turn, things got much better. With the tail wind my speed picked up – I noticed 34 mph at one point.

I squelched on past the finish, recording 23:19, which I was quite pleased with. I was closer to Tony that I’ve been on recent outings, though we were all somewhat eclipsed by Jason Gurney’s excellent ride.

Results (at northbucksroadclub.org.uk)