This was my first time trial in some weeks, due to being on cycling holiday, returning with a cold, and then work commitments. Not only had this restricted my racing, but my training has been affected by that dratted cold. This event had been entered some time back and I was keen to have a first ride on the F11/10, a local fast course based on the A41 Tring bypass. The course itself is characterised by having a fairly steep descent about halfway through (see the Garmin trace below) which you don’t have to come back up.
In advance of the event, there had been some internet chatter about the road surface on sections of the course. Apparently the formerly smooth surface had been ‘improved’ by top dressing with gravel. In places, this was supposed to be dangerously deep in loose chippings. But according to others, there was no problems, just a rough road surface. In any event, Tony and I drove round the course beforehand, partly to have a look at the chippings and partly to recce the course’s turns (the first turn is a poorly sighted double roundabout that passes under the A41).
The event was actually two events – one with male, female, juvenile and tandem categories, and the other with another 150 riders! The HQ was in a pretty good cafe/sports place in Aston Clinton (The Hub), and after driving round the course, we parked near the HQ, collected our numbers and set the bikes up. A brief warmup later, and I was about to start on a slip road leading down to the A41. By this time a rather blustery wind had built up, though it wasn’t clear what effect that might have.
Setting off, I rolled down the slip road, building up a decent speed. Sadly this seemed to evaporate as I joined the A41 and encountered the dreaded road surface with chippings. This really had a bit of a negative effect on my speed – all of a sudden, I seemed to be struggling to keep things above 25mph! Well, it did get a bit better, but then I got stopped at the first turn. The marshal was doing an excellent job of indicating that there was traffic oncoming from the right. The line of sight isn’t great, and I slowed to see what he was warning about. Sadly it was a line of about eight cars, and I ended up having to stop. Annoying, but the safer approach!
Moving again, I got round the turn with no further traffic problems, and set off again onto the A41. Again, the lengthy patches of newly chipped road surface were horrid to ride, rather like riding a pneumatic drill, but I did see some decent speeds on the descent and beyond. The second turn isn’t too bad, a roundabout that you approach directly on the road rather than by slip roads. I had a clean passage round and headed back up to the finish. This final section was really quite tough at times, with the blustery wind causing my speed to fluctuate quite markedly. I crossed the finish line with around 22:20 on my computer (actually 23:20, since I started my computer’s timer when the guy in front started), leaving me wondering just how much time the hold-up at the first turn had cost me. Back at the HQ, however, I’d been given the time of 22:31, which annoyed me a bit but, hey, I hadn’t done a stellar ride and I never go questioning the timekeeper. Tony P. did 21:53 and Geoff B. 21:57.
There was much chat about the conditions of the road and weather, with most riders complaining about both. Apparently the wind direction wasn’t the ideal direction for this course. And everyone hated the chippings. So, the usual time trial grumblings! Anyway, despite the road surface and the wind, the event was won on an 18.
I regretted my choice of wheels. I’d chosen to ride a Hed Stinger 90 front and Corima disc rear, both with 20mm tubulars at 140psi. I think I’d have been a bit better with the H3 front and Hed-Powertap disc rear with the 22mm clinchers at about 110psi. I think those would have dealt with the rough road surface a bit better.