The omens were not good for this event. As the easter weekend approached, all the weather forecasts were dire – snow, sleet, rain, wind, all were forecast, and all my pooh-poohing could not evade this. We had very strong and gusty wind from Thursday evening. Come Saturday morning, and we had snow showers, and near freezing temperatures to match the gusting gales.
Despite encouragement not to go, I set out to ride up to Astwood for the time trial. It took me considerably longer to get there than usual, due to the perishing head wind. I was encouraged by seeing at least one rider warming up, but when I staggered into Astwood village hall, blinking from the fierce wind, it seemed as though my appearance had galvanised my club mates from a state of indecision into a racing mindset. As I hate racing in tights or legwarmers, I stripped down to a longsleeved skinsuit (albeit with two longsleeved vests underneath it), and warmed by a generous dollop of extra hot waterproof warmup cream nipped out to the start. It has to be said at this point that racing with bare legs seemed to horrify everyone else, but as I found out bare legs were the least of my worries. The full start list was 9 riders (#1, a number reserved for Alan was left vacant due to Iranian new year or some such excuse). As the riders lined up and started, the snow got really heavy – hopefully some pictures will be added to the official results page.
Once started, the leg to Chicheley was reasonably easy – except for the severe wind chill on my spindly pins. Once I turned after Chicheley, however, things got a bit better, with a tailwind, my legs warmed up and I caught my minute man. Propelled by the tailwind, I roared towards North Crawley, trying not to worry about the snow getting in my eyes (for much of the race, I could barely see where I was going). At some point along that section,I was aware my shoes were filling with icy water. By the rise up to North Crawley (made easy by the tail wind), I’d caught another couple of riders. However, by this time, my fingers were getting very cold indeed (although to look on the bright side, the rest of me had warmed up!).
None of this had prepared me for the last few miles – as I approached the descent before the final climb I found myself battered almost to a standstill, and climbing to the finish line was horrible. In my customary big gear I found the head wind very hard, particularly coupled with a cold-induced inability to grip the bars.
Having finished (in 26:10), at least we had the Astwood Hall to warm up in and get a cup tea down. Very kindly, Russ gave me a lift home (all my clobber was pretty wet). All in all, a horrible race, but good company!
|Pos||No||Name||Club||Time||Cat||Vets Std||.+ / –||Pos.on Vets Std|
|2||4||Kevin Rayner||Hemel Hempstead CC||26.45||S|
Time keepers :- Mary Hartley & Tony.Farmborough NBRC
– many thanks to them (and the other helpers) for standing in the vile weather for us.