The Lea Valley CC ’25’ was held on the E2/25 course with an HQ in Exney, near Newmarket. It was also the victim of a car break-in during which all the entry forms were pinched. It’s to the organiser’s credit that the event went ahead at all, let alone so smoothly. I went over to the event with my club mate Tony – both slightly apprehensive, and in particular in my case rather worried about the course, which is based on the A14 and A11 dual carriageways near Cambridge.
Anyway, for a change I found myself setting up to race on a warm and sunny afternoon, rather than the wet and cold conditions I’ve raced in recently. Both Tony and I decided that for our first ’25’s of the season, we’d be happy with results in the 57 or 58 minute range. After we set up the bikes, we went to recce the ride up to the start, and do a brief warm up. After that it was off to the start. I was there good and early as I was a bit concerned about the start time (15:12 isn’t usually correct for number 62!). Eventually the start came, and off I went, down the sliproad onto the A14.
As I joined the A14, I was surprised to find myself tearing along at over 30mph. On the face of it, the A14 is rather alarming, with three lanes in each carriageway. In practise, the E2/25 (this was my first ride on the course after last year’s debacle) turned out to a be a rather nice course – quite flat with few sliproad junctions. I didn’t expect to keep up that pace, but much to my surprise, I found myself rocketing along at an average of 30mph. I’m a realist, so I didn’t actually believe I’d become Chris Boardman – most likely the breeze, which had got up during the afternoon was assisting me.
I kept on roaring along, occasionally seeing speeds in excess of 34mph and never dropping below 28mph, to the junction with the A11 (see the map below). Here riders just stick to the left and the lane scoots off to form the A11. The only problem were the potholes, but having been pre-warned at the start, these presented no difficulty. In my mind, the A11 ran at in a slightly different direction than the A14 (but this isn’t the case), so I was pleased to see my speed holding up, and I found myself ascending the sliproad to the turn at about 25 minutes.
Descending from the turn, it was clear that there had been significant wind assistance – once out on the A11 again, I found it hard to keep up 23mph most of the time. As usual in these circumstances, I started mental calculations of my likely finish time – I figured I was heading for a 57. However, by the time I rejoined the A14 I found my speed picking up again. At the time I though this must reflect a change of direction relative to the wind, but looking at the map, this can’t be the case.
Very soon, I passed the two service stations that flank the course not far from the start, and saw the sign for the exit slip where the finish is (this is nice, it gives the rider half mile notice of the finish!). And with some delight I crossed the finish in what appeared to be a long-ish 55.
Back to the car to change and recuperate, while waiting for Tony (who’s start was 47 minutes behind me) – when he turned up, he thought he’d done a long 53 or a short 54. In the end, it turned out Tony had recorded a 53:54, and I’d done 55:38 – results we were both very pleased with.
Reviewing my old records, this might be my fasted ’25’ since 2004 when I recorded 54:38 on the F1B/25. I’ll need to check more carefully! I’ll post more results when they become available. The map below includes some of the warm up prior to starting.
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