This event features fairly regularly on my annual race calendar. It’s always good to do open events on one of the most-used courses in our club event calendar. This year Gerry and I entered to two-up section of the event. As it turned out, there was a relatively small turnout for the solo event (30 riders), and only three 2-up teams. As may have been surmised from recent event reports here and on the Team Grumpy blog, the early season events have been a bit of a struggle for both of us as we fight injury and illness, compounded by demands of work. Still those are the breaks, I guess, but nonetheless, sets the background for our early season race performance.
Unlike the North Bucks club events, the start for this version of the course is between Cranfield and Bourne End, but otherwise the course follows that described here. Team MK’s version of the course also means that the finish is not at the top of the climb into Astwood, which changes how I at least ride that climb.
The organiser seems to have a magic touch in arranging weather for this event. This year, I was a bit disappointed as clear skies gave way to dark clouds. However, by time we rolled up to the start line as the first 2-up team to start, the clouds had begun to break, letting the sun through. Unfortunately the performance of Team Grumpy was not as stellar as in previous seasons. I had neglected to pack my bike computer and so was riding blind to speed, time and heart rate. As it happened, this was rather good – at least in the context of a 2-up time trial, as I could focus on team riding without worrying about our speed.
At the start line there was a single pusher-off, which meant that I would have to clip in once Gerry had started. Of course, this then led to the usual situation of Gerry pausing to look back, while I need to avoid careering into his back wheel! Anyway, we started reasonably efficiently, then dropped into a good style of changeovers. We climbed to Astwood, negotiated the potholes and bumps and joined the A422 where we proceeded at a decent pace towards Chicheley.
Here the problems started.
We could see a solo rider ahead, and we were gaining quite rapidly. Gerry was leading, and we were due a changeover. Unfortunately as we started the climb to Chicheley, it became clear the solo guy wasn’t giving up without a fight. Eventually, we managed to execute the changeover, and I led us up the climb. By this time Gerry had been dipping into the red, and as I got to the top, I could hear a strangled shout. Looking back, Gerry was some way off my wheel. I eased back to let him back on, but in our race post mortem, he reckoned he never really recovered from that effort (this could be seen in a reversal of our usual roles, where Gerry leads us up climbs with me generally hanging on for grim death).
While this represented something of a lapse in Team Grumpy race skills, at least we can say that we altered our strategy to give me longer pulls at the front, rather like we did at last year’s Duo Normand. So how did we fare in the results? Not too well, I am afraid. We came third and last in the 2-up section, with a time of 49:51.
No course map for this report, as I had no Garmin with me!