VTTA 10 mile Winter TT league - Event 4 30/1/24

Another Tuesday, another VTTA Zwift time trial.

Aead of this time trial, I decided to splurge some of the 40+ million drops I'd accumulated in Zwift and buy the best frame and wheel combination available. At least as suggested by Zwift Insider. Armed with a (virtually) shiny new (virtual) cadex TT frame with (virtual) DT Swiss wheels, I entered the fourth in the eight event VTTA series.

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VTTA 10 mile Winter TT league - Event 3 23/1/24

In this, my third event in the VTTA 10 mile Zwift TT series, I tried to maintain a steady power. I also tried ride this as I normally do road TTs - that is, at a very low cadence. This worked marginally - I seem to have improved by a piffling 4 seconds! At this rate I may have cracked 24 minutes by the end of the 8 events!

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Stony 11.4 9/3/13

Well, it's unfortunate, but my season has begun with a whimper rather than a bang.I've been suffering from the latest bout of lower back pain, but I'd promised Tony I'd show up for this, the first in the NBRC series of time trial events. Notionally a medium gear event, riders usually pitch up with their regular time trial bikes. I cycled over, 18 miles in cold and wet conditions, and by the time I arrived, I seriously doubted I'd make any kind of impression. Other than a bad one.To be honest, the opening mile or so were reasonably OK, and crouching over the tribars wasn't in itself particularly uncomfortable. But when I had been through Beachampton, I found I was unable to race uphill to Nash, and indeed, by the time I passed through Nash I'd had enough and down-geared to offer a degree of pedalling comfort.Accordingly I cruised back down the hill, mostly suffering an acute sense of embarrassment because of passing club runs (which seemed to be going faster than me). I finished with a less than impressive 33:33 for last place. Results over at the NBRC website.

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Stoke Hammond 10, 10th April 2013

As I've whined about lately, this season has not got off to an excellent start. This event was only the second event I've started and the first I've finished in 2013. This has been due to a severe bout of back pain that has only abated in the last day or two, and which has sidelined me from training and indeed riding bikes for the best part of a month.  The last event I attempted was something of a disaster. Meanwhile, I've kept eating  as if I was actively training and racing with the consequent impact on body weight.Riders for this event were greeted by overcast skies and a chilly breeze. It was with some apprehension that I rode down to the event. I really don't feel fit at the moment, and I was concerned that my bad back would flare up again. We had quite a good turnout of 11 riders - I was off number 2.Heading out, I immediately found myself struggling to keep a decent pace - partly of course, this was due to the headwind (gentle though it was), but also I found it difficult to get comfortable in the aero position on the tri-bars. I'm not too worried about that, because early season events are always like that for me. I gingerly negotiated the first roundabout, successfully avoiding the potholes, and pressed on through the second roundabout and on to join the dual carriageway section. Once up there, the head wind was rather nagging and I had difficulty keeping the effort up. But after the turn  I found the return leg quite a bit quicker and more confortable. I eventually finished in 24:41. Not a particularly good performance, but somewhat better than I'd expected in the circumstances. More importantly, I finished without a recurrence of back pain. It can only get better from here, I hope.Results at the NBRC website.

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Astwood 10 17/4/13 (DNF)

During the ride home from work it was apparent that the wind had strengthened during the day. Despite this, it was a pretty warm evening with all the signs that Spring had finally arrived. I made a mad dash up to Astwood on the time trial bike, without really paying attention to the choice of front wheel - I was riding front and rear trispokes, as usual.I could feel the wind tugging strongly on my front wheel, particularly when I rode past gaps in the hedgerows. Nevertheless I pressed on, as I have rarely been unable to race due to strong wind. I made it to the start line in time to see the first riders lining up to start. Grabbing a number and signing on, I awaited my start. I was the last rider off, and I suspect the wind had been continuing to rise while I waited. I was frustrated to have to stop for a line of cars before I could join the main road, shortly after the start. Once on the main road, I found the wind was a real problem on my front wheel, and I was unable to hold a decent straight line. I was worried about being blown into traffic, but in the end I decided to call it a day after nearly being blown off the bike twice in quick succession. I felt that discretion was most certainly the better part of valour.Riding home wasn't a great deal of fun - though I did see most of the guys powering along as though there was no wind at all! Maybe had I been riding a different front wheel... perhaps I was unfortunate in encountering a particularly strong gust on an exposed part of the course.

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TeamMK 10 28th April 2013

It was with quite some trepidation that I approached this event. After all, in my last outing on this course I'd been splattered over the tarmac by two children out on the course. And my 2013 season has hardly been noted by glory - mostly due to illness and injury. Indeed I managed to work myself up into a state of quite some apprehension. On the morning I woke stupidly early and saw the heavy frost. Fortunately the early sun soon put paid to the frost, and it was rather nice as I rode out to the event HQ at the Marston Vale Forest Centre.By the time I rode up to the start, things had got a bit colder: a cold breeze had sprung up, and the sky had become rather overcast. Still, I lined up at the appointed time and shot off down the starting  descent. I felt a bit nervy with the bike twitching in a slight crosswind, though I think this is just me being a bit out of practice on the TT bike.Reaching the bottom of the descent, and set into a decent rhythm and soon crossed the first RAB. This is a bit awkward, and I've never got through on the tri-bars. Once out the other side, I pressed on to the turn. After the turn, things seemed to go a bit pear-shaped, as there was a stiff old headwind. At least the back pain that has bedevilled me for the last month or so was noticeable by its absence. Once again across the roundabout, and I was photographed a second time. It turned out the photographer was JB, who kindly tweeted them. Here's one, though I do look a bit portly as a consequence on not training enough![caption id="attachment_2217" align="aligncenter" width="258"] Grovelling into a headwind, Team MK '10' 28/4/13[/caption]After that 'photo-op', I continued my grovel to the finish line which I crossed in an estimated 24:11. Not brilliant, so I wasn't too bothered that the result on the board at the HQ was 24:21. I was just delighted my back wasn't convulsed in pain.All in all, a reasonably OK race. Well, apart from the time! Here's the Garmin trace: 

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Lampard RC 10 18/5/13

Rather a nice afternoon for a time trial - dry with a gentle breeze - but rather cool. I rode out on the time trial bike, newly equipped with a Hed Jet disc wheel with a Powertap hub. After a week fighting off a cold, I wasn't really feeling particularly optimistic, particularly given the last few months' lack of training, but I did hope to knock out a mid 23.After bizarrely wishing the timekeeper 'good morning' (it was 3.32pm!), I left the start line quite briskly. Unfortunately the traffic at the Billington roundabout was busy enough to slow me appreciably - I then had to accelerate back up to a reasonable speed again. Other than this, the outward leg was fairly brisk and I felt pretty good. Unfortunately, I got stopped again by traffic at the turn. Worse than this, at a couple of points in the return leg I completely lost the plot (mentally) and found myself allowing my speed to drop far too much.After a clear run through the second crossing of the Billington roundabout, I crossed the line with a pretty poor 23:59. Still, it's my fastest '10' of 2013 - maybe things are looking up...Here's the Garmin trace, below the fold:

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Stoke Hammond 10, 22nd May 2013

Another sunny evening greeted the 19 riders who turned out for this evening '10'. On the downside, the wind was blowing quite strongly! The event was also the NBRC Championship '10', for which the six NBRC riders were eligible.As expected, the section leading up to the dual carriageway was a little twitchy with a gusty side wind, but once on the dual carriageway, this translated into a wonderfully assisting tailwind - most of us took advantage of this, but the rider in front of me, who was riding a medium fixed gear, seemed to be twiddling away like a demon! The road surface on this very new road has suffered recently, with numerous small but deep potholes having appeared. I contrived to ride through one of these, which didn't do any damage to the bike or to my ride, but wasn't very nice! I must learn to steer a bit more accurately.Of course, it came as no surprise to me that the return leg was really tough, though once off the dual carriageway the going was quite a bit better, albeit with several severe twitches as I passed gaps in the sheltering hedgerows. I finished with 24:09 - not a brilliant time, but quite a bit better than my previous outing on this course when I recorded 24:40! Once again I survived without back pain, so I guess that is past me for the time being.  On the whole, I'm a bit more optimistic about getting my training and racing back on an even keel.

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Astwood 10 19/6/13

This event was on a warm but heavily overcast and very humid evening. Still, conditions seemed to be enough for a decent turnout! I felt particularly sleepy before starting, though as usual sleepiness soon dissipated as my start time approached. For a change, it was a rather still evening - which was good.I was quite optimistic for the event. However, I hadn't raced for a month, and training had been interrupted by a brief holiday in Yorkshire followed by a work trip to Italy. While both those were fun, it did dent my training a bit, leaving a question mark over this event.As it turned out, the event was something of a mixed bag. I shot off from the start reasonably well, but my speed (as far as I could gauge it with my ageing vision) soon dropped off alarmingly, and this on parts of the course I'd normally be quite quick on. This pattern was repeated all through the event, with my general sensation being that of riding through a viscous substance. Perhaps that reflected the humid conditions.I finished with 24:42 which, while not a great time, was around a minute faster than my previous outing on the course.Here's the Garmin trace. 

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Icknield RC 25 30/6/13

The forecast for this event, unusally for this point in the year my first on the F1, was for sunny conditions with a light breeze. There was a light mist as we set off for Tempsford - but this lifted as we approached the F1. We did have to make a slight detour to fill the car with petrol! Unfortunately the wind did rise considerably, meaning there was a rather stiff cross-wind that promised to make the return leg a bit tougher than expected. However, I was keen to really kick-start my somewhat belated racing season. This was my first '25' of the season, rather astonishingly.After the usual start line banter, I set off along the minor road up to the flyover - here a white van man decided that the roundabout was an appropriate place to pass me, driving rather too close for comfort. Down the slip road to the A1, I picked up a bit of speed. Traffic was pretty light on the morning, which was rather good. But it was clear that the southbound legs were going to be a bit tougher than northbound. Turning as the Sandy roundabout, about 12.5 miles at a decent speed faced me, with the only possible hitch being traffic at the Black cat RAB, where I got through with only a slight drop in speed due to giving way to traffic heading off towards Bedford.I reached the Buckden RAB without too much trouble, and turned to head south. With the cross/head wind this was a bit harder, but not actually horrendously so...until the 19-20 mile mark, where I found the combination of a slight gradient and the wind dropped my speed to around 20 mph. But I soon picked the speed up, crossed the Black Cat in decent style to finish just outside the hour. I rode back to Tempsford with the guy who'd started a minute before me - he was a bit cross at his choice of fixed gear (he'd been misled by the weather forecast).I had to leave Tempsford before the results board was populated with data, but I estimated my time as about 1:00:04 (see Garmin trace below). A bit frustrating not to get below the hour, but rather better than I'd expected, given the paucity of racing and training this year. I was pleased that I seem to have finally got rid of my bad back - I had no trouble riding in the aero position. Onwards and upwards.Roadkill avoided: two deer, one cat, one pigeon.

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Stoke Hammond 10 3/7/13

Despite being a rather overcast evening this event saw a good turnout of riders - 21 solos and two tandems, I think. For my part I was feeling a bit tired after some heavy commitments at work and was  a little concerned that my performance would reflect this.I had hoped to get my time for this course down to the mid-23s - which speaks volumes for the state of my 'racing' season thus far! So it was with some apprehension that I lined up to start. To add further concern, the traffic in the lane where we meet seems to have increased substantially since the McDonalds opened for business.The race itself was rather uneventful - the usual caution in negotiating the first roundabout; the desperate attempt to keep a reasonable racing pace on the gentle climb between the secnd and third roundabouts; avoiding the numerous potholes on the dual carriageway. But I felt pretty good on the whole and, though my ageing eyes didn't seem able to resolve the smaller digits on the bike computer, I was reasonably hopeful that I wouldn't disgrace myself. Geoff Bunyan was captaining a tandem a minute behind me - they came past on the return leg in good and smooth style. They didn't make much headway as the road rises at the end of dual carriageway section, but one the road descended towards the finish, away they went.You can see the results at the NBRC website. I ended up with 22:42, which I was quite pleased by. I was riding my Powertap Hed Jet disc wheel, so I collected more power data. Here's the Garmin trace: 

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Astwood 20 10th July 2013

After a few days of really hot and sunny weather, it came as something of a shock to arrive at Astwood on an overcast, cold and windy evening. This event was the annual two-lapper on the Astwood circuit, and I think I was still feeling recent bike rides in my legs. In any event I really suffered in this event, and in particular I found the headwind in the second half of each lap rather more trouble than I should.So, essentially, I went like a bag of spanners, finishing with 51:20 or thereabouts. Not much more to say really!The Garmin trace is here.

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API-Metrow 25 13th July 2013

This was a blisteringly hot day - according to Tony's car's thermometer it was 29 degrees (my Garmin registered a maximum of 33 degrees during my ride) - and with a stiff old breeze from the north that greatly exceeded the 7mph draft that was forecast. It was my first outing on the E2/25 for a year or so.Driving out there, it was clear that the conditions were going to be 'interesting', due mostly to the heat, but also the wind. We collected our numbers from the HQ and retired to a lane near the start. Tony was off slightly more than an hour before me, and I found what little shelter I could beside a hedge and waited. After a while I rode up and down the lane, but it was so-o-o-o hot! By the time I rode off to the start, I'd drunk almost everything I'd brought (clearly insufficient!) and eaten a banana as I was feeling a bit hungry. I reached the start line a bit early and waited in the shade of a tree while talking to one of the women riders (I was starting three minutes after the women in the race). Passing riders who'd already finished observed that it was pretty tough on the return leg.The start was pretty straightforward, though I always get nervous when the pusher-off actually pushes me off, as it always feels like I'm going to depart in an unfortunate direction! But everything was OK as I zoomed off down the sliproad onto the A14. The breeze instantly had its effect, and indeed the outward leg was pretty quick all the way. Coming out of the turn, I was caught by #80 for three minutes, then at the bottom of the slip road by #78 for one minute. No-one else passed me, though I did catch some of the women riders.I found the nagging head wind a bit tough, especially on the slight uphill gradients (the course is actually really flat for the most part). I was also getting very thirsty, with what little saliva I could muster gluing my mouth up! So it was something of a relief to see the finish line looming! I finished in 57:02, which isn't too bad given my season so far.After the race, we returned home for home-made pizza and Leffe, which rounded off a hot, sticky and reasonably successful afternoon out.Stats-wise, I spent most of the race at rather a high pulse rate, often in excess of 190bpm. I think this reflected both the temperature and the effort, though the power recorded by the Powertap wheel was rather lower than I'd expected. All these data and more in the Garmin trace! 

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Stony 11.4 17th July 2013

I think this is only the second time this year that I've raced on this course, owing to illness, injury and pressure of work (it takes a while to ride over from work, so late meetings are quite disruptive). This event was true to form, my back pain had returned, and I only managed to make the event because a new colleague at work wanted to ride and offered me a lift to the event. The lengthy period of hot and sunny weather continued, with the event being run on a hot and sunny evening. There was a rising head wind for the closing section, but really, the conditions were pretty good.I was quite a late starter, and found I was feeling pretty good as I set off. By the time I reached Beachampton I thought I was going OK - indeed I only felt like I was in any real difficulty at the steepest part of the climb up to Nash. On the other hand, this is far from my favourite course, and it's particularly unforgiving for riders who are a little overweight (as I am) or who have a niggly sore back (as I did)! I could see most of the riders on their return leg as I headed out - they were whizzing back down the hill looking for the most part like they were enjoying themselves.Riding through Nash, I could see there were kids on bikes in a schoolyard. After I turned (no issues with traffic or farm animals), I was concerned to see people, including the kids, wobbling about in the road. This brought back memories of the Icknield '10' on the Brogborough course (F15/10) last September, when two small kids caused me to come off at speed. On this occasion, everyone kept their line and I safely negotiated the twisty road through Nash and started the descent. This was quite quick, and I was still feeling good as I passed through Beachampton. Over the rise after Beachampton, and into the last few miles of twisty lanes and I felt I was flagging a bit. Indeed, I crossed the line with 28:18. Not bad I suppose, given my recent performances, but I'd have liked to do a '27'! Full results here.  

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Stoke Hammond 10 24th July 2013

This was another warm and humid evening, with only a gentle breeze to bother the riders. We had a reasonable turnout of 14 solo riders and one tandem crew. I was what you might call well-rested, having been off the bike for a few days because of work commitments, so I was keen to gauge my fitness against my peers. I ended up as the penultimate starter, with only Tony P. behind me. So obviously, the fear was that he'd catch me embarrassingly early in the event.My start was pretty uneventful, and was pretty quick. Approaching the first roundabout, I was aware of a car coming up behind me, and took a conservative line through the roundabout. Unfortunately, this really slowed me down as I had to negotiate the huge potholes somewhat carefully! From there on, things did get better. As usual, the climb up to the main dual carriageway was a bit slow - I think the wind direction had a bit to do with that. Onto the dual carriageway, and my initial speed was around 30mph, which was encouraging. Unfortunately, this soon dropped away as the gradient flattened and the breeze took its toll. I began to get a little worried! Coming out of the turn, I could see Tony, who seemed to have gained rather more on me than I had hoped.Once round the turn, things got a bit quicker, and I felt a bit more up for it. I had no real issues negotiating the last roundabout crossings, and finished in 23:20. This was somewhat slower than my last ride on the course, but as far as I could see from looking at the results, everyone seemed to have gone a bit slower in comparison. The traffic levels seemed OK this evening, but several riders said they'd found that cars had been passing a bit close - this was certainly my experience. Nothing dangerous, mind, but it does remind us to keep our eyes open!Here's the Garmin trace for the event.On Saturday, I'm off to ride the Norlond '10' on the F15/10. Thunderstorms are forecast, which may liven things up a bit!

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Norlond 10 27th July 2013

We had a weather forecast of thunder and lightning for this event. On the day, however, it was another very hot afternoon, that mostly made me want to loaf around instead of exert myself! Tony came round to my place, and we rode over to the race HQ at Lidlington. When we got there, we were told by a timekeeper that roadworks on the course had necessitated a last minute change to a course thought to be about 7 miles. Instead of turning at the second roundabout (Wootton), we'd turn at the first roundabout (Marston Moretaine), retrace to the foot of the hill then turn left along the wonderfully named Sheeptick End, finishing just before Lidlington level crossing. Supposedly, this was about 7 miles (actually I made it about 6.5 miles). Another amusing factor was that this was a 'flying ant day', when all the new queen ants were emerging. I could hear these beasts bounding off my aero helmet, and see dragonflies and swifts zooming around eating them!Off to the start, and I did my best to warm up. I cruised up and down Sheeptick End, until I was confident I knew where the finish was. This section needed a bit of care, as there are several fairly sharp bends with large parked vehicles such as camper vans. The start was a little alarming, as the pusher off seemed to be having a little difficulty holding my bike, but soon enough I shot off down the starting hill. The outward leg wasn't too bad, and I was holding a decent pace to the turn. Unfortunately, the turn was affected by a line of half a dozen cars and their drivers seemed to be a little alarmed by the rider ahead of me that I was about to catch. After negotiating my way through that, I passed the rider and set off back along the course, dodging potholes as I went. The surface of the road seems to be deteriorating quite quickly.The return leg wasn't so quick, and I was quite relieved to reach the little rise before turning off onto Sheeptick End. This lane was quite quick at times, quite slow at others, but with a rather rough road surface. I eventually crossed the line in 15:02. The race was over, seemingly not much more than a warmup!Here is the Garmin trace.

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Astwood 10 31st July 2013

I was quite pleased that the current heatwave abated slightly for this evening event on the Astwood circuit. As usual, I lined up at the start yawning widely and proclaiming that I was too tired and hungry to do a decent ride.A few minutes before I was due to start, I had to nip into a field for a nature break. Unfortunately, upon emerging I found my Speedplay cleats had clogged up with mud and I had to spend some time poking the mud out with a stick retrieved from the verge. This was rather disconcerting as even after I dug the mud out I found that unclipping from the pedals was most erratic.Anyhow, I started as number 4 and pretty soon after starting, found the outward leg to Chicheley rather twitchy and difficult due to the wind. Once round the turn things got easier, and I began to entertain hopes of a sub-24 minute ride. By this time, I'd caught one rider and had a second in my sights. I redoubled my efforts and pressed on to catch the second rider. In these evening events, I find I'm unable to read the smaller numbers on my bike computer (a combination of vibration, low light, and needing reading glasses). I was able to make out the elapsed time, and I figured I'd need to put in a serious effort.By the time I reached the final descent before the climb to the finish I could see the last of the riders in front of me, and I threw everything into the effort needed to catch him. This I managed, just before the finish, with a final effort that saw my heart rate reach 203bpm! Gagging and gasping, I slumped to a standstill, hoping against hope I'd got under 24 minutes...and when the results were sorted, I found I'd done a 24:00 for third place.I was reasonably pleased with that result, which may just be showing some signs of a recovery of form. Here are the results and the Garmin trace

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Stony 11.4 7/8/13

Rather a nice evening for a time trial - sunny, but not too hot, and with only a fairly gentle wind. Unfortunately I felt pretty grotty and found the ride quite tough!I set off from the start feeling reasonably OK, made it through Beachampton OK, but fell apart a bit as rode up the climb to Nash. I had the added impetus of knowing my colleague Katja, on her second race on her new TT bike, was starting a minute behind me! I was unable to read my bike computer, due to sunglasses an age-related vision issues, so mostly I was riding on feel. This wasn't really good enough, as all I was aware of was feeling really rubbish as my speed dropped away on the climb to Nash. Once up there, things got a fair bit better.I was doing a good job staying on the tri-bars round the bends and corners. Well, mostly. I did descend well from Nash through Beachampton, but lost a bit of speed on the twists and turns over the last few miles to the finish.The event, overall, was a bit of a let-down after last week's ride at Astwood. I finished fairly low in the pecking order with 28:32. Full results at the NBRC website.Tony and Amy were out on the tandem to see the race: I rode back part of the way home with them (they did seem to be going rather fast for my tired legs).

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Bedfordshire Road CC 25 11/8/13

This was only my third '25' of the season, and on the F1B/25, the somewhat less flat version of the F1. This course heads south from Tempsford to turn at the Baldock interchange, just where the A1 changes into the A1(M).A nice enough morning heading out to the event, but by the time we reached the race HQ at Tempsford hall, the skies had clouded over and light had fallen a bit. Fortunately, by the time we started, things had improved a fair bit. As regards the event itself, it was marred somewhat by a stiff sidewind, which at one point threatened to overturn me! I had a pretty clear run through all the roundabouts.There was an annoying diesel spill at the miniroundabout near the start, but I don't think it caused any trouble with the riders.All in all an uneventful ride - I finished in 59:49, and went home to feed Tony blueberry pancakes!Here's the Garmin trace.

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Stoke Hammond 10 14/8/13

The rain was just starting as I left work to ride down to that start of this club event. It was also rather twitchy riding in blustery wind, so the signs weren't great! When I got down to sign on, I found a clutch of riders sheltering from the rain in the lee of Tony's car discussing whether or not we should ride. Some did not, but a core of nutters (including me) decided we'd go ahead.By the time we lined up at the start, Anthony B. had decided that having ridden round the course he wouldn't start - he reported the roundabouts may be a bit slippy. Another rider joined him in not starting, leaving the rest of us entertaining all sorts of doubt. However, at the appropriate time, I found myself launching off up the road in the a stiff and blustery wind. This had the effect of making my front wheel really twitchy. Nevertheless, I pressed on to the first roundabout which I negotiated with some care, given Anthony's warnings - and the fact this one's ridiculously potholed. For much of the rest of the event, I was mostly either whizzing along with a bit of wind assistance or grovelling along trying to control the bike.The only truly alarming moment came when I was crossing the last roundabout (i.e. the first one in reverse) and I hit a pothole. This threw my front wheel to such an extent that I thought I'd bought it! Somehow I managed to regain control and made a final effort to the finish. Third place with a paltry 23:50.Here's the Garmin trace, and the full results at the NBRC website.

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