Right, I’m going to confuse everyone (well, my two dedicated readers anyway).
This was sort of my 12th trip, as it replaced my 12th trip as Condor didn’t sail. Also, an earlier trip was abandoned as I had contracted Shingles, so really only eleven trips this year.
I found that I had the opportunity to ride the Leo RC 30, now organised by the East Anglian VTTA as the Leo has been defunct for many years, with John Golder now in the driving seat as event secretary.
John had promised us an even faster course than previous, than got the good luck of near perfect TT conditions. Added to that he got 145 solos plus 5 tandems and 5 riders listed as reserves – some of the riders being very capable testers.
Personally, I was looking at my very old pb of 1:16:49, set in Guernsey in the seventies – I don’t have the year, but it was a really good day and I was flying – on an ‘old school’ set up with no tri-bars, deep rims, discs, aero hat, skinsuit etc. Those were the days!
I didn’t go old school this time though.
The ferry ran a bit late, so I had a rather late drive up to Stevenage, compounded with a post code and address that the sat nav refused to recognise. After driving around in circles, I phoned the hotel, who gave me exactly the same post code until I repeated that it didn’t work – they then changed the last letter and bingo – I was there. Only problem was that I then arrived at 13:15 and not the 21:00 that had been planned.
I also had another problem – a touch of the toilet twosteps – not the best thing before a bike race.
Anyway I drove off late morning to the event HQ and went for a drive around the course, promptly getting lost, so never got to check out the turn.
I found my way round to the HQ again, signed on, got the bike ready and warmed up, feeling OK.
The start was over three miles from the HQ, well signposted through the lanes and I arrived in good time.
As is pretty usual in these events, the first 0.8 miles were in a (straight) country lane – the same width as our west coast road, than left up a slip road and on to the A11 dual carriageway transferring on to the A14 at 5.1 miles. My first 5miles were a bit slow in 13:05, but I had kept a good cadence and still hopeful. My legs, however were not feeling at all good – probably the effects of my health problems in the previous 36 hours.
Anyway, I persisted; dropping my cadence slightly as planned and completing the second 5 miles in 11:23 – looking a lot better, but everything was hurting! So, 24:28 for 10 miles (no noticeable wind).
At 11.8 miles the course switched back to the A11 and on to the turn.
The third 5 took me to the turn – a slip road, T junction, then two roundabouts one each side of the dual carriageway and back towards the start. The third 5 took 11:59, so 15 miles in 36:27. Very happy with that.
The fourth 5 went somewhat pear-shaped – my saddle moved a bit but I managed to sort that without stopping, but my speed dropped to only 21.6 mph, the slowest section of the ride. At that point, I think I started to blow, with my heart rate down to an average of only 189 (2nd and 3rd sections had averaged 195) and it all started to hurt rather. Also I was struggling on the drags, with my back giving me grief. So 4th 5 in 13:53 for a total of 50:20 – not looking so good?
I told myself off a bit and bit the bullet, managing 12:54 for the fifth section to total 63:14 – still not looking good.
The last 5 miles had over 100 feet of height gain – the largest of the six sections and I was hanging on to the higher gears to squeeze everything out before the finish, which took an absolute age come.
I finally saw the marshal for the turn off to the slip road – the last 100 yards being a bit like Paris – Roubaix – there were some punctures on the finish line!
But I finished with a last section of 13:31 to give me a course time of 1:16:47, putting my 40-year old personal best to bed by TWO seconds!
Please don’t try to add up my 5mile sections up as they are rounded figures, but they do paint the general picture.
My back gave me serious gyp over the last 10 miles and I am surprised that I finished in one piece, but I did. The ride back to the HQ also hurt, particularly as I wasn’t sure if I had actually broken my pb – but I had.
The winner clocked 56:46, I placed 116th out of 126 finishers and many records were broken in the event.
This was my last UK TT of the season. All being well, I hope to follow a similar programme next year. There will be room in my car for two more riders and bikes, so if you want to try some different courses and competition, please let me know. I expect to be planning and booking ferries and hotels in early January – the early bird catches the cheapest rates, so don’t leave your contact too late.
Total time 1:16:47
Average speed 23.2mph
Max speed 30.8mph
Average HR 185bpm
Max HR 204bpm
Av cadence 85rpm
Total ascent 501ft
Total descent 492ft