w/u + ride to start, 13½km
25 miles = 52:45 (28.436mph) __ HR169(175), Garmin ride profile HERE (no HR – I recorded that on my Polar bike ‘puter)
Ride back to HQ, 8km
Although my 2012 racing season was practically finished, I still had in mind that John French had nabbed my outright OCRC veteran record from me with a 52:51 clocking in this event in 2009. I knew that on the right day, on this fast Welsh course, that that was a time within reach although my two previous rides there had been in 2005, in the Tuesday evening open events they used to run on the H and L courses in the middle of the season, when the weather had transpired against me and the best I’d done was 55:01. I figured that I trained better these days, and my equipment was more refined, even if I’d done little more than pootle about for the last week or so.
I was very nervous on the drive over, so much so that I started to get a bit of a headache! Although I’d left Oxford in bright sunshine and light winds, in Wales it was overcast and the wind was getting up. I went to get my number 98 at the HQ and had a chat to Barry Quick, organiser of the Reading CC 50 I’d ridden earlier in the season. He’d just PB’d in the “overflow” event earlier in the day and told me I was sure to PB. Thanks for your confidence Barry!
I forced down an energy bar on my topsy-turvy stomach and washed it down with a last swig of coke before setting off on the 7 -mile ride to the start. I figured it’d take at least that long to get my head in the right space. Looking at the wind swirling about I left my front trispoke in the car and selected the Jet 6 instead. It’s a bit more stable in gusty conditions. Up at the top of the hill in Rhigos a few familiar faces were warming up – Ian Greenstreet and Paul Granger both exchanged a good luck with me. I put my overshoes on and then it was time to go.
The first 5 minutes are a bit up and down and the road surface isn’t too great, but then you hit the dual carriageway and the road just drops away on the “Glynneath Bank”. I caught my minute-man somewhere down here, although I wasn’t feeling too comfortable – I was having to do a little counter-steering and pedalling and hit a maximum speed of only 41.5mph. Apparently Michael Hutchinson freewheels the steepest bit. Once you’ve hit the McDonalds roundabout the descent has all but run out and the fun begins. There was quite a bit of headwind and I was aware I was probably working a bit too hard but I figured it was better to do it now and “hang on” for the tailwind finish (although I also remembered the last couple of miles of this course being quite hard). Go hard when it’s hard!
By the time I hit the far turn I was gasping a bit, but a quick glance at the Garmin on my wrist showed me I’d averaged 28.4mph to this point – bang on target. Justyn Cannon passed me soon after the turn, he was flying. This was soul destroying. There was sweat in my eyes and my legs were refusing to cooperate with the plan. I wanted the pain to stop but I still had another 15 minutes to go. Thankfully the wind was pushing me and my tired legs back up the valley and at the Resolven roundabout, halfway back, a quick glance at my watch showed 28.5mph average. As Justyn disappeared into the distance I was just hanging on, trying to conserve what little energy I had left. I got held up for a second or two at the last (McDonalds) roundabout as a car swung round, and then with a little sprint I was back up to speed for the final draggy mile and a half. As I hit the exit slip road I felt sure the record had fallen away but I pressed stop at the time keeper and saw 52:51. As I’d pressed “go” with a few seconds before the start, the record was, perhaps, mine after all. In any event, I’d done a massive personal best. (My previous best was 53:31)
A very slow ride back to the HQ, I felt really sick and dizzy, but once I’d recovered a little and changed and got inside I found I’d beaten John French’s ride by 6 seconds. Nearly all the cakes had gone, and it was all I could do to sip a cup of tea. Starting last, Michael Hutchinson had broken comp. rec. by 8 seconds with 45:46. A very impressive ride given that the conditions were not the best later on in the day when we were riding.
I still felt pretty dodgy all the way back home in the car and had to have a nap when I got back! A great way to finish off the season though. I’m off to give blood next Wednesday (I’m a regular blood donor); that should see the end of any “form” I may have!
Other local rider’s times [full Results]:
Ian Greenstreet (Newbury RC) 50:59
Eamonn Deeley (MidOxon CRT) 53:05
Paul Granger (Fairly United CT) 53:37
Paul Holdsworth (Hounslow & Dist Whls) 54:22
John French (Oxford City RC) 55:07