Norlond Combine 30-mile TT F1/30. 1:09:04

Since the London Marathon, I’d had a few days rest and then got back on with catching up with my cycling while my stiff right quad problem was keeping me from doing quite so much running. I’d done a couple of audaxes, including a decent ride around the Heart of England 300k on 26th April [Garmin Connect]. Back in 2002 this was the first 300k I’d ever ridden, when I wasn’t even a member of Audax UK. I returned to ride it again in 2003, but hadn’t been back since. It was good to find that the route is largely unchanged since then. We were lucky with the weather too, even if it was a bit blowy coming back down the country from the loop around the Coventry area. For once, I wasn’t the first back but this was because my old Oxford chaingang friend Nik Gardiner had turned up. He’s much occupied with a young family these days but still keeps himself fit and strong and finished a good half an hour in front of me. It was good to catch up with him over a cuppa in the Parish Hall at the finish.

Sunday 4th May dawned cold and bright, with a light southerly breeze. I could see I was going to get cold so I wore long gloves and an extra layer underneath my old skinsuit. I rode fairly hard down to the first turn into the wind, and then cruised up to the top roundabout with a tailwind where Davey J was waiting with his camera:

OCRCHowardW347_ed OCRCHowardW354 OCRCHowardW357

From there to the finish was a hard 10 miles back into the breeze. I managed to lift my effort a little and crossed the finish line about a minute and a half slower than last year (a day with more favourable conditions). The top seeded rider had punctured, but the event was still won in a fairly rapid 1:05 and I’d finished 9th in a 38-rider field. I was reasonably happy with my ride – those cold conditions don’t suit me. [Garmin Connect]

I had enough energy to get out for a little run later in the day, and on the Bank Holiday Monday did another 200k ride. More miles in the bank, although I’ve also been mixing it up with some hard intervals.