“Cutting it fine in more ways than one”
The R25/7 at USK is nice. It’s an honest course, a bit like the S4, and needs to be worked at the whole way round.
I’d ridden this event last year and got 2nd, but had a poor ride due to the heat, and very quick dehydration. This years competition was likely to come from Rob Pears of Bath CC, a multi national vets champion and age group record holder.
Looking at the weather for this event it looked like it would be similar again – 24 degrees, high pressure and a strong X wind, so it was not going to be a record breaking ride whatever happened, but I decided to fit a bottle to the bike; something I usually only do for a 50.
I made travel arrangements with the ‘King of cutting it fine’ Ian Deakin, and suggested we left an hour earlier than his suggested departure time – I’m glad we did.
Traffic was awful, and the usual 2 hr drive took 3.5 hrs, meaning we arrived at 3.55 with Ian starting at 4.17 and me last man at 4.30.
A very rushed change and quick blast to the start unsettled my concentration, and the sun was immediately burning my back through the skin suit.
Into the race and I pushed on over the back part of the course into the wind, and whilst I was hot I didn’t feel in trouble, and my power was typical. After about 15 minutes I started to feel very very hot, and although I wasn’t breathing hard I could feel my heart pounding and my mouth was very dry and I started to take sips from the bottle. At the turn I was at around 31 avg with the harder return to come, so as I expected it wasn’t going to be my best ride. I emptied my bottle soon after and I felt like I was struggling a bit – one of those days where every gear feels either a bit too big or a bit too small, and I had to back the power right off as I thought my head was going to explode.
I gave it all I had and crossed the line in 50.15. Initial thoughts were it had been a bad day out and I suspected that I would have been beaten by Rob Pears, as my ‘numbers’ were way down. I saw Ian smiling after recording a season best 58.30 at the car, and he’d had a good ride, and then Rob approached me laughing and said ‘5 seconds mate’. I’d just crept by him to take the win, and my 12th this year. He’d had a similar experience with his power, but to a lesser extent as he’d emptied 2 litres of iced water over himself at the start to keep his core temperature low – wise man.