Today is said to be Super Saturday – World Cup football in Brazil, Test Cricket from Lords, tennis from Queens, US golf open in Pinedales and a few amateur cyclists having a go up and down the Witney Bypass. Spot the odd one out.
Yes, it’s the Oxford City R.C. 10 mile TT, based on the H10/181 course. Designed by the late Chris Hart – an enthusiastic member of the London West Cycling District; Chris also helped me with my first promotion on this course a few years ago. I’ve promoted three events on this course for my club Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team, each time it went well, though conditions were never easy. It always seemed to be a cold windy May Sunday morning, but today, by contrast, it was very good.
The H10/181 is one of my local courses. I like it because it’s a simple ‘honest’ course. 5.5 miles out, round a roundabout and 4.5 miles back. Road surface is good, traffic moderate, but not excessive and no intermediate roundabouts. Just one at the turn by Minister Lovell. There’s a slight height advantage, though nothing like other super fast courses, which descend a lot more. Also, the unequal distance out and back mean that it’s always going to be faster when the wind is coming from the East.
Today, conditions were good. Warm, dry and most importantly a lightish North Westerly wind. The hope is that the wind would give a little help up the long uphill section, but not be too invasive on the way back.
I parked in Barnard’s Gate and cycled up to North Leigh. I assumed the HQ would be in the same HQ that we used. But, that was locked, and no one in North Leigh seemed to believe there was another hall in the village. I cycled back to Barnard Gate hoping to see some fellow cyclist. I have turned up for an event on the wrong day in the past – and often it’s the local courses where you don’t bother to check so much because you think you must know. Fortunately, by the time I got back someone else had parked there. I got some directions to another small village hall in North Leigh and cycled back up Cuckoo Lane. It is one of the most picturesque rides from HQ to the start, though by the time I got my number, I’d clocked up quite a few miles. I didn’t bother with rollers – too hot anyway.
On the way out, it felt reasonably good. I wasn’t sure how to pace it – The Out leg was uphill with slight tailwind. Back would be downhill with slight headwind – so I tried to do an even pacing all the way around. I do sometimes wonder how much use a power meter is. I seemed to find it hard to keep power constant today. I might have been better off just racing on feel, it was distracting looking at computer.
I know roughly where the 5 mile point is because I used to put a 5 mile board there myself. At 5 miles I saw a 9.58 on my Garmin, which was OK for the uphill section. Going around the roundabout I was pleasantly surprised to find it was even quicker coming back. I didn’t notice any strong headwind and it was quite fast all the way back.
I went through the finish in 19.24, which was a bit of surprise. I’d hoped to do a 19 and sneak under 20. But, to break the course record by 2 seconds was a bit of a surprise. It is the first time I’ve done a ’19’ on a course which isn’t the V718 (fastest course in the land).
There was a low entry to this race because over 250 riders had entered the nearby Hemel Hempstead 10 on the super-fast (because it goes downhill) F11/10, near Aylesbury. I didn’t enter the F11/10 because it’s further to travel, but also I have never really benefited from the downhill nature of the course. My best on the F11/10 is 20.00. The other time was a 20.12.
- Av. power: 330 watts
- Out leg: 341 watts (ignoring 1st mile)
- Return leg 324 watts
Robin Commber of Procycling Magazine RT also got a rare 19, squeezing under 20 mins with a 19.57
Back at HQ
Back at the HQ I quizzed some old timers about riding 12 hour time trials. The organiser Howard Waller is down to ride tomorrow’s 12 hour TT organised by Newbury R.C. I nearly entered myself. Howard’s done quite a few 12s over the years. I also spoke to Keith Williams, Oxford City RC’s super vet. He’s been riding 12 hour TT, decades before I was even born. Keith said that when he was young an older clubman told him to think of 12 hours like the season’s medicine. – They are really hard at the time, but after doing one you get super fitness. Well, I hope a 12 hour gives super form for the hill climb season.
I also spoke to Will Bamber of VC Norwich. Will had already done one 10 earlier that morning. He is hoping to do an event in every CTT district this year. With the hill climb season, I often come close, just missing out on the extreme South West, good luck.