Kilton – 17th April
The first Kilton of the year was greeted with a howling gale. With hindsight I shouldn’t have ridden it, but a combination of a record turnout from the club, and it being the first of the season, meant that I foolishly did. The wind was around 20-25mph across the course, with gusts probably hitting 30-40mph. The bike, with it’s 82mm rim front wheel and 101mm rim rear wheel, was almost uncontrollable, especially on the exposed sections or where a hedge gave way to a gate. Several times I nearly came off and it was absolutely terrifying. After the first mile I didn’t dare use the tri-bars and rode the rest on the handlebars. I also didn’t dare change gear too often, as that would mean moving a hand! I shan’t be riding in those conditions again, and therefore a time of 20:58 and 7th place was relatively surprising.
Manchester & District TTA 25 – 20th April
Another of the Cheshire Points series rides, this was a 25M ride round J2/9 Chelford. The weather seemed perfect, with sunshine and very calm, although it did get a little bit breezier as the day wore on. Great news for me as I appear to be sent off near the end in every TT I do these days! As usual I don’t get to warm up properly – certainly not with a turbo or rollers – and so the first 5 miles tends to be painful. After that I settle down into my rhythm and try to ride at around 175bpm, which is just below my threshold. As my average for the 25 miles was 174bpm I got it pretty much spot on. It was a great chance to go under the hour, one of my targets for the year – and I got agonisingly close clocking in at 1:00:31 seconds. A little bit of extra effort and I would have made it! The winner clocked something like 53 minutes.
Worryingly, between my skinsuit, my TT saddle and my position on the bike, something is not working and I suffered from some serious chafing at the top of my left leg. Very painful.
West Cheshire TTCA 30 – 21st April
So I finished the 25M TT on Saturday at 5pm, and then was up at 5-45am to get across to Prees Heath to ride my first 30M TT at 8-57am. As I drove over I have to say my legs were not feeling great, and I was short of my usual pre-TT enthusiasm. I decided to try to adjust my riding position on the saddle, as well as the liberal application of chamois cream, as I was worried about more chafing. I rode out to the start and tried to warm my legs. It was cold, maybe 5˚C, and a little bit breezy. If you’ve ridden an audax that stops at the Raven Cafe in Prees Heath then you’re close to the start. D30/12 starts on the A49, goes right around the first roundabout and onto the A41. There’s a longish, exposed section there, before a left onto the A53. This goes out to and back from the Market Drayton roundabout, coming back to and crossing the A41, before a long, horrible drag up the A53 to Espley roundabout. Rounding that, back down the hill to the A41 and then back to finish on the A49. My start time was one of the later ones, and even at that time on a Sunday morning the traffic was starting to build, including HGV’s and plenty of motorbikes. I didn’t really enjoy the course. Starting 3 behind me was Andrew Wilkinson, the UK 24hr TT record holder, and it wasn’t too long before he went past me!
My legs felt quite heavy and painful, but maybe because it was early morning my heartrate didn’t really get much above 170bpm (average 162bpm). I managed to get around 25 miles before the chafing became very painful. My neck and shoulders were also aching badly from holding the TT position – I hope that will go away in time. The last 5 miles were just a case of digging in and slogging it out. I finished in a time of 01:13:52 – Andy Wilkinson won with a time around 1 hour and 4 minutes.