As Lucinda and I rode to the start it was clear that conditions were not ideal, there was a headwind coming from the West and the roads were damp, not to mention the fact that the Met Office was convinced it would rain from the start time of 2pm. Nevertheless around 45 people turning up to sign on in Brickendon Village Hall, eat cake and drink coffee. I was keen to try and get off early before the weather changed too much, so lined up and was given number 9. Number pinned on and bottle half full it was time to warm up, a few miles up and down the road to get the legs moving again and I then found myself on the start line in a que of riders.
My form of late seems to be good, even though I am not riding much because of work, and only getting out at the weekend for a few hours on one day. I guess you could probably say I'm well rested, if nothing else. My aim for this event was a time around the 22min mark, I knew I wouldn't be looking at a PB (21:48) given conditions, so anything around this level would be good, and of course depending who was riding would probably place me in the top 5 times of the day.
The F7/10 course is essentially a 3 miles downhill, followed by a nasty 2 mile flat section due East along Hertford Road, then up Robins Rest, a 1 mile climb, only averaging 4% but this can be where you either gain or loose alot of time. From then it's mainly flat back into Bayford & Brickendon for the final hill sprint finish of 0.3 miles at 5% a real leg burner at the end. Total distance is just shy of 10 miles though at 9.1. Certainly what the CTT would class as a sporting course (hilly)
I was off, and quickly upto speed, holding around 30mph, which as I said above is a gradual downhill certainly sounds more impressive than it is. Still my goal on this section was to be as aero as possible and conserve as much energy as possible, legs obviously now burning, but I felt really good and I reach the junction with Hertford Road having averaged 30.4mph for the 2.8 miles. The next mile was hard, teh headwind and general road conditions were slow, I could see the average speed going down, however I maintained by aero position and ploughed on, at which point I could see a rider ahead, no worries I thought, however there were also two cars behind the rider, and given the nature of the road were finding it hard to overtake in a safe nature. I reached reached the cars which were going maybe 20mph, nightmare! Fortunately I was only slowed down briefly as a gap opened up and I went around. Settled back into my rhythm for a few hundred yards and it was then a left turn onto Robins Nest. The lower "slopes" are certainly the steepest, still only 6% however in an effort to increase my power I was out the saddle and managed to maintain a decent speed, once over the steepest section I was back in the saddle and maintaining the aero position, the worst was over now, and by this point i'd done 6.4 miles in 15:32, not bad, but not a PB time. The last section is mainly flat, and once onto Tylers Causeway I pushed and managed to hold a consistent 27-29mph, final 1 mile and I was into Bayford, I had 0.8 miles to cover in just shy of 2 minutes, a PB could actually be on the cards here I thought! I hit the final Brickendon Hill onto the drops, pulling and willing the bike to float up the hill. I couldn't see my Garmin let along read the numbers, head down, sprinting and hurting, I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin. 21:45! Awesome a PB!
Warm down and back to the man with a clipboard for my official time. 21:41! I was chuffed, 7 seconds take off my PB and quickest time so far. All riders completed the course and to my surprise I was quickest of the day.
Looking into my data and ride in a bit more detail, I was interested to see where I saved time, and this to my surprise was on the first and last sections of the course. Upto Hertford Road I saved 15 seconds off my previous best time, and this being a gradual down hill was mainly achieved by being as aero as possible. My times on both Robins Rest and Hertford Road were not PBs, but 2nd and 3rd best times, however yet again on the final section into Bayford and Brickendon I managed to knock off another 12 seconds.
This was on a standard road bike, no aero additions (apart from a skinsuit) normal wheels etc... I reckon with the same set up I can probably go sub 21:20 on a perfect day, and that is indeed my next goal.
So my first win of the year and a PB, overall happy with my effort and the results. Well done to Neal, James, Nancy and Rachel who also wont their respective categories.
Special thanks to London Phoenix and Islington CC for hosting the event, all the marshals, the various bakers (the cake was amazing as per usual) and tea/coffee makers and finally Islington Council for the prizes!
Strava Data: http://www.strava.com/activities/208790282