Finsbury Park CC 25 mile open TT
Yesterday morning I raced in the Finsbury Park CC 25 mile open TT, on the F1/25 course (on the A1, in the area of Black Cat roundabout, if you know where that is). First 25 of 2014, and my second ever. F1 races have to be run early in the morning because of traffic levels, so I was off at 0732. Decided I would aim to average 280w, as that’s about 90% of my best 10 mile power. Bit of a breeze running from the south, and the course is mostly north-south so it was fast one way, slower the other.
80 names on the start sheet, including Mark Arnold, the newly-crowned national 12 hour champion. A few local fast riders were missing, probably owing to the national 25 champs also being run yesterday in Cumbria. For me it was about experimentation, since I don’t have much experience at this distance. The F1 course is not quick for a dual carriageway, and my only previous time (54:56) was set on the E2 near Newmarket, which is among the fastest in the country, I hoped that the improvements I have made since last year might enable me to beat that time. But I didn’t really have a target time in mind.
The first part of the race heads south on the A1, down to Sandy roundabout. I could feel the wind against, and tried to settle into a rhythm and push reasonable power. No difficulties at this point. Turned at Sandy and headed north for about 12.5 miles, up to Buckden roundabout. I had the wind behind now and it felt fast. I knew, though, that it meant I would be up against it for the final 9 miles or so. I was overtaking quite a lot of other riders, and feeling good.
The turn at Buckden was negotiated with no problems, but immediately I felt the wind. 9 miles of that to come. Suddenly the energy drained away. I was struggling a little to maintain the power now, which was a pity, since it’s better to push harder into the wind. I caught rider 29, Adriano Taverna of St Neots CC, but I struggled to get past. He put more power down as we went up a hill and I was stuck about 5 metres astern. You can’t draft other riders, so I had to either drop back, or push hard to get past. I managed to get past.
In the last few miles I found it hard, and just wanted it to end. I kept looking at the Garmin to see how much distance remained. Into the wind, speed had dropped from nearly 30mph northbound, down to around 25mph. Cruel that every mile was taking longer, just when the reserves were petering out.
So I crossed the line without much of a sprint, and made my way back to the HQ, which is quite a long and convoluted route. The aforementioned Mr. Taverna caught me up and introduced himself, we had a nice chat. I got changed, had a chat with my pal Mick Hodson, who lives just down the road and had turned out early to offer a shout of support. I’d seem him twice on the course in different places. It gives you a boost when you get a shout of encouragement, cheers Mick!
In the HQ to see my time on the board, 54:48. So I’d done a PB, by a narrow 6 seconds. I was a bit miffed at first, because I thought my Garmin had said 54:28. Of course it matters not a jot what time you think you did, the timekeeper decides. Anyway, when I got home I realised I’d read it wrong, and I agreed with the timekeeper after all! I’m sure he’s relieved. Good job I’d said nothing. With 60 of the 80 results known, I was in 2nd place, behind Nigel Hale of Herts Wheelers, who had recorded 54:32. A good ride, also a PB for Nigel I think. But the two favourites were still to come. Sure enough, Mark Arnold finished with 52:43 and then the final rider, Luke Clarke, bumped me down to 4th, with the 2nd fastest time of 53:48. But, with prizes down to 5th, I’d finished in the money for the first time! The kids are pleased, they can share the £20 between them 🙂
Overall I’m happy. I slightly exceeded the power I planned to produce, got a PB and felt I did all I could in the race. Mildly disappointed that it wasn’t good enough to get into the top 3, but of course that is down to others and outside of my control. Thanks for reading 🙂