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By Neil Wood.
Now that we have committed to establishing a time trial element to the team, the newly acquired Jensen Button Specialized Shiv S-Works time trial bike has been in action. The first outing was a two weeks ago, but on a non CTT event. It was one of the Thursday evening pay on the line club events, run by Southport CC on the Tarleton 10 mile course, where I recorded a short 22. This is set to improve as it was the first ride on a new bike, and not yet correctly set up for me.
The first event proper was the North Lancs & Lakes VTTA 15 mile on the L153 course at Garstang on 9th May. The VTTA (Veterans Time Trial Association) is technically a veteran’s race but non veterans are also accepted. As I am over 40 years of age, I qualify as a veteran. The veteran’s races are split into 10 year age categories above 40. So I thought that this would be a perfect race for me start the season for the team, looking for a decent result as the entrants race in age category.
This one however was slightly different. Looking for a top 5 result was scuppered when I read the starting order and saw that Team GB under 23 team had entered eight of their riders in the event.
I got to the HQ at Winmarleigh village hall an hour in advance of my start time. I saw the British Cycling van in the car park and with the team milling around. I went to sign on and bumped into Team GB rider Chris Latham, who I already know. He is a local lad from Bolton, and sometimes joins Team Chronomaster on our winter training rides. I got chatting to him as well as his GB team mate, Scott Davies about the course. They are road racers and track cyclists so not ridden the course before, they were using the race as part of their training programme for the Tour of Berlin stage race at the end of May where there is a 15 mile time trial. I gave them a few tips on what to expect on the corners and where to expect the headwind.
The L153 course is triangular starting at Garstang, towards Cockerham, then Stakepool and returns to Garstang. I don’t like warming up on rollers, but prefer to cycle on the road, so I went for a 30 minute warm up ride to loosen the muscles and get my heart rate rising. The day was sunny and dry but breezy and a bit chilly. I got off to a steady start, slowly increasing my speed whilst my heart rate got up to around 168 to 170 where I am able to work well in this zone. All went well for the first four miles to Cockerham with my average speed at 26.4 mph. Then there is an easterly turn towards Stakepool which faces the Fylde Coast, locally known as “The Sands” where the headwind is relentless. The drag goes on for about 6 miles in this direction and my average speed slowed down to 24 mph with the 14 to 16 mph headwind knocking me in all directions.
Shortly after entering this road to Stakepool I was overtaken by Team GB cyclist Oliver Wood, (no relation). He started one minute behind me and I held him off for 10 minutes, which is about what I was expecting to happen from one of Britain’s best cycling talents. Whilst the headwind was pretty tough for me, it seemed to have no effect whatsoever on this young Team GB cyclist as he overtook and glided away from me with consummate ease.
At Stakepool, there is another left corner to return back towards Garstang, and a very relieving tailwind. Having put a lot of effort in battling the headwind, my legs were tired and was not able to put maximum effort in for the home leg, but did manage to bring my average speed back up to a half respectable, just under 25 mph.
For my efforts I won the 1st veteran 40 category and was 11th overall, with a prize of £8. The 1st overall was Scott Davies who is the under 23 national time trial champion, so this race was going to make him hard to beat. In the process of winning, he set a new course record of 31:21. Second overall is our occasional winter training partner, Chris Latham, and the remaining Team GB riders taking all of the top positions. It was a great day out, I was pleased with the result and it was a great experience competing with the British elite.
Photos kindly submitted by Ellen Isherwood and Chris Leigh.
Many thanks to the @VTTA North Lancs and Lakes for hosting this event