North Lancs RC Spoco – 28 mile Hilly TT (Circuit of Pendle)

By John Bamford

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Having ridden the Rossendale Hilly Spoco event the previous week I was keen to test my legs on a longer circuit so the Circuit of Pendle Spoco, organised by North Lancs RC, was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

With Craig and Nick riding the event too, we had a real chance of competing for the team prize along with a good placing or two in the individual event.

For those who don’t know the circuit, the TT starts on Accrington Rd just to the East of Whalley and tracks through Read and Simonstone to the outskirts of Padiham. A rolling section but the traffic can be a bit hit and miss through this section. The course then begins to kick up as it heads NE through Higham to Barrowford. A flat section through the village before the main climbing starts through Blacko, summiting around Greystone before a nice descent to Gisburn. The final stretch along the A59 is pretty much rolling with a couple of uphill drags and a nice descent past Sawley. The circuit continues past the turnings for Clitheroe before the final LH turn and back onto Accrington Road, Whalley.

I arrived in good time at the HQ, Oakhill College, a nice venue with plenty of parking and already riders were prepping their turbos and pinning their numbers to their skinsuits. I had been a bit apprehensive as when I left the house just after 7.30am it was frosty and snowing…. Not good signs.

I headed over and collected my number, only to be told the race was delayed by an hour due to black ice on the exposed section near Blacko. Great I thought…… It’s Mother’s day, I’m on a tight schedule and now we have to hang about for an extra hour! A quick call to the missus…. And afternoon plans re-jigged. Sorted!

The hour passed quickly enough with me, Nick and Craig lounging about in the college cafeteria putting the world to rights. I wished the guys good luck, and headed out to warm up and do all the usual pre race shenanigans.

Due to the weather there were a number of DNS’s and my minute man was a non starter….suffice to say if there was going to be a carrot dangling in front, it would take me a while longer to see it! A short time later I’m getting the 10 second countdown from the starter…… Then I’m off….

I knew the ride was going to be at least a 70 minute effort so I tried to pace it well….. the first 10 mins was going to be just below threshold, then gradually up the ante and try and hold on as long as I could. It pretty much panned out like that…. If anything I probably went off too conservatively, but I’d rather have it like that than go too hard and blow with several miles to go!

The later start meant the traffic on the roads was a bit heavier and I got held up through Simonstone… not good in a TT when you have to hit your brakes on a flat section of road for cars turning right… but that’s the luck of the draw….. maybe Karma would mean I would get a nice Tractor passing me at 30 miles per hour on the A59 later on in the ride. LOL!!

The next few miles were uneventful and I just put my head down and rode through the lactate that was beginning to build up in the legs….. At Barrowford, not one, but two red lights on pedestrian crossings had me cursing my luck yet again….. That bloody tractor better show up later I thought!

The climb through Blacko was tough but getting a few cheers by the side of the road is always a good motivator….. I finally crested the climb and took the chance on the descent to have a few moments of recovery to ease the pain building in the legs.

I hit the A59, and was thankful that it was a slight tailwind. I popped a gel and just gave it everything I had. A nice wide road means you can just concentrate on turning the pedals and this section of 8 or 9 miles seemed to go in no time at all.

I crossed the line in 1:13:06 (23rd), happy enough but knowing it could have been quicker. I got back to HQ to find Nick had finished 13th in 1:09:52, and Craig 11th in 1:09:00. Craig had finished 2nd in a 2up 25TT the day before so was feeling fatigued today…..but all in all a good team effort and enough to finish as 1st Team.

The event was won by James Gullen in a time of 1:00:06, breaking the course record by 1 minute and 32 seconds…. A fantastic ride!

As always, thanks to the organiser, Pete Briscoe, all the marshals, helpers at HQ, time keeper and the rest of the NLRC team whose help make these events possible. Also thanks to all the photographers out on the circuit.

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