By Jon Fowles
On Sunday I woke up early and drove over to Blaze ice cream farm in the peak district… not for an ice cream and a visit to the cows, but to ride the Manchester Bicycle Club Mountain TT. This year the course had been extended to two laps, and is part of the SPOCO time trial series. The course starts near the Cat and Fiddle and begins with a fast descent before taking a left onto a short climb and dropping down through Gradbach, over a tight narrow bridge and onto a long climb up to Flash. You descend after Flash and then take a left climbing back towards the Cat and Fiddle. Two laps of this totals 27 miles and over 1000m ascent. With so much climbing, and such technical nature of the course, it’s hard to tell if the winning time will come from a a time trial bike or a road bike…or maybe a road bike with clip on bars.
I opted for a standard road bike, as I’d use for road racing, so at least I’d be eligible for the road bike category!
At 0910 I rolled off the start line and onto the descent, not wishing to burn too much energy early on, I begant with a steady pace and got as aero as possible on the fastest part of the descents. I used my road bikes advantages to their full extent and nailed the corners at full gas and went hard up the climbs. The first time up the longest climb to Flash I set a good hard tempo, a pace that would probably explode me after 15 minutes, but I knew I would get some rest on the descents.
I came past the start/finish line and onto my second lap after 35 minutes, slightly longer than I was expecting… but I continued to push on. The exposed section before the descent had a strong cross wind, which could possibly work to my advantage if the riders on TT bikes were too uncomfortable to ride on the extensions.
I pushed hard on the climb to Flash, but my power was down from the previous lap. Maybe I had gone out too hard! On the rolling section before the descent to the final climb I passed some riders on TT bikes and had a small resurgence in pace and morale; but once I hit the final climb, after an hour of hard effort, I was really struggling. There wasn’t long left, and I battled on towards the finish line, ending with a time of 1:12:30. I was fairly pleased with the effort I had made, but still thought I could have squeezed a little more out.
After rolling back to the headquarters (and having some coffee and cake), the final timings revealed that I had come 5th overall and 2nd in the road bike category. The winning time was 1:08:28 by Matt Moorhouse on a TT bike and was very closely followed by Dan Evans with a 1:08:32 on his road bike.
Many thanks to everyone in Manchester Bicycle Club who organised the event, and thanks to everyone at Blaze ice cream farm… it really is the best TT and best HQ for around. I had some amazing ice cream too!