The women’s 25-mile club record has been an elusive one for me, firstly because it’s not something I thought I’d be worrying about when I started time trialling, and secondly because the club weren’t 100% sure what it was! With Dave Fearon saying “I’m sure Jackie White dipped under the hour in the 80s!” However, as I’ve improved the last few years I decided I wanted it, and that if the club weren’t sure of the time except that it was 59 minutes-and-something, I’d just have to ride a really fast 25!
The R25/3H is definitely the course to do this on. Last year I rode there on an awful weather day for time trialling and managed a mid-59. In July this year I rode there and managed a 58:55, which was a good time, and enough for a record, but I drove home disappointed as I knew I was on a bad day and could do better.
On Sunday the 18th August, I had my second attempt at the course this year, and Sam his first as we’d entered together and travelled from friends’ in Gloucester. The course is an out and back starting at Hirwaun industrial estate and heading West to a roundabout, then taking the first left onto the A465 and heading East, until the turn back at 15 miles in. As the first 5 miles is downhill, this means the course finishes just before the road tips up again to get back to the car. It’s the fastest 25 mile course in the country and always has a strong field of serious TTers heading out for PBs, with a few Elite women this year joining the 49 minutes, 30mph club on it.
After warming up next to a shabby building on the industrial estate, it was time for attempt two…
That day was a headwind out day, so I built up some speed on the way out to the roundabout, held on for dear life into the headwind downhill, at which point it started raining heavily which wasn’t fun; then tried to stay as aero as possible and hold as much of my average as I could on the rolling bypass to the turn back, whilst also hoping my visor would de-fog itself. About 10 miles in I was caught by my minute lady Anastasia Bowler (AS Test Team), who came past quite quickly but then seemed to slow once she was about 10m ahead, so I tried to keep her at a reasonable distance to spur myself on, which didn’t really work as she gradually edged away. Aside from this I didn’t pass anyone and wasn’t passed by anyone else. My minute lady was from Team Bottrill so I was never going to see her again! And as it turned out I’d reached the turn back at a 26.4mph average (1.5mph faster than a month ago) so I was going pretty well…relief!
I managed a gel on the long ramp up off the bypass and took the final roundabout back. I’m not entirely sure how I lost so much time to Anastacia Bowler though as she’d been insight ahead of me heading up off the bypass, but come the ramp back down I couldn’t see her at all anymore! Anyway, I knew I was on for a good one if I could make the most of the tailwind and build up my average speed on the way home. As I headed back, the sun came out and I took this as a good omen, telling myself to shut up and concentrate if I really wanted it. I gritted my teeth and pressed for 10miles, glimpsing a flying Sam as I went, and finishing with my Wahoo saying 57:05 and a thoroughly empty tank.
After I plodded up the painful 5miles back I sat by the car and waited for Sam to come in. I enjoyed my few quiet little minutes digesting that I’d done so much better than last time. The event organisers had been kind to us and put me at the back of the junior and ladies event field, and Sam early in the men’s so we were only about 10minutes apart setting off. Sam came back in and I could tell without asking he’d spent himself! He was also pretty chuffed with a “mid-lowish 51, fast course that isn’t it!”.
As we were packing the car up, a picture message from Lynsey came up showing our times were already on the board at the HQ. Lynsey had had an earlier start than us and had clocked a fab PB of 01:02:25 (WVCC vet gold standard), having also clocked a 10TT PB the day before on the Sportzmad R10/17, coming in 5th lady with a 24:56 (also vet gold). A brilliant weekend for Lyns who is improving all the time.
Sam’s official time: 51:14, a PB by about 4minutes and only around half a minute shy of Lee Suthard’s club record of 50:33, set on the J5/8 Stone Wheelers course. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that the 25 record is an aim for Sam now, and not one which is far out of reach either.
The fastest man on the day was Henry Latimer (Didcot Phoenix CC) with a 48:10. Second went to local man Alexander Royle (Manchester Bicycle Club) with a 48:26 and third to Paul Jones (Primera-Teamjobs) with a 49:31.
My official time was 56:56! I was so pleased with this, especially as dipping under 57 minutes was a surprise to me. I think it’s fair to say the club record is officially mine now and I’m delighted to add that to my 100TT record from last month.
The fastest lady on the day was my minute lady, Stephanie Post (Team Bottrill) who rode a 52:01. Second went to Michelle Lee (PDQ Cycle Coaching) with a 53:16 and third was Angela Carpenter (a3crg) with 53:39. Anastasia Bowler was edged into 4th with a 53:56, and must have had a fantastic home leg. I came 7th, which I can’t complain about in such a strong field.
After that it was just a case of a 3hr drive home. Thank heavens Sam drove as my quads throbbed all the way back. I had to console myself with some brie from an M&S in the services.