I started off with the Ross-on-Wye 10 on the R10/17 (A40 south of Abergavenny for those who have yet to learn CTT speak).
This is a nice reasonably quick course – dual carriageway with light traffic on a smooth concrete surface. No slip roads or junctions with just a large roundabout for the turn. Start and finish are opposite each other and there are only a couple of light drags each way – no leg-breakers.
HQ was eight miles from the start, so didn’t bother with the turbo for my warm-up – just a nice steady ride in about 31 minutes.
The weather forecast had suggested 14 knot tail to the turn, then a bit of a struggle back – wrong again!
I set off and settled in nicely, HR up to 190+ quite soon and got on with the job. I turned (halfway point) in 12:40, so not going too bad but was expecting a harder ride back- it didn’t happen, only taking 12:41 for the return for 25:21 total time. This left me with a ‘plus’ of 4:18 for the vet’s event.
Average HR was about 190 with a max of 201 – good figures for me.
Outright winner was Kieron Davies with a time of 19:02 which would indicate that we had a pretty good day. Rob Pears of Procycling Magazine won the Vets on Standard with a ‘plus’ of 6:41.
I placed 95th in the scratch competition and 37th in the vets.
The following morning featured the Ross-on-Wye 25 on the Usk course – A472-A449-A40 (Usk-Monmouth and back). Dual carriageway apart from the start (a ‘gift’ hill) and the finish.
HQ is outside the prison, so we all have to behave ourselves. The surface is generally pretty smooth, apart from the turn after the Monmouth tunnels when the ‘old’ A40 is used for about 2.5 miles – twisty and up and down, so you need to watch where you ride and tackle the ups and downs fairly aggressively.
I started off fairly steadily on the ‘gift’ hill, being careful on the curves on the way to the dual carriageway, and then settled down into my rhythm.
Just like the previous day’s ‘10’, the course has no stiff drags on it and a tester can just get on with their ride with few obstacles.
My legs, however, remembered the previous day’s 10 and let me know that I had raced previously, so it was a matter of pacing myself with what I had.
Got my HR up to circa 180 within a mile or so and held on with that until the 17 mile point, when some fatigue appeared and it dropped to about 160.
The turn is a little tricky, as it involves a roundabout adjacent to a garage and we had been warned not to go for any Strava personals through that section due to possible diesel on the road (it was damp as well!).
I went through the 12.5 mile point in 29:51, just inside the hour on an even pace.
Everyone found out why they were quick to the turn when they discovered the headwind return – my final time being 01:04:37, for my fastest ride this year. This gave me a Vets plus of +11:06.
This got me 42nd on scratch (53 finishers) and 15th on VTTA standard – not a bad result for me.
Overall winner was Kieron Davies with 48:36 – winner on age standard was Chris Scawn with a ‘plus’ of14:22.
The following Tuesday saw me riding the Port Talbot Whs 10 on the R10/22A – effectively the turn end of the fabled Welsh 25 ‘super course’.
It was wet which saw quite few DNS’s.
I rode and had a poor ride – probably started too hard and felt my legs go to lactic in the first mile!
Conditions were very even out and home – virtually no wind at all, which I significantly failed to take advantage of.
Consequently, my time of 26:01 was rather disappointing, as was my ‘plus’ of only 3:38.
Winner was Kieron Davies again in 19:27, whilst the Vets standards was won by Clare Greenwood with a ‘plus’ of 5:42.
My placings were 67th and 30th respectively!
The final event of my trip was the London Vets 10 on the F11/10 (Tring By-pass).
This is a really nice event on a Wednesday afternoon (ideal for retired cyclists?).
Sergio had also entered this one, but was off No 148, against my start of 54, so he was due a long wait for his ride.
Weather was nice – a light wind and bright sunshine.
I set off towards the first turn at two miles – a double roundabout which is a bit tricky as the approach to the first has no visibility to the right. Fortunately we had an efficient marshal who was able to indicate that the road was clear. The second roundabout – 200 yards later had only one marshal covering the four exits (he covered the second). I took the next and rapidly realised that I had taken the wrong one! (The road was far too steep). I managed to turn in the road after some hesitation and much muttering under my breath and returned and took the correct exit (there was a complete absence of direction arrows).
So, back on to the dual carriageway and got on with the job.
Another two miles and the slip road back to Aston Clinton came into view (the course stays on the dual carriageway). Also coming into view was a police car, blue lights flashing together with a line of cones across the road and a road closed sign.
It turned out that rider No 5 had been in the process of catching his 2 minute man when he heard a loud bang and was catapulted through the air and into the other rider, both crashing to the ground the second rider having been hit from behind by a car, whose driver had not seen him! This despite a nice bright day and lots of visibility.
Upshot was that the police closed the road and the event was abandoned.
One rider broke his collar bone; the other has possibly broken some vertebra. I have no further information as to the ongoing prognosis.
Racing in the UK is no more dangerous then Guernsey – just the traffic moves a lot faster. This incident occurred on a quiet dual carriageway, with plenty of visibility and several warning signs placed around the course, but there is nothing to stop poor levels of driving anywhere.
We all need to keep our wits about us when out on our bikes – more people die in bed!