Egged on by my brother I put my name down for the Tour of Cambridgeshire TT – 28km on a “Sporting” course. When I heard that they’d accepted 700 entries, and first off was at mid-day I wondered how they were going to manage that! Well, chapeau to the organisers, I’ve never witnessed anything like it.
Firstly, it was 30 sec intervals. Secondly, we were organised into gender/age groups. Cruelly, we were put into age order – I say cruelly ‘coz I knew that everone who caught me would be older than me. Then it would be the 19-25 girls. Oh well! Finally, it was all on closed roads starting at the East of England showground. That much I knew in advance.
What I didn’t expect was the start. First, it was indoors, in a bike expo held at the Peterborough “Arena”. As we signed in, they chipped up our bikes, a mechanic took me into to the warm-up area in the hall, fitted my bike to a turbo (I’ve never used this sort of contraption before) and I joined 30 or so others for 20 mins pedalling on the spot and admiring the smooth styles of the lean looking guys and girls around. Surely not all my age group??? As my allotted start time approached I joined a little queue, up onto the start ramp and pretty soon it was 3-2-1 as the announcer took the p*ss out of my bike “He’s stuck firmly in 1988!”. Down the ramp (please please don’t fall off!), through the gaggle of bystanders, 80m through the hall and out the big doors.
That was the easy bit. Outside it was blowing a hooley and the choice of disc rear and Mavic tri-spoke on my retro steel Lo-Pro suddenly felt a bit stupid. Too late, get on with it. The gusts had blown over some of the steel barriers it was that hard. A couple of tricky roundabouts (“technical” they said) and off into the teeth of the wind. At 2 miles I was catching my half-minute man. Have I gone off too fast again? No, as I caught him the guy behind me came past us both. Then it was a question of plugging away on a nice rolling course, seldom daring to use the aerobars as the bike twitched around in the gusts. One by one the rest of my age group came past me, I just trundled on as best I could, labouring up some short but sharp hills.
Then came the run for home. Wow! 5 miles with that wind behind now, twiddling my little legs as fast as I could on 53×12, slowly clawing back a few yards on the last guy to catch me. A marshall cruised by on a motorbike. I knew what was about to happen. The first girl came through, absolutely flying. Then the second in hot pursuit. Across the line and my time was instantly displayed on the overhead gantry. 52:50 is about evens, not as fast as I’d have liked but better than I feared. Fair enough , I’ll just have to be happy with that.
Drag2zero scooped both the £1500 first prizes with Matthew Botterill doing 34:11, Julia Shaw (who is 50!) on 39:31. I got an energy gel. The big heros were the organisers. Fantastic.