In addition to winning a National TT medal, another of my late season aims was to break the female course record on my local 10 course at Bottisham. When I first started cycling I hated this course; despite living in one of the flattest parts of the country, there is a steep bridge about 2.5 miles in which makes the course quite slow. Believe me, when you weight 90kgs+ as I did when I started cycling, that bridge is really tough going! I seemed to “crack it” last year though when I finished 2nd in the University Championship (BUCS) 10 – now I love the course and use it to judge my form and how well I’m TT-ing. The record that I wanted to beat was 23.12, set in 2010 by Mathilde Matthijsse at the BUCS 10 mile Championship. Mathilde has since gone on to finish in the top 10 at the Dutch National TT Championships and also won the Tour Ta Malta this year so she is a very strong rider. I had 3 opportunities in August to beat her record and so was hoping for good conditions on at least one of these occasions! The first was at a Team Cambridge 10 on Wednesday 14th August. I had a slightly stressful hour before heading over to the event, having to “Un-UCI” my P4 by changing the seatpost and putting the bottle cage back on. Although these sound like simple tasks, no job on the P4 ends up being simple and changing the seatpost was no exception! Despite this, I got to the event with some time to spare for a warm up and although the wind was a little higher than had been predicted, it was still relatively low for Bottisham. I felt good in warm up and was confident of putting in a good performance in my first TT in 2 months. Sure enough, with about 2 miles to go I checked my garmin and found that I was on track for a short-23. I gave it everything I had and crossed the line in 23.07, having beaten the previous record by 5 seconds!
Another local club was holding a TT on the same course the following day, which I opted to forego in favour of training. However, I returned to Bottisham the next Wednesday, 21st August, to see if I could better my record in the last evening 10 of the season. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the course I discovered that I had left the arm pads from my tribars at home, having taken them off to dry-out after a particularly sweaty turbo session. With no time to retrieve them, I decided to toughen up and race without them, hoping that the pain in my legs would mask any pain in my arms! When I was getting ready to race, Laura Massey turned up to sign on. Massey has been TT-ing a lot more this season and is a really strong rider who is well suited to the Bottisham 10 course so I knew I would have to ride hard to defend my record. The first 5 miles of the course is much slower than the return 5 and so when I reached the turn in just over 12 minutes I knew I was riding well. Unfortunately, I then discovered that the return leg would be into a fairly brisk headwind – time to toughen up! I forgot all about my lack of arm pads and pushed as hard as I could to the finish…and was rewarded with a 22.54. Massey crossed the line in 23.02, beating the record I had set the previous week so it was a good job I turned up to race!
Bottisham 10 results from the final evening TT of the season:
Massey and I had a rematch scheduled for the August bank holiday when we were both racing the VC10 event on the F11/10. When I first raced this course in June I recorded a PB of 21.02 in driving rain and fairly strong crosswinds so I was looking forward to seeing what I could do in better weather. The F11 is a favourite of time triallists, being a very fast but relatively safe course on the A41. As a result, events on the course are always oversubscribed and there is a lot of pre-race chat about them on the timetrialling forum. The VC10 event was no exception. First, there were complaints about the fact that all (24) female entries had been accepted, regardless of previous time, whilst the men’s cut-off time was a long-21. I am proud to say that my PB would have guaranteed me entry into the event, female or not. Secondly, lots of people were talking about the road surface. The course is on a border between two different counties, one of which is good at maintaining its road and the other of which is not. As a result, the first 2 miles is terrible, with numerous potholes and cracks in the tarmac spreading across both carriageways. Since June, the fast, smooth section of the course has been (unnecessarily) resurfaced with chippings, deadening the surface, whilst the awful section at the start remains untouched. Thirdly, and finally, there was a lot of talk about wind direction. When I rode the course in June the wind was strong, but in the “right direction”. Although the forecast for wind speed for the bank holiday was low, it was in the “wrong direction”. I thought about it and decided that low wind would surely be better than high wind from a certain direction – bring on a fast ride!
The conditions on the day were lovely – bright and sunny (if anything perhaps a little too warm) with fairly low wind (only about 9 mph). I had a good long warm-up and arrived at the start, the last of the women to go off, feeling ready to race. I thought I was going quite well and pushing myself hard but when I looked down at my garmin for time checks I found that I was actually going slower than in June! The newly chipped section of road felt dead and draggy under my wheels and the head-wind for the final 2 miles, although not actually that strong, made life really tough. I was gutted when I crossed the line in 21.49, convincing myself that there was no way I could win the women’s event with that time and that I had somehow lost form. Of course I was just being pessimistic and it turned out that I was the only woman on the day to ride sub-22 (Massey finished 2nd, 12 seconds behind me). So it seems that sometimes the TT forum does speak the truth – that course is actually much faster with a strong wind than a low one, provided it is in the correct direction.
Photo from the VC10 event on the F11/10:
Some good TT-ing results for the month, proving that I was on good form - bring on the final few races of the season!