Saturday was a 31 mile hilly around Towcester and the A5. I’ve done this course a couple of times. It was one of my first ‘long hillies’ back in 2005. It’s a testing course with one tough climb and quite a few of the typical twisty lanes. Right in the middle of Towcester, the A5 have there own club room, which is pretty impressive for a local cycling club – beats hiring the local village hall.
A welcoming sight for those returning from the race. The cup of tea and cakes.
As you would expect from a local cycling club, there is quite a bit of cycling memorabilia. On that wall, I saw the results from the national Junior 10 mile and 25 mile time trial from different years. The winners of those years included Stephen Cummings 1999 (Birkenhead Wheelers) and Chris Boardman. Both riders have subsequently gone onto even greater things than winning the UK junior 10 mile TT. But, it’s a nice reminder how the local club scene can play an important role in supporting tomorrow’s pro-cyclists.
(I think year was mid 1985) Colin Sturgess (2nd) wasn’t bad either – he went on to be world pursuit champion. (Colin Sturgess)
Despite heavy rain, before and after, the race was mercifully dry, making it reasonably respectable for early March. It was quite windy though, which was great on the way to the turn. With a strong tailwind, I was flying up the A5 making use of that big TT gear of 56*11. At the furthest point in Weeden, you turn off the A5 and take a twisty section through the village before coming to a tough climb out of the village. By this point, you’ve gone all the way from 56*11 down to close to your lowest gear 39*21 as you grovel up the climb. At the top of the climb, there’s no respite as a stiff headwind makes the lumpy return leg hard work.
My first lap was 36.20. The second lap 36.14, making it remarkably consistent. Usually, I tire in second lap. Part of the reason was that it is quite technical course. On the first lap I had forgotten quite a few corners and was taking it a litte careful on the damp roads. On the second lap I felt I went much faster on the tailwind section really enjoying being blown up the A5.
Matt Bottril, last years 100 mile TT champion, won the event in 1.10.19. I was second 1.12.34. That made me three minutes quicker than 2005! I think this is the third time I’ve finished second in the A5 hilly 31 mile TT. But, I did receive a very nice £30 cash, plus commemorative brick, which will come in very useful when repaving my drive. Not many people can repave their drive with a plaque which says they came second in a 31 mile TT.
The A5 Rangers 31 TT, a bit like Paris Roubaix, in that if you win you are awarded a brick. (Tom Boonen lifts Paris-Roubaix)
Matt Bottrill picking up his winning brick from organiser Stephen Cockell. I spoke to Matt after the race. His main targets for this year are the national 10 and 25 mile TT. Matt works as a postman and is not sure he can find time to train for 100 mile this year. There must be some parts of England, with a very speedy postman, is all I can say.