After Hillingdon and the 19 on the club course the other week, I was feeling pretty confident about one of my big goals for the season, which was the CTT National 10 mile Champs.
I’ve ridden a fair few TT’s this year, and a slight tweak in position has meant I’ve gone pretty well, winning a fair few and breaking course bests most of the time I’ve been riding. The nationals this year was perhaps different to many others, mainly because it was being held on a slight variant of the V718 course, which is widely known as the fastest 10 course in the country. Many many people have gone there and found they went a lot quicker than their previous best. I’d not ridden it before, mainly as it was so far away (4-5 hour drive). But given this was the nationals, and it could be a chance to pb I thought it was worth a trip up there.
To make the trip a bit more of an occasion that just 8 hours in a car we went up to York on the Friday, staying till Monday, a nice town to visit, plenty to see and do. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking up the tower in the Minster before a race! The day of the TT rolled round and I was keen to get there early to get a lay of the land, I got there some 3 hours before my start having driven the course to make sure I knew it.
My goal was to be top 15, with a stretch goal of top 10, I knew this would be a big ask, given it was on this course it attracted the highest quality field that any event has seen I think. The event closed on a mid 20, which means that the slowest riders PB that was riding was a mid 20, i.e. over 28mph avg ten mile time trial. And there were 150 riders, so that gives you an idea of the general standard. To further give perspective, in my own club which has a considerable amount of riders (500 or so ) only the top 10 or so ten mile times of ALL TIME dating right back to 1995 for one of the oldest times (i.e. decades of time trials), one of being me, would have got a ride in this event. So it was sort of a ‘who’s who’ of the UK TT scene. And the only notable exception was probably Dowsett or Wiggins.
At the sharp end it would likely be between 10 times champion, Michael Hutchinson, young pro, national road and TT champ of Ireland Ryan Mullen – An Post team, and of course the flying postman that is Matt Bottrill!
Other contenders for the podium would be former KOM winner in the Tour of Britain Russ Hampton (who battered me a month or two back), former National HC champion Matt Clinton who is somewhat the all-rounder smashing course records left right and center while still being pretty handy on a climb, Andy Jackson who riding a futuristic looking Falco bike has been flying this year doing numerous 18 minute times and generally going very quickly at any distance he attempts. Beyond that there was the usual raft of talent, many of which had done the sub 19 and sub 50 for a 25 thing many times over. So to get top 15 or ten was going to be a tough one, but I always thought it was possible.
I was off nearish the end of the field and by the time I was heading out the standout time was Cambridge Uni and Kingston local Ed Bradbury with 18.15. Lopping a minute or more off his PB, remarkable stuff, he should go on to be a VERY handy road rider with his light frame and big engine, watch this space. I got to the start and wait to be set off. There could be no denying that I had ‘tapered’ for this event, and I felt pretty fresh (despite the ache in my right calf from the stairs to the tower, but it felt fine on the bike), the idea was to pace the ride well, up the tempo near certain parts of the course and then totally destroy myself on the last mile after the final turn.
As I headed down the sliproad I felt good, I had in the back of my mind not to go too hard, but 380-390w felt so easy so early, so I pushed on with caution, it was a quick day, I was at 32-34mph at all times on the way out. I came to the turn with an average speed of just shy of 33mph, up the slip road, round the double roundabout without losing too much speed, I felt good. There was now a shortish stretch of slight drag before the final dogleg onto the last mile, I was really pushing on now, and was holding around 390-400w up the slight drag, I got to within sight of the dogleg and the average was still looking good, I was fairly sure I was at least going to do an 18 minute time which was a goal too.
I got to eh dogleg and noticed to my horror a caravan and a car behind it were coming round at snails pace, I slowed down, and was just behind the car, who thankfully moved over to let me up the inside, the caravan however crawled for a bit before deciding it was turning right. I was pretty pissed off, but nothing you can do, it probably didn’t cost me much time. And actually it spurred me on to really drill the last section. And I did. I was in fact joint fastest over the last 1 mile with Ed Bradbury (of who is on Strava, which includes most of the riders). I stopped the clock in 18.46, which I was pleased with but knew would be a fairly middling time given Ed had done 18.15!
I got back to the HQ and the long wait continued, the times started to come in, as the tail-end of the field came in I was nudged out of the top 10, and slowly but surely started slipping towards the top 15, then Steve Irwin came in and had beaten me by one second haha! He took 15th in the end, and I was 16th. To be honest I was initially a bit annoyed, I’d been beating Steve by some margin all year, but I think likely on less flat and fast courses than this, so perhaps his superior aerodynamics really showed themselves today in what was a great ride on the back of his 18.19 last week!
I’d only have needed to find around 16 seconds to move from 16th to 8th, due to the closeness of the field, 16 seconds on a course like that is probably not all that much pending the traffic you get come by you, without the momentary caravan hold up, and a few more vehicles I think I’d have been in spitting distance, which really is all I can ask for at this point. Beyond 8th the class begand to shine and the times were a fair bit quicker, 17.40 took the win for Bottrill, with Mullen just 2 seconds back for Silver, and Vet Hutchinson came in with 17.53 to take the Bronze. Russ Hampton beat me by almost the exact same margin as he did at Bentley to take 4th with a stonking 17.58. Most people class doing a 19 as the golden stamp of ten mile time trialing, but in this event doing a 19 would have got you 86th place. No doubt this course was quick, but it wasn’t as quick as the regular version, I think the times speak for themselves, the scene has come on and the talent is exceptional.
Goals for next year I am unsure of, but I think I can improve on this, the road stuff will still be a focus next year, I think with a few tweaks, a bit more power, I can cement myself into that top 10 level. Maybe I should be happy with my ride, but part of what keeps me motivated is always seeking improvement.