Better late than never?
Last week was the Redhill 18, another of the early season sporting events that take place in the cold winter months. Last week went well with winning the Kingston Wheelers event, this week had a tougher field with the inclusion of a few handy riders. That said, there was only a couple I was thinking would really be tough to beat, Chris McNamara from Pedalheaven, not least as he’s a very strong roadman, which would aid him in not only being light, but also being able to man handle the bike over what is a course slightly more tricky to master in parts than your average TT course. And then Wouter from Sigma who in 2011 set the course record for this event with an average speed well over 27 mph, which is quite frankly staggering considering the course.
I got down there nice and early and it was pretty cold, greasy roads were the order of the day, again, and I was interested to see just how mucky some of the back lanes were. The upside to this course over the Kingston one for me is that it has a fair bit of dual carriageway at the end, and with a slight course diversion there was even more than normal, some 4 mile of DC, and one I know well as its also used to the KW club ten.
I was off towards the back-end of the field and quickly I was faced with Coast Hill which is only a couple of minutes in, not a big climb, but on a heavy TT bike a 2.5 min steep climb so soon is never pleasant. I got up and over without much issue but the first of a few hold ups took place shortly after, I’d caught my minute man already and a car was dithering with overtaking him, not ideal.
I managed to pass and got on towards the long drag up to Abinger Hammer, I felt pretty good and was going ok, I’d checked previous times to get an idea what sort of average speed I would need to do well here, and it seemed that an average around 26.5 mph would see me up there. With that in mind I had a target at least, I don’t like racing without knowing roughly what is decent/what is not, and with the course alteration it wasn’t like I could aim for a similar time to previous years as it was 0.6 miles longer.
My last outing on this course was 2 years ago and in fact my first outdoor ride on my TT bike, I came 5th behind winner Seb Ader, Connal Yates, Pete Tadros and Richard Prebble, these are all people I’ve since beaten in other events so I was confident that I had got stronger and more aero in those last two years to challenge for this event. As I was hurtling down towards Forrest Green a horse was visible in the distance, I backed off as I know how erratic they can be, the horse didn’t look too happy but I got by without issue, I think this particular rider was making a point of riding on the course despite there being countless other lanes around that would have been almost traffic free. Odd.
With about 5 miles to go I was on the last of the single track road before hitting the DC, I was approaching a KW rider who had predicted I’d catch him at 13 miles, it was indeed 13.4 miles when I saw him, sadly the same situation occurred and a truck was struggling to get round him so I was sat behind this truck for a short time. As soon as I got by it was just a case of buying myself on the DC to claw back what I had lost. I crossed the line in 42.36 which was just under 26.5 mph, not terrible I thought, but might be touch and go. Anyway, all was revealed when I caught up with Chris shortly after, he said he’d done about 20 seconds faster than me. Not totally surprising to be honest, and when we got into the hall he had been fastest, then myself, then John Dewey a few seconds back on me, so it was a pretty tight affair at the sharp end, especially considering the distance, smaller gaps than at the KW 14 event. Good news for Paceline too as we took the top few spots in the road category, and took the team prize!
I said I’d like to get in the top 3 for this event and managed that, so while I was always wondering if I had pushed harder down the hill, I am not dissatisfied with the result, one more sporting TT in the East Surrey Hardriders and then a few road races to get stuck into.
I’ve bought an S works Tarmac frame and a new 11 speed di2 groupset for that as I fancied a change and would be interesting to see if bikes have moved on since Hushovd won the green jersey on the same S3 I’m riding!