>Pat and I travelled to Herefordshire on Sunday for a couple of days of seeing family and to take in the Hereford and District Wheelers Easter Monday ’25’.
The trip was a success in that it was great to see the family. I also had a fun 10 mile spin on the Sunday that reminded me why so many Herefordians are decent cyclists – they have a decent supply of hills of all lengths and gradients. My ride from How Caple to Ross was like a roller coaster ride. Herefordshire, with it’s varied geography and sparse traffic, would be a great place to have a training camp.
On Monday morning we drove to the beautiful village of Weobley (‘Britain’s best village 1999′) for the start of the Wheelers event. A 100 years ago this was my first ever ’25’. I did a 1:26:36 and was last by a long way. That course has changed from a ‘V’ shape with two dead turns to a near circuit to make it safer. Safer it might be, but it’s also harder with Tin Hill being the feature ascent (though the final stretch to Yazor might be harder).
It was nice to meet a few people before the start who remembered my dad, but all thoughts of the past flew away with the first five miles into a headwind.
There’s very little past tense in racing – nothing beyond ‘I remember the road used to go up round the next bend’ and ‘the last time I went this hard I was sick’. There’s not much future tense either – it’s difficult to imagine a time beyond the next two minutes. The here and now dominates – keep it moving, try harder and don’t blow up. If you let your mind wander, most of the time your legs will take the opportunity to ease up.
The up and down nature of the course and the blustery wind made this a road man’s course (or a power rider’s course). It’s not best-suited to riders like me. I became discouraged. I became hungry (I’d put my pre-race gel in the wrong jersey and was running on empty). The three riders behind me caught me in the first seven miles. But I kept going.
Tin Hill went okay. I’d remembered it as being steeper and longer and so hit the little chain ring and got over it reassuringly quickly. The climb from Hereford to Yazor was less good: the lack of energy was beginning to tell and I faded badly. The final descent to the finish was a relief, but I should have gone faster.
All in all the race was a trial, but I’m glad I did it. It uncovered some weaknesses that I need to deal with. It pushed my heart rate up (and I’m struggling when I get above 160bpm because I haven’t been working out that part of my cardio system). And it’s a great event on an interesting course. And 1:12:52 is only about a minute slower than I’d have put money on at the start.
And I met some old friends from the Hereford Whs and my old club, Ross-on-Wye and Dist CC, at the finish. I hope to meet up with them again before too long.
Race stats: Time: 1:12:52 (20.59mph). First 12.5 miles: 36:30, last 12.5 miles: 36:22. Top speed: 35.6mph. Slowest mile (8): 3:36 (16.67mph), fastest mile (10): 2:22 (25.35mph). Average HR: 154bpm, maximum HR: 168bpm. 51 of 70 finishers. Winner: Dean Robson (Somerset RC) 57:57.