>To the ends of the earth

>Well, to Cricklade actually. Up at 4am, driving through the dawn to the oldest town on the Thames. A place of mystical charms close by the Holy Grail: five miles of fairly level, well-surfaced dual carriageway.

The U47B is a new course that used the roads made famous by the romantically named U47. It has a reputation for fast times and tempted me to travel further than I normally would for a ’10’. The event was run by VTTA West.

I didn’t warm up aggressively (I rarely do). This might have been a mistake. My engine seemed slow to start and I only really got going by the third mile. My average HR for mile one was 86bpm and for mile two,123bpm. Some of this might be the Garmin just making up numbers, but I was sluggish.

The (slightly downhill) return was much faster. I might have been jolted into consciousness by dropping my front wheel into a slot in the concrete road surface coming off the turn. It was deep enough to damage the braking surfaces but luckily the tyre held out.

The finish involves a roundabout with an adverse camber – great fun.

I finished with a 24:12. Seven seconds faster than yesterday, but on a much better course and with easier conditions. The veteran multi champion and record holder John Woodburn, who I’d got close to the day before, beat me by over a minute. There’s a man who knows when to give maximum effort for maximum effect.

Race stats: Time: 24:12 (24.79mph). First 5 miles: 12:54, second 5 miles: 11:18. Top speed: 31.0mph. Slowest mile (5): 2:55 (20.57mph), fastest mile (6): 2:05 (28.80mph). Average HR: 160bpm, maximum HR: 166bpm. 38th of 63 finishers. Ave. cadence: 76rpm. Winner: Dean Robson (Somerset RC) 20:08

I had targetted to long 23s for the weekend, so two short 24s is a slight disappointment. I get the feeling that I’m slightly past my first peak of the year!