>Don Woodman Open ’25’ – 2010

>Back in the early noughties, this was the event that rekindled my interest in cycle racing. My old club, Ross-on-Wye and District CC, have run this event for many years as a memorial to my dad. I marshalled in 2004 and came back to ride it the next year. I missed 2006 but came back in 2007 for one of the worst rides of my career (1:19:33 and a long way last in a rain storm). Since then the event moved to a faster course, but this year it was back on the hard but fair R25/16 Llanvihangel Crucorney to Raglan course. I was sure I could beat my course PB of 1:10:20, but could I do a long 1:01 / short 1:02? No.

As we approached the HQ the weather looked threatening – the main peak of the Skirrid was covered in cloud and there was a head wind blowing up the Abergavenny to Hereford road. At least there would be a tailwind finish back up the hill from Hardwick.

It was chilly and there was drizzle in the air, so I donned a long sleeve baselayer. A seven mile warm up and I was ready to go. At the start someone asked me what time I thought I would do – I reckoned a 1:03 would be a fair result in these conditions.

The first mile was tough-ish, but then the course enjoys a lot of tree shelter. I hardly noticed the wind for the whole ride. The descent to Hardwick was pretty fast, as was the first section of the yellow brick road to Raglan. Only near the turn did the gradient swing up slightly and slow me down.

I rode the return pretty well, but the geography told (there’s a 270 foot net descent to the turn and 280 foot net climbing coming back). The turn onto the Hereford Road wasn’t the speed fest that I hope it would be. I’d remembered the gradient but I’d forgotten how dead the road surface is. The tailwind was pretty much cut out by the overhanging trees until the last mile. Still, at least I looked good for the crowds at the finish.

I finished with a 1:03:14 – good for the day I think. I was pleased with 21st place from 52 finishers as well.

Race stats: Time: 1:03:14 (23.72mph). First 12.5 miles: 30:25, last 12.5 miles: 32:37. Top speed: 29.3mph. Slowest mile (23): 2:52 (20.93mph), fastest mile (4): 2:10 (27.69mph). Average HR: 161bpm, maximum HR: 167bpm. Average cadence: 73rpm. 21 of 52 finishers. Winner: Alan Cook (Ross-on-Wye & Dist CC) 53:17.

It was good to meet up with old friends and club mates from the Ross club and the Gannet CC. Chapeau to Paul Stephens and his team for organising the event.