On the 20th of September the 12th and final event of the South East Women’s Time Trial Series was held on the rolling H10/3a course near Newbury (see link for profile). This is an out-and-back single carriage way 10 mile course with a relatively straight forward, if slightly tight, turn at the roundabout at the 5.5 mile point. The course is more challenging than it appears on paper as the gradients are hard to judge and the hill near the 1 mile mark certainly makes your legs hurt a bit..
In preparation for this event I had already raced the course during a Newbury RC’s mid-week evening event a few weeks earlier. The club was very welcoming and conditions were warm and relatively fast that night. I clocked a 23:30 (despite a flapping race number), which is a good time for this course I was assured, but I was quietly confident that on a good day, with good preparation and the knowledge gained from having raced the course once already I would be able to shave off a few more seconds. So my aim for the SEWTTS event on the 20th of September was to try and go sub 23 minutes …
I had left my home early because the roads were busy with the nearby Royal County of Berkshire Show expecting over 60,000 visitors. When I arrived at the HQ there were very few competitors yet, so I decided to drive the course once more to print a good picture of the course in my mind. Rebecca Slack (organiser of SEWTTS) hadn’t exaggerated about the amount of road kill that had appeared on the course lately, but otherwise the road surface was mostly smooth and in a good state. The weather was dry, not too sunny, around 20 degrees and the course was quite well sheltered from the gentle NNE wind.
As for the last few events I decided to do my warm up on the turbo and set my Garmin to show me power and time readings only (no speed). This approach had worked very well when I accidentally left my Garmin GPS switched off during the Stone Wheelers 25 mile the previous week (when I achieved a surprisingly fast time of 53:34 ), so I opted for power only info again for this ride. From the club 10 I had done on this course I knew roughly what power to aim for if I wanted to go below 23 minutes and …. it worked!
I managed to cover the 10 mile course in 22:35, the 2nd fastest time ever for a woman on this course, only surpassed by Julia Shaw (for those who don’t know her she is an absolute TT champ and holds the fastest ever UK records for most distances).
Julia clocked a 21:49 to win the National 10 mile TT Championships when they were held on this course in 2009. IF I had already been serious about cycling at that time and ridden the event, my time of 22:35 would have earned me a silver medal ahead of some well-known cycling talents such as Sarah Storey and Emma Trott… Haha theoretically that is very nice and good to know that on a good day I am capable of some good rides… but yeah unfortunately I still mess things up on other days too… So the lesson is to take nothing for granted and just enjoy it when things go right.
I won the event, with Bronwen Ewing (Trainsharp) placing second in 23:21 and Claire Kitching (Newbury RC) as third placed woman with a time of 24:45. If only I had been one second faster and I would have taken third place in the men’s ranking too.
In one of my earlier blog posts I have written about the prizes handed out to each winner of the respective SEWTTS categories at each event. After a season of SEWTTS event I now have a nice pile of cycling books to take with me when we go on honeymoon at the end of the year (when I will finally have some time to read them) but my supply of cool accessories from SEWTTS sponsor Look Mum No Hands! is also steadily growing 😉 For those who know me well it will be no surprise that the box of chocolates I won was nearly empty by the time I got home!
As this was the final event of the first SEWTTS season, Rebecca also held the overall series awards prize giving at the HQ. There were some amazing Rapha jerseys, gilets and accessories as well as trophies for the winners of each of the categories. Have a look on the SEWTTS website for a good write-up and photos of the prizes. I absolutely loved my Rapha jersey and it already has seen quite some use during my cycling touring adventures in the Netherlands the week after this event.
Rebecca has done a brilliant job in organising SEWTTS. It really is the best thing that happened in women’s time trialling this year and I very much look forward to catching up with familiar riders and getting to know new ones at next year’s SEWTTS events. For a tentative line up of 2015 SEWTTS events, have a look here. Don’t worry if you don’t have a time trial bike yet, there will be a road bike category too for next year.