A return to Levens for the first time in 19 years.
In the 1990s the L1015 course at Levens was known as the fastest 10 mile course in the country. I visited it three times between 1996 and 2000, recording a best time of 22:12 in June 1997. Without many events in June that I fancied riding, a Saturday evening 10 felt worth the journey, especially when combined with a cycle quest tandem ride.
Having pedalled nearly 25 miles on the tandem during the afternoon, arriving back at the car an hour before my start time of 19:02, I didn't need much of a warm-up and arrived at the starting layby with 5 minutes to spare. The problem with the start is that you can't leave the layby once you get there so you have to guess the timing as best you can and make sure you aren't late.
The start of the course is downhill, and fortunately I had been warned of the rough road surface in the first half mile or so. Onto the flat and the headwind became apparent, nothing brutal but constantly there. The only incident of note on the outward leg was when a tractor pulled straight across the road in front of me on the single carriageway section, fortunately just far enough in front of me that it didn't require me to brake. I can only assume he misjudged my speed.
Approaching the turn with an average speed over 27 mph in spite of the headwind I had two riders in sight. One was a reserve rider who had started three minutes in front, but the other I was struggling to identify.
I got a clear run around the turn, managing to stay on the tri-bars all the way around the roundabout. Past the first rider I then had what proved to be my minute man in sight. Having pushed very hard to the turn I was struggling to hold the pace and the tailwind only lifted my speed slightly. Having a rider to chase was a bonus and I caught him with a couple of miles to the finish. A further bonus was myself being caught by the rider who started a minute behind me - a good kick up the backside to keep pushing to the finish line.
Back at the layby my garmin showed a time of 21:59 but allowing the the time taken for autostart the timekeeper predictably had recorded my time as 22:00. Close to the 21 I had hoped for, and thanks to timekeepers rounding up to the next second almost certainly a sub-22, but not a 21!
This ride was my fifth fastest 10 to date. Interestingly none of my 21's have been achieved outside of the North East district, a district not known for its fast courses!