First post-lockdown open time trial and the fastest 25 event in the North East - a chance for a good 25 time for the season-long competitions and the first opportunity to get a Spindata score to confirm any improvements since last season.
The Barnesbury 25 is always the best chance for a good 25 time, but I haven't always produced my best rides on the M2510 course. The strong westerly wind on the day isn't so bad on this course as there tends to be quite a lot of shelter, and so it turned out on what was otherwise a sunny morning.
Covid-19 restrictions meant a new HQ at Cramlington Football Club, in my opinion an improvement on the East Hartford community centre, with plenty of parking on the field. A temperature check preceded sign-on, remembering to bring your own pen, and collecting a paper number - not so easy to put into a number pocket in a skinsuit! It was a little chilly into the wind starting a warm up but that soon wasn't noticeable.
Tried to keep the effort steady off the start line to the Three Horseshoes roundabout, where I turned onto the spine road maybe 50 metres in front of a rider starting their second lap. The first mile on the dual carriageway was superfast, averaging over 33mph. At this point I was caught and passed by the rider on his second lap, but no sooner had he got past me than he slowed down. Dropping back the required 20 metres, I was reduced to soft-pedalling at up to 50 watts below my target power before deciding I had to make a big effort and retake him. My retake stuck and I didn't see him again, but it was a distraction.
The first 10 miles continued to be very fast, covering it in 22:05, an average speed of 27.4mph, and it was hard not to get carried away. I had my computer displaying Intensity Factor, with the idea to control pace by aiming for an IF of exactly 1, being the pace that is theoretically the maximum sustainable for 1 hour. For much of the way to the first turn it was showing 1.05 and I was concerned I had started too fast.
The road between North Seaton and Woodhorn roundabouts was strangely fast in both directions, and it was a relief to find the return leg wasn't into a headwind all the way. I had opted not to fit my bottle between my arms, and I was regretting that decision when I needed to take a drink a couple of times, having to come out of my aero position on each occasion.
The slip road up to the turn at the Three Horseshoes was mercifully easy, and then I was into my second lap and looking for Tom up ahead of me on his first lap. I have no idea how many riders I overtook in the race, but it was a lot, with riders on different laps. I finally got Tom in sight on the drag up to North Seaton roundabout and caught him on the approach to Woodhorn.
Onto the home leg and it was simply a case of trying to keep position and speed. The new position with higher hands was becoming tiring to hold, and I resorted to getting out of the saddle on one rise, but otherwise held it together fairly well to the finish for a time of 57:05, 10 seconds slower than my predicted time on Spindata.
Overall a good result, and an increased power output from last year's best 25 by a massive 23 watts, although I may have been a few seconds quicker with a slightly steadier start, and with a drink available whilst remaining in position. Currently awaiting Spindata's score to see how good the ride really was.