The only time trial on the fastest course in the North East in 2018.
The M101 course on the spine road from the Three Horseshoes to Sandy Bay and back is one of my favourite courses. I first rode it in the mid 1990s when it was used as the Barnesbury club time trial course, so I have fond memories of it. It also suits me quite well with just two roundabouts and long drags up and down on the dual carriageway.
Once again this year I had an early start time being number 12 out of 120 riders. It was a lovely day - sunny and with very little wind, if a little chilly at that time of the morning - and ideal for setting a fast time.
I made sure of a good warm up and arrived at the start line with about three minutes to go. The riders to start after me seemed a little impatient to get onto the start line and I had to push through on the inside just to get to the line. I'm not sure how they thought I was going to get lined up.
The course starts at the top of a small rise, giving a slightly downhill start down to the Three Horseshoes roundabout after just a few hundred yards. I was lucky at the roundabout to just scrape through ahead of a car on my right, then it was full speed down the slip road onto the spine road. It was a really fast start with what seemed to be a tailwind and my speed was straight up to 35 mph and then consistently 33 mph (past Jack where the photo below was taken) all the way to Kitty Brewster underpass.
From there the road drags up a little and I was pleased to keep my speed high, just dipping below 25 mph over the top before getting back well over 30 mph on the next dip down. The next drag up is normally quite hard so again I was pleased to keep my speed over 22 mph before the dip down over the River Wansbeck. The final pull up to the turn was astonishingly fast, 28 mph almost all the way up to the roundabout, giving a time of just 10:20 at the half way point - an average speed of 28.9 mph!
I got lucky at the turn, being able to ride up between the couple of vehicles ahead of me and straight onto the roundabout without losing speed. As expected, the start of the return leg picked up a slight headwind and on the descent back to the River Wansbeck I held a steady 29 mph. There is a short rise up the other side before a further downhill gradient onto the long straight towards Bedlington Station. I was catching number 9 quite quickly for three minutes and just after passing her I was caught for a minute by number 13.
At this point I witnessed something I haven't seen before in all my years of time trialling. Instead of pulling back in to the left hand side after passing me, he continued to ride along just to the left of the centre line of the dual carriageway for the next mile or so until he was out of sight of me. I have heard of this being done by riders who are trying to benefit from the slipstream of vehicles coming past; in fact a national record was disallowed last year and the rider disqualified for doing just that. It is a shame to see riders doing something so unsafe and also putting courses at risk should a driver complain.
I was starting to flag just a little on the drag up past Bedlington Station but was still riding at 27 mph under the Kitty Brewster underpass and into the last mile. The last mile of the course is cruel, dragging up into a headwind for what seems like ever. I could see my average speed was well over 27 mph and it was a case of just hanging on to my speed as best I could. I couldn't remember what speed was needed for a sub-22 minute ride but thought I was there. I couldn't have given it any more over the last half mile as my speed dropped to 23 mph, and my heart rate shows I peaked as I crossed the line at 177 bpm. In fact the whole of the last mile was ridden well over threshold!
My time of 22:05 sadly wasn't a 21, but is my fastest ride since 1997, and fourth fastest 10 mile time trial ever. I'm pleased with that but disappointed to be so close to a 21.
The time is also just two seconds faster than I recorded on the same course in 2015 so it enables some comparisons between my equipment then and now. My average power output for that event was 298 watts compared to 270 watts now, so my equipment (aerodynamics and rolling resistance) would appear to be saving me 28 watts over my equipment back then. That's a great saving, I just now need to find those 28 watts again and see how fast I can go then!National Ranking 22nd May 2018