A rare float night in the North East and a PB for the club 10 course.
Float nights are very rare in the North East - there is almost always a wind blowing and it is usually a westerly. The perceived wisdom is that an easterly wind produces the fastest times on the club 10 course, in particular due to the difference it makes to the speed up the lane from Ogle towards Belsay. The forecast was for a light south easterly, but in practice there was little wind at all and it was warm and humid. Often a lack of wind can mean it feels like a headwind all the way round, but when conditions are just right like this it feels easy all the way - a float night!
I arrived with plenty of time for sign-on and a long warm up - Covid rules requiring parking away from the main car park in Ponteland mean fewer distractions! My legs didn't feel that great during my warm up but sometimes you can't tell until you start racing.
The first leg to Kirkley Hall felt pretty quick, and it certainly felt fast from there up to Ogle, catching my minute-man along the way. The lane from ogle to Belsay was incredibly quick, glancing down at one point to see I was doing 25 mph. That section is where to really press on, and I did my best to work all the way to the turn, where I had lost a few seconds in the previous 10.
A clear run onto the main road and it became clear that not only had it been quick to the turn, but there didn't seem to be much of a headwind on the return leg. Fortune was on my side at the top of the first rise as I was passed by a lorry, car, then a car with horsebox at an ideal location to help build speed. It was hard work to the Highlander, but from there I picked up good speed to overtake Robin and kept it high on the straight past the Waggon.
My thoughts at this point were not to let slip what could be an excellent time - opportunities like this don't come around very often. A quick glance at my computer showed a time of 21:40 and an average speed of 26 mph. Surely it couldn't be as much as 1:20 from there to the finish? Buried myself up the last bank to the finish and couldn't quite believe my time had stopped at 22:55 on my GPS, with 10 seconds to be taken off for starting the timer early.
22:44 was my official time, a 38 second improvement on my PB from 1997, and making me the 5th fastest Vagabond on the club course after Adam, Tim, John, and Dave. I never thought I would record a 22 on the club course and it is great to be in an even more exclusive group of riders who are sub-23 minutes.
Strangely my power for the race was down at 271 watts, 13 watts lower than the previous week's 25. I had been hoping to achieve something nearer to 300 watts, but it brings to mind a quote I heard some years back that it is a time trial and not a power trial, so I shall happily take the time from this one!