The first club 25 of the year and another nice evening for a time trial.
Also the first 25 for me this year, and the longest outing on the TT bike to date. I tweaked the saddle position slightly after the 18 to tilt the nose down just a tiny bit, so hopefully it would be a little more comfortable. I also managed to get my rear light into a much better position just under the saddle.
I signed on as number 21 out of 27 riders, so towards the back of the field, and by chance a minute behind Matty Wells. No chance of catching him, so I'd be looking further up the order for riders to chase down.
From the start there was a slight headwind on the stretch towards Belsay, but then the road turns slightly towards the West and there was a good tailwind all the way to the turn. It was the first time this year I have raced the A696 heading out from Ponteland, so I wasn't aware of where the worst of the potholes would be. There was an awful one within the first mile that if anyone had ridden into they wouldn't have come back out again. And just before the Highlander one of the riders had already started walking back towards the start.
This course is predominantly uphill on the longer outward leg, with a series of uphill stretches followed by shorter downhills requiring over and under threshold efforts to try and keep speed over the hills. In all there is about 1,000 feet of climbing on the course so it certainly isn't flat. I was surprised to average 24 mph to the turn, putting me in a good place for the return leg.
The turn is unusual these days in that it isn't at a roundabout but with what is effectively a dead turn at the small junction at Kirkwhelpington, Not quite a turn in the road which I doubt exists anywhere in the country any more, but pretty much as good as.
A headwind return was no surprise after the speed on the way out, and it was on the top of the uphill drags that it was most noticeable. I caught Baz and Paddy near Capheaton, then consistently had riders in sight to chase, which is always a motivator. My average speed was only creeping up on the return until Belsay when the road swings a little and the wind was less of a hindrance. Jack was taking photos just after the Highlander, but I hadn't noticed him there on the way out.
My time at the finish was 1:00:24, my third fastest ever for the Pont course, and fifth overall on the night. This year my times are very close to those of Russ Hughes. There were split times available tonight from Belsay and Kirkwhelpington and on each of the splits we were within 3 seconds of each other, with me running out fastest overall by just 7 seconds. It seems unusual to be so closely matched throughout the whole length of a time trial!
My power output is still down on three years ago, but this time just 16 watts lower than I recorded for a 25 that year. My time was faster than I had expected and hopefully bodes well for a fast 25 at the weekend.