Classic conditions for the club 25 course with a strong westerly wind, hoping to get under the hour.
So often for the club 25 there is a westerly wind, meaning a headwind for the longer outward leg which is also predominantly uphill. It makes for hard work to the turn, only mitigated by shelter from hedges and the more northerly first few miles. The only way to play these conditions is to hit the outward leg as hard as you can, which is exactly what I did.
With confidence from the previous week's 10 and Barnesbury 25, I pushed it hard from the start. The first mile is tough going, and I felt like I was making slow progress, but I was holding good speed on the faster outward sections. After Belsay I caught a young lad of only 12 and I felt for him into the headwind as he battled up one of the drags.
Approaching the turn you get to see the riders in front of you coming back, and I tried to gauge my position against Russ. I couldn't tell if I was up or down on him, but there was no doubt when I got round the turn to see Adam Wild closing in on me for 7 minutes!
I recall my PB for the club course, 57:27 back in 1997, was set with very similar conditions and I reached the turn that day in 32:30. This time round the clock was at 34 minutes, so getting under the hour was very much on. If anything it helped me slightly having Adam come past just before the drop down to the long straight to Kirkharle. My speed was also enhanced by two lorries in quick succession over the crest of a rise heading back towards Belsay, with a 1 mile segment covered at an average speed of 36 mph, and a 10 mile stretch covered in 20:28.
I don't think I could have put any more into the return leg and I was delighted with my time of 58:53 for 4th place and fastest Vagabond, a useful few seconds ahead of Russ towards the short distance BAR, and nearly a minute ahead of Dave. Average power output of 284 watts was 9 watts up on the Barnesbury 25, and a new best for me over 25 miles.
Adam recorded the first ever sub 50 on the course - how anyone can average 30mph on that course is beyond me!