Last Saturday 8th August, saw the Nova Raiders put on the Shropshire 10 mile TT championship as part of the Shropshire Cycling Clubs Association (SCCA) much abridged summer series. Whilst a little earlier in the year it looked like we faced a season with no racing at all, the local clubs in conjunction with the SCCA have pulled out the stops and got some Covid secure racing happening. Kudos, once again, to the tireless organisers, marshals, time keepers and helpers – as is so often with these things, it’s the same faces putting the work in to allow others (me included) to race. Thanks.
The race was on the flat out and back D10/23r Waters Upton course, once famed as the only time trial course in the country that included a section of Paris-Roubaix style pavè. However, in an act of unbridled genius, the Highway's Authority recently resurfaced it with the blackest, smoothest tarmac you could wish for only to cover it with loose stone chippings.
It was hot and humid by the time the first rider set off a 2pm. In fact, the temperature gauge in my 1600 Ford Wicked registered 30 degrees at one point, and there was a relatively gentle breeze giving the riders a bit of help on the return leg.
With the field limited to 60 riders and preference given to local lads, it was good to see some big names in the time trial game show up, notably Dan Bigham of Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling who smashed the course record by 1min and 11 seconds, winning the event by recording an 18:27. A truly outstanding time. I had the privilege of witnessing this at first had as I was off 3 minutes in front of him. He caught me at the halfway point and I had a vague idea I might keep him in sight for a few seconds coming off the roundabout to help psychologically pull me along. By the time I got back in to aero position and looked up, he’d gone! For my part, I recorded a middle marking 23:30 which, after a summer of ‘hello trees, hello flowers’ rides was as fast as I could go. Getting in the to the 22s on that course means well-structured training and less visits to the biscuit barrel. Just to prove it was no fluke, young Mr Bigham recorded 17:52 the day after for another 10 at Levens, a faster course sure, but, you know, damn...
It's great when the pros turn up to local events, last year Steve Cummings did a local 25 and blew the course record there by 4 mins too. I think everybody gets a buzz out of it, even when they glide past you like you’re standing still. Whilst these guys are blessed with the right genetics, that can only be levered to it’s full benefit with thoughtful training and attention to aerodynamic detail. Great to witness.
Sadly, no tea and cake at the lovely Ellerdine Village Hall (refurbished toilets though!) due to Covid restrictions but it was a top afternoon out all the same. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, time trialling is the most accessible form of cycle sport in my view and whilst there will always be people who are faster and slower than you on the day, fundamentally, you are racing against yourself. Whilst the winner on Saturday recorded 18 mins, you can add nearly 20 minutes to that for the time of the last rider. Nobody is inconvenienced, you’re not getting in anybody’s way and, fast or slow, we all get changed under a towel in a field. Maybe give it a go?
Big thanks have to go to the Nova Raiders and the SCCA for flawless, safe organisation again – it’s wonderful to have some racing on. Full results for the Shropshire 10 are here.
Rich Smith has hit the biscuit barrel too hard over lockdown and now regrets his actions. He has coached the Great Britain Transplant Cycling team for 10 years, is a British Cycling qualified Level 3 coach and a mature psychology student. He spent 30 years responding badly to people in authority in senior roles for Barclays, HSBC, British Waterways and National Grid Property.
The ramblings of a cycling coach...