Bicycle races are coming your way.
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
A combination of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and the need to rest ahead of the 3 day event, it has been almost a run free rest week.
Almost because there was the small matter of the Helen Windsor 10k on Wednesday, a tougher than it looks rural route from Greetland around Norland Moor and one of my favourite local 10k’s. It also was in the club Grand Prix, so there was pressure to go a little quicker as points were on offer.
I had originally hoped to aim around 41 minutes but tendon had been playing up and after a couple of days limping around I reluctantly set my sights lower at between 42 and 43 minutes, assuming no problems on the night.
Warm up was interrupted by too much chatting but managed about 10 minutes, before we were led down the road to the start. The route makes a small triangle and then a bigger rectangle with the key being able to reach the long hill after halfway in good shape.
Race plan was simple, set a decent pace but keep it comfortable until halfway and then see where that left me for the hill. The last 2km run in includes a nice bit of downhill but a couple of little rises so needed to make sure I had enough for that. The uneven nature of the course meant pacing by time is difficult, so decided to go on feel and back that up with a bit of HR monitoring.
With the first 200m downhill I was in danger of getting swallowed up in the 200 plus crowd as they surged onwards but a glance at watch showed sub 4 pace so concentrated on staying in clear air and setting myself for the corner where it quickly turned uphill for about 1 km. I set about gaining a few places and tucked in behind a trio of yellow girls.
With a Toddy ahead I tried to ignore the temptation to close down but as the slope eased I moved onwards and closer to Darren. Branny then came flying past on the short downhill and I followed him up the next climb with the 3 of us separated by a few metres. As Branny moved onwards I resisted the temptation to follow as it was too early in the race to be pushing.
I tracked Darren on the downhill back past the start going through 3km feeling very comfortable. The long drawn out climb was a little tougher this time with less runners to tag along with but concentrated on keeping pace top end of comfortable. The gap see sawed a bit up to the water station at 6km when Darren upped effort a bit and gap started to grow.
I’d been watching HR and it had generally been mid 160’s with odd higher bit, but now I was bumping into 170’s so knew I couldn’t risk pushing it anymore and settled on picking off the odd place on the long climb. The steepest part of the climb comes at the end and reluctantly the gap to Darren was now well over 50m.
Finally the climb was over and we headed steeper down, I let myself go a little more than I’d planned and gap was closing again, saw off another couple of places and we were onto the main road back to the finish, only 2 km to go.
Despite HR dropping slightly was still closing and gap got down to a couple of metres again. I felt like I had the energy to go past but held back for the first of the two short slopes. Struggled a bit with breathing, but legs felt good, but forced to back off a little and struggled to close back up before next little hill and breathing maxed out again and forced to ease off.
Gap increased and at 9.5km had a quick glance at time for the first time, worked out I’d be just over 42 mins so used final downhill to push hard, stalled slightly on final corner and worked hard again to go over line in 41:54.
Thursday night and a quick trip into Leeds to see the Tour de France Riders Parade as they came through the town centre on the way to the opening ceremony. 90 minutes standing was tougher than running but worth it.
Friday was then a chance to ride some of the Le Tour stage 2 route on first proper bike ride for ages, started dry but grew increasingly wet. Amazing to see so many bikes out, even more amazing to see so many considerate patient drivers on the Cragg Vale climb.
An indecisive (felt probably should have gone to watch Le Tour) whizz over to St Helen’s parkrun for another inaugaral event, with one of the most complex looking routes but actually not too complicated. A lovely sunny morning, a bit of breakfast in the cafe, and back to watch the amazing scenes of the Grand Depart.
Sunday was another early start, this time to beat the road closures and get parked up at work. Had a bit of a wander before setting off up Cragg Vale in an incredible party atmosphere, with increasing excitement. Settled into Todmorden Harrier’s ‘corner’ (actually more an imperceptable kink) and awaited the riders.
Used the caravan (nowhere near as generous as El Giro or La Vuelta – only saw about 5 things thrown out in total!) to practise photo’s and get camera settings just right, before accidentally knocking shutter speed down from 1/800 to 1/125 just before the riders arrived, so blew all photo’s, compounded by the sun dipping behind a cloud at the crucial moment.
A quite amazing experience that will live on forever.