Never turn until you see a marshal.
Sitting in the car outside HQ waiting for the freak hail storm to pass so that we could go into to collect our numbers, I wondered if the long drive up to Derby to tackle the A50/6 would be worth it.
It’s an extension of the super fast A25/11 with a ‘dog leg’ up a stretch of single carriageway. It was also the reverse of the J course I had set my PB of 2.04.13 on in 2013 and I was hoping for a well overdue update to something much more respectable. Given my notorious ability to get lost on a straight road, I had taken no chances. Friday night was spent scrutinising the course on Google maps and drawing a tiny map on a strip of tape to attach to my handlebars. I marked on every roundabout and expected mileage. The only thing that stood between me and a PB were my legs (no pun intended), or so I thought.
Preparation clearly hadn’t stretched to packing any waterproof kit so I was forced to ride to the start in my oversized pink raincape (with Dalmations all over it) that is normally reserved for windy wet days when I can’t manage an umbrella and the pram. Nothing like being inconspicuous…
First two and a bit miles to the A50 flew by and it wasn’t long until I could see my minute woman up ahead. Mental note to calm down, 50 miles is a long way. First 10 miles done in just 21.45. I hit the ‘Concrete mountain’ and the head wind but even then my average speed has barely dropped below 26mph. Speed was way above what I had anticipated but my power told me it was sustainable. By the time I got to the top turn I had passed almost everyone up to my 9 minute woman with the exception of Angela Hibbs (Nat 50 champion) and Alice Lethbridge (4th at Nat 50).
Back down the Concrete Mountain at some 30 mph and onto the single carriageway. I glance down at my map, straight over the first mini roundabout then turn at the second. I approach the second, the mileage looks wrong, but I’m sure that there were only 2 on the map so I turn. The marshal must have popped off for a comfort break. Almost immediately I regret that move. I squint at the map again but by the time I was sure that I’d turned early I was nearly back onto the DC. (In retrospect, I could have turned, re ridden that section and still got a PB).
Despite that fatal error, I was keen to prove to myself what I was capable of so I carry on back at race pace. If nothing else, this would be good training for the National 100 and provide valuable data. And there was a miniscule chance that maybe I was wrong about being wrong.
Back onto the A516 for what should have been the last mile and a half. I pass the finish time keepers at 49.1miles. Damn, Clarry you really are a complete idiot. I continue until my Garmin says 50 miles and I stop the clock at 1.54.15. That should have been just enough to sneak into the Top 20 on the All time Fastest Riders list but sadly, it was officially a DNF for me. GUTTED.
PS. It turns out the map on Strava is out of date. Don’t trust Strava.