The People’s Grant Tour wrapped up today with a time trial for the last stage. Kazuko was meant to ride as well but had started making excuses when the rain started the night before and she probably made her mind up when the wind kicked in some time during the night. She didn’t stir when my alarm went off and still failed to emerge despite her 20 different alarms, which went off progressively over the next 15 minutes. By asking the correct question, I was able to elicit a monosyllable, which confirmed she was a) still alive and b) not riding outside today. So it was left to me to ride down to Champion Lakes on my own.
The plus side to the ride down was that the roads were pretty empty and the tailwind got me there in good time.
After registering, I managed to change to an earlier start time so I wouldn’t have to hang about getting cold while I waited for my start to come up. Less than half the registered riders showed up so it wasn’t too hard to find an earlier time.
Just look at that flag. And I’m told the wind got stronger as the day went on.
The wind was at least the right direction for the course. We used to do it in the other direction until someone decided it’s probably better to ride the back straight with the wind, rather than into it. It’s not always the case, but it’s usually an easterly when we ride in the mornings. Today was northeast and the straight was a pleasure. I got up to 55kmh at one point and averaged 50kmh along it each time. It’s not often I find my top gear of 53×12 to be inadequate but I was a bit jealous of the guys on TT bikes with their big chainrings today. I don’t have a time trial bike and didn’t even bother putting clip-on aero bars on today.
With the fun part out of the way, turning the corner and riding back up was hard work. It was impossible to find a steady pace with the wind gusting down as it was. I reckoned it was probably about 20knots and the gusts were quite a lot stronger than that. Had I been on a sailing dinghy, I would have capsized several times, but that’s because I’m a rubbish sailor.
John Ferguson was marshalling the near the first set of bends after the straight and did a great job of cheering me on each time I went past. A few times I was hit by big gusts and my speed dropped down to the low 20s. I was only passed by one person on the course but he breezed past me as if there was no wind at all. It nearly broke me. I was glad to see later that he finished second with an average speed of 41.9kmh.
I finished 16th overall out of 46 starters and I’m pretty sure I would have been one of the first finishers on a plain road bike. My average speed was just 36.6kmh which compares with my best on this course of 41.3kmh. I suspect my average wattage would have been quite similar for both those rides which shows what a difference the wind and aero bars can make. World junior TT champion Luke Durbridge is also a member of our TT club. He won the Dauphine prologue last week and finished seventh in the time trial on stage four. Just for the sake of comparison, his best speed at Champion Lakes is 47.12kmh.
And then I had to ride home into the headwind. My average speed home was just 21kmh and I was in the little ring all the way. Then I got home and had a nap.
And that is my People’s Grand Tour all finished. I managed to ride on 22 out of 23 days and covered 1,617km. This is less than half of this year’s Tour de France distance of 3,479km but then we don’t see any of those riders driving buses, arresting criminals or doing people’s accounts in their spare time when they are not cycling, do we? It’s been jolly good fun and there’s another one in a month or two, so if you didn’t join this one, why not join the next?