Border City Wheelers. Lazonby Hilly 20mile NLTTA SpoCo. 26/03/2023.
Course and Conditions
Starting just outside the villiage of Lazonby, the course consists of two laps of a 10 mile circuit. From the start there is a short flat section leading to a brief steep climb followed by a fast twisting descent – proper SpoCo challenges. After a gentle rise, a left turn leads onto the the A6 for a short spell of more conventional time trialling on a straight road with only gentle rises and falls. That changes abruptly with a left turn at Plumpton and the final leg of the circuit. There are two distinct climbs separated by a moderate descent before the road falls quite steeply back towards Lazonby. A final left turn leads to a short sharp climb and onwards back to the start-finish and the second lap of the course.
Cold and wind were the two additional challenges set by the weather on this day – at around 4°C it was decidedly chilly and made worse by the stiff 10mph wind from the Northeast.
Overall – Men
|1||47:27||Richard Bideau||Pendle Forest CC||V50|
|3||48:37||Marc Anderson||GTR – Return To Life P/B Streamline||V40|
Overall – Women
|1||1:05:47||Rachel Maxwell||Border City Wheelers||V50|
Pendle Forest Result
By Richard Bideau.
The Lazonby circuit has some difficult sections: steep climbs, fast descents, handling limited turns, but these are separated by gentler stretches where the rider has time to take stock of performance and adjustment accordingly. In this respect, it is in stark contrast with the Circuit of Ingleborough which presents the rider with a continually varying sequence of challenges.
Cold windy conditions were back but at least it was dry and with fine views across to the North Pennines. A North-easterly wind is probably the worst direction for fast times on this course as it only adds to the already hard slog from Plumpton back towards Lazonby. Nevertheless, it does appear to make the race experience better (at least in my case), by emphasising the contrast between the sections, breaking up the challenge into distinct and manageable portions.
I was the last rider off on #35. Fellow Pendle Forest rider Darren Harvey started two minutes ahead of me on #33 leading to an interesting chase (Darren chose the picture)! Based on recent performances, I expected to catch him at the half way point. It would be a useful gauge of performance: any earlier than half way was a relative improvement for me, any later a slippage.
I was away. The first task was to safely pass two earlier riders just starting their second lap, not so easy on the potholed surface of the first half-mile. That done, it was straight into the first steep climb: out of the saddle for a hard effort before back into aerodynamic mode for the very fast technical descent. Previous rides had taught me that it was no problem taking the entire descent on the aerobars, but it was still rather hair-raising with the tailwind and the added excitement of some gravel at the fastest point.
Turning left, it was south on the A6. This felt great: a slight tailwind coupled with a straight road, gently rising and falling. This was real time trialling at last. For the first time this year, my power delivery felt smooth and the numbers good.
Another left at Plumpton and into the biggest climb. The headwind was very noticeable now. Out of the saddle again, I was soon at the top of the first rise and had my first glimpse of Pendle Forest green: I was catching Darren but there was still a big gap to close. The hardest section done, I had a brief rest back down to Lazonby before the left turn back up the steep climb to the start. A big effort up the climb got me past Darren and onwards to the second lap.
The second lap felt very similar to the first, my power felt good and once again the A6 section was fast and controlled.
Descending for the final time towards Lazonby, I readied myself for the last big effort up the steep hill to the finish. It felt hard and the last 30 seconds were particularly difficult, the chequerboard approaching seemingly so slowly, but once again it was over and relief came flooding in.
This might be the closest I’ve come to enjoying a time trial and not because I took it easy. I was very pleased with my power output: my best performance of the year and some way back to the levels I used to take for granted. Maybe I’m not finished yet!
Many thanks to Adrian Sowerby for the organisation, to timekeepers Keith Bickley and Richard Abram and to the marshals who braved the cold wind.