A field of 28 riders, a calm early Spring evening and a barely rippling Welsh flag. Scene set for the first 9 of the season proper – after the devilish Rhuallt hill climb last Tuesday.

The event begins with the usual friendly chat between a real mix of riders: first timers on standard road bikes to an ex-National HC champion in a skinsuit riding a disc wheeled beauty. Some have a properly structured warm up session and it clearly makes a real difference – something I could learn from as I gently rolled up and down the 5m course searching for inspiration.

I was off in 24th tonight and it took a good 3 miles before the first minute man came into sight. Funny how it takes so long to reel them in after you first catch a glimpse and yet the difference in speed you feel as you pass can be exhilarating. I guess it’s all in the head, as is dealing with the pain, searching for every last little bit of energy as you keep telling yourself ‘try harder’ and push for that extra watt…
Teeth gritted every now and again, flying past what looked like the Tues night Melyd ride coming in the other direction in Aberwheeler, I felt happy that the short descent hadn’t been ruined by side winds and the nervous braking I usually engage in.?

Pushing on by the gliding club I passed another rider and had the nagging feeling I was probably now within the reach of Dan Evans and readied myself to have him whistle past – but, gladly, it wasn’t to be. And as I accidentally spat on my right hand coming down the bypass (nice) I knew the pain was soon about to end. One last left turn and the last drop of power from burning legs, I crossed the line in what turned out to be 4th place. PB from last season still 30 seconds away I was reassured I’d made a solid start to the season with 21:46. Another (!) course record from Dan on 19:33 and a safe end to the event.
Looks like we’re set for a great season of racing.