by Sam McDonald...

When the course record of 23:32 was set in 2017, it seemed like a completely unreal time and not something I would ever get near. My PB at the time was 26:26 and I was just trying to improve it where I could - even just going under 25 minutes seemed pretty impossible. However, I gradually became faster and faster over the years (mostly through aero gains rather than being fitter), and since last year the course record was something I began to think about.

At the start of the season I knew there was a possibility I could get it, but it would require the weather to be right, to have good legs and to really nail my position the whole way around. I had done a few rides under 24 minutes during the season, but there was never the perfect day. However, when I saw the weather forecast with the wind coming from the east on Thursday I knew it could be my chance because there would be a tailwind on the exposed parts of the course and a headwind on the sheltered bits. 

Once I was going I knew it was going to be a good ride. I flew along the first stretch with the wind on my back, and even up the drag to the first turn I was doing 27-28mph. Going past the golf course seemed better than normal, and when I got on the straight to Onion Corner the headwind didn't feel too strong. The two straights to Tetworth were fast again with the wind on my back, and once I got up the hill I knew that the hardest part was over and the time was looking good, I just had to keep on pushing to hang on to it. Entering the last corner I knew it was going to be close, so I just gave it everything for those last 90 seconds. As I crossed the line I knew I had done it. 

I am really proud to now hold the record, but I know someone else will take it one day. They may be looking at 23:26 being an unreal time right now, but with training and consistency they can go even faster.