Nelson wheelers 50 mile hilly TT (The Circuit of the Dales) Race Report

Report by Tony Lowe

This event has been running for almost 70 years and is a classic early season time trial.

The race starts at Ingleton, through Burton in Lonsdale and Tunstall then along the A683 from Kirby Lonsdale to Sedburgh then across Garsdale head to Hawes with the final leg via Newby Head to Ingleton (51 miles) – a bit of a lumpy route!

I have done this event 7 times in all sorts of conditions, two years ago I almost suffered hypothermia from the cold driving rain and a 50mph head wind from Hawes to Ingleton.

However this Sunday we were greeted with a nice sunny day with apparently light winds. I was off number 26 so it was an early get up. I had been working night shifts Thursday and Friday and had booked the Saturday off however I was feeling totally drained so not the best preparation for 2.5 hours of suffering.

 I’ve never been able to get a super-fast time on the event and my PB was 2.27 so was looking to get around that time.  

The first 10 miles felt fast and was well up on schedule, but after Kirby Lonsdale I found this next section quite tough as in previous events I have had the luxury of a southerly wind. On this section there are some leg sapping drags, heavy roads, and an unexpected cross/head wind along with three sets of road works with traffic lights to add a bit of variation. 

I finally got to Sedburgh and had my first gel and was then held at the second set of road works for about 30 seconds (marshals were noting time lost) whilst there my minute man caught me up and when we then set off and up the steep climb onto the moors. This section was hard as there was a nagging wind and I was tiring.  

Once over Garsdale Head there was a superfast drop before the final set of road works at the bottom of the steep Mossdale Head climb, I necked my second gel and then finally got to Hawes where there is a sharp right corner with a long steep climb out of the town. There were 15 miles left with a lot of elevation to climb and descend. I was really suffering with tiredness and just wanted to get to the top of Newby Head. We had a slight tail wind but it was still a long grind. Over the top it was a fast drop and the welcome sight of the Ribblehead Viaduct came into view but I almost had to stop due to a flock of sheep running across the road. The final five miles seemed never ending with a number of false flats before the finish at White Scar Caves. I was happy with a 2.23 (later corrected to 2.22.48) considering how mentally tired I was. I would love to have a go on a low pro bike and think I could record a 2.15-2.18 on a TT rig. The winner was Phillip Graves with a 2.03 with Alistair Brownlee 3rd with a 2.04. I was actually the 2nd fastest rider on a road bike and I was 3rd place overall in over 50 category.

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