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FarSports carbon wheels

FarSports wheel building workshop.

FarSports wheel building workshop.

Unless wheels have come with a bike, I like to build my own wheels. It’s fun to do, and you get exactly the wheels you want. When it came to sourcing some new TT race wheels however, I decided that I needed some carbon deep section rims. As I had never built up carbon rims before I went for a pair of hand built wheels from China, FarSports in Xiamen to be precise. Significant time searching the internet suggested that this company was the most reputable.


Their webshop http://www.wheelsfar.com was easy to navigate and in went my order for a pair of their 60mm x 20.5mm Clincher with DT240S hubs. These would be used only for TTs so nice and thin for speed not comfort, although they were fine in the CC Breckland 12 hour last year. Not only did I set new personal bests at all distances, in one race I hit a pot hole at full speed so hard it trashed both tyres but the rims were not affected at all!

Lacing a new wheel.

Lacing a new wheel.

So pleased was I with these wheels I wanted to try my hand at building my own carbon rimmed wheels so I next ordered some rims. One of the issues I had was that the tyres on the race wheels were not for every day use so I couldn’t use my race wheels except for racing unless I was prepared to continually change tyres. However, changing wheels from my carbon race wheels to the training alloy wheels meant changing the brake blocks, not a long job really, but a good excuse to get a set of carbon rim training wheels!

What to buy? My 60mm rims do catch the wind sometimes so I decided on 50mm deep profiles as I had read that once you go deeper than 50mm you aren’t gaining much, maybe a handful of seconds over 25 miles. I also decided on a wider rim as the roads in Northamptonshire are shockingly bad and I would use these wheels for road racing as well as long distance audax rides. So the rims were set, now the hubs. I have always been a fan of high end Shimano hubs and a 32 hole Ultegra hub would give me a good strong wheel, well suited to anything I may wish to throw at it. That was last year.

Me and my wheel builder!

Me and my wheel builder!

This year I wanted to build up a track bike so ordered some track wheels, again from FarSports. I am currently writing this post from Xiamen, having spent the morning visiting the company on a rare day off during a rather hectic business trip that involves visiting 9 cities in 10 days, 7 internal flights and two high speed train journeys.

The taxi ride took about 40′ including a couple of phone calls to Sandy at FarSports so that she could explain to the driver exactly where he had to go to. I suspect not many tourists ask to go out into the industrial areas. Sandy came out to meet me on the street and take me up to their office/workshop on the second floor of the building. My first impression was that is was a much smaller operation than I expected. Chatting over tea with Sandy and Mae, the owner, we spent half the time talking about their wheels and cycling, and the other half about my school and the difference between education in China and the UK!

My track wheels boxed and ready to be sent to Shanghai.

My track wheels boxed and ready to be sent to Shanghai.

This half of the operation is where the wheels are assembled, the rims being manufactured at a another location about an hour away, overseen by Mae’s brother Ben. Each wheel is hand built in what is essentially a two man operation, one laces up the rim and the other tensions and trues the wheel. My track wheels were built and already boxed, just waiting for an extra 88mm rim to be included in the box that I had at the last minute ordered. Mae showed me some very new rims of their own design which I can’t show you, but they looked absolutely fantastic. Also on the racks were the lightest wheels I have ever handled! Built around Italian Extralite hubs they come in at around 770g a pair, yes…a pair! Only suitable for hill climbing though, I wouldn’t want to hit a pot hole at speed with those under me.

Although FarSports will happily sell to individuals, most of their production will go to resellers and distributors across the globe with their main market being in Europe. I imagine that there are many cyclists riding FarSports wheels without even knowing it. Mae was very coy about giving any names out, for example when I asked if they did any wind tunnel testing she said no they didn’t but she had results from a company in Europe they make wheels for that showed that their rims were as good as certain popular American wheels.

My verdict on this company? Well, to be honest, I was already a fan, with one pair of their wheels and another set of rims built up coping well with the rubbish roads around here. Their wheels are not cheap “Chinese carbon” but you are paying for quality rims handbuilt onto great hubs. Actually you can opt for cheaper hubs but if you are spending this sort of money you should go for at least the DTSwiss.

My 2016 TT season

I told Helen when I got back on my bike 5 years ago that I wouldn’t be racing and I’d stick to my first love of touring. So how did it happen that I rode more races this year than any other apart from when I was a teenager?

It started slowly with a local club 10 on a sporting circuit where I did a 29:11. This was April 2014, 23 years since my last race, 26:30 in a Kettering Amateur CC club 10 on the now defunct Brigstock-Islip course. Martin Bailey won that race in 1991, his dad Tom is still racing at 79 years of age!

I did the Peterborough CC open 10 the following month expecting to go better on a flatter course, the N1/10 which back in the day being on the traffic assisted A1 could a superfast course. Now though, although still flattish, it is a quiet road running alongside the A1(M), with many roundabouts and a slow road surface. I was very disappointed with my 28:50. A third attempt, back on the sporting Woodnewton circuit in August yielded an even slower 29:21. Three races, three disappointing times, but I had a lot of miles in my legs by the end of the year as I was working towards the 2015 Paris-Brest-Paris.

For the 2015 season I joined Kettering CC as my previous year’s club, the Army Cycling Union, was not offering a local community feel, i.e. local club events. Focusing on distance and not doing any speed training I managed to record 26:39 for a 10 on the A43 Broughton course. I was pleased with this as at the start of the year I told Helen that my target would be a 27’, i.e. 27:59, to which she scoffed and said I should be looking to beat 27:00! Three weeks earlier I had set a club record in the National 24 hour Championship with a fairly modest 368.33 miles.

I then failed to finish the Paris-Brest-Paris, DNF after ~550 miles with tendonitis in my achilles which basically brought a halt to any serious riding. After two months rest I started training for the 2016 season. My target was the club’s 12 hour record, currently standing at a shade over 240 miles. To achieve this I would need to maintain my long distance capability but also substantially increase my speed. A rough calculation gave a 20W (~10%) power increase required so a training plan was prepared, based on my twice weekly 60 mile commute for endurance, and 2-3 one hour turbo sessions for speed/power.

The plan was going OK until my first commute of the new year and an unexpected fall on ice resulting in a broken hand. This meant that endurance work went out the window and it was 5-6 turbo sessions per week. Up until now i had been doing a variety of available workouts using the TrainerRoad system, but now I started following a more specific plan using workouts created myself based on research papers I had read, primarily by Stephen Seiler and Veronique Billat, with an emphasis on improving VO2max and anaerobic threshold.

This work was clearly having a very positive effect as in April I recorded 1:04:36 in the Beds CC open 25 mile time trial, followed a month later with 2:09:23 in the Norlond Combine open 50 mile TT which was a PB beating my 1988 time by just over 20 minutes. I thought after the 25 result I could possibly aim to beat the hour next year, and after the 50 I was now thinking that a BBAR certificate would be nice.

The BBAR (Best British All Rounder) competition is a season long competition based on your best average speeds for 50 miles, 100 miles, and 12 hour time trials. There were trophies and medals for the top 12 but everyone who manages a 22mph average gets a certificate. This certificate became my secondary target after the club 12 hour record. Assuming I make 241 miles in the 12 hour (20mph), then if I can do 2:05:00 for a 50 (24mph) I’d only need to do 22mph for a 100!

A week after the Norlond 50 I rode the Peterborough CC 10, again on the N1/10 but this time I finished in 26:13, well over two minutes faster than two years ago, and on a much slower day. Things were going well, which was confirmed two weeks later when I recorded a 24:37 on the A43 Broughton course. Another two weeks on and the next race was a 25 on the superfast (if the wind is kind) E2 yielded a 59:19, a PB and beating the hour for the first time. My previous best was in 1989, a 1:01:53 in the Fenland Clarion open 25 on the N10/25 (Peterborough Parkways) course. That race had been won by Rod Ellingworth in 54:37, who is perhaps better know as Mark Cavendish’s coach in recent years.

Three days after beating the hour I thought I’d see what I could do in the 45RC club 10 on the Rushden bypass, unfortunately the forecast thunderstorms and heavy rain cancelled the event but as I approached Oundle the weather looked a little better so I decided on riding the KCF club 10 on the hilly Woodnewton circuit as I was all dressed up and ready to race! As I drove to the start though I changed my mind at least 4 times, the newly laid gravel road surface in Fotheringhay didn’t look kind to my 20mm slick Conti Supersonics, then it started raining again, rain after a dry spell usually means slippy corners. By the time I got to the start I decided I may as well give it a go but take it a bit easy on the corners. I was pleased with the resulting 26:42 a two and a half minute beating of my course best from two years ago, particularly as I had done a hour interval training session at 5:30am earlier in the day.

The following Saturday was my key 50 mile TT of the year, so to be at my best I reduced this week’s volume but kept the intensity. Tuesday’s efforts were followed by a rest day, a 30 mile level 3 ride home on Thursday, and just 20 minutes of hard intervals on the turbo on Friday. I was aiming for 24mph and as usual would pace it on heart rate. Unfortunately my HR monitor was playing up and didn’t budge from 99bpm all race so I had to ride on RPE instead. A reasonable if not brilliant day yielded 2:05:04 and another PB, 4 seconds short of my 24 mph target but I was very happy with that.

Next up was a weekend away riding the Hemel Hempstead open 10 and open 25. These were not key targets so it was a quite a hard training week of three hour long turbo interval sessions and one 60 mile commuting day. The Saturday afternoon 10 was on a fast course so I was targeting my 1989 PB of 23:56. It was going well for the first two miles, then I had a crisis of confidence, I knew I needed to come off the dual carriageway but I could see my minute man and his very distinctive Fou4th Scorpion TT special rear light. He had carried on so I followed him, then he slowed and stopped and it became clear that he had missed the turn. I had gone too far to walk back to the off slip road by now so decided to ride on and walk down the on slip road. Here I found a nice bike lane looking margin on the right hand side so rode down this at least until in sight of the marshal at the bottom. Walking the final 10-20 metres down to the underpass I then remounted and carried on finally finishing in 26:02. Analysis using Strava later would indicate that without the extra bit I would have done around about 23:45ish so I was a little disappointed to say the least.

Next day was a typical early Sunday morning start so the idea was I would race then get back to the hotel (one village away from the race HQ) just in time for breakfast so Helen could have a lie in. Like yesterday it didn’t quite go to plan as about half way back from the turn I hit a huge pothole and suffered a double blow out about 8 miles from home. Only one tube under the saddle meant it was a rescue call to Helen to pick me up. Stopping briefly at the HQ to return number and pick up my bag we got back to the hotel just after breakfast had ended so had to sweet talk the chef for a well deserved full English. As romantic weekends away go, I don’t think Helen was that impressed.

I hadn’t managed to get a ride in my first choice 100, being on the popular, fast (and over subscribed) E2, so had to drive up to Darlington for the National Championship 100 mile TT in July. For this race I would be racing my new TT bike, bought second hand from a guy in Holland, this was a 2006 T-Mobile team issue bike. Lovely to ride but with only one bottle cage I added a between the tri-bars aero bottle to supplement the down tube bottle and hid a 750ml bottle at 50 miles. In order to hit my 22mph target I’d need to finish inside 4:32:44, quite a tall order with the wind on quite an exposed rolling course. On schedule at 50 miles I stopped briefly to refill my aero bottle with energy drink and ploughed on. With about ten miles to go I ran out of drink and started to suffer but convinced myself that it was just another two miles of uphill and then the last eight was pretty much all downhill. That was enough motivation to get me through and even though the finish seemed to take forever to come once I’d left the main road, my final time was 4:32:15!

So just the 20mph 12 hour to crack and both season’s targets will be achieved. Then after browsing the CTT website I realise that my 50 time won’t count for the BBAR because it was an association event and not a BBAR qualifying event. My best counting 50 would be the 2:09:23 which would mean that a certificate was now pretty much out of reach. Oh well; my next three races were the Mersey Roads 24 hour National Championship and a 400 mile target, another PB attempt on the Tring F11/10, and finally the main target for the year, the CC Breckland 12 hour.

The 24 started well and on schedule for 400 miles but after 8 hours and 150 miles I called it a day, the knee issue that had manifested itself during the 100 was causing some pain so in order to protect it for the 12 hour I decided not to continue. A tough call, particularly considering the time and effort that goes into preparing and supporting an all dayer, but this race wasn’t my main target…

Five weeks to go, but with a two week holiday coming up, fitness was going to take a hit. Carefully balancing required endurance training against knee care, while still adding in some speed sessions, I went into the VC10 open 10 with not a lot of confidence so was very pleased to record 23:54 beating my 1989 PB by all of two seconds!

One week later and it was time for the CC Breckland 12. My eldest son Ryan was doing my support, which mainly consisted of running alongside me every 20 miles and handing up a new bottle of energy drink. Unfortunately although it was the fastest course used for all of this year’s 12 hour options, the strong wind made for a very tough day. Needing to average 20mph overall, for the first half I was ending each 10 mile tailwind section ahead of schedule but dropping behind at the end of each headwind section. As time went on, the averages fell and by the time I left the fast loops heading to the finishing circuit at 10 hours I was 3 miles behind schedule with only 197 miles covered (19.7mph). I was not going to be able to make this deficit up in the final 2 hours on slower roads so lost motivation for a while. It was only after getting to the finish circuit that I decided that 230 miles sounds significantly better that 220something that I started working hard again and finally finished with 231.752 miles.

So how did my season pan out? I failed in my main target (and my extra BBAR target) but beat my 27 year old 10 mile and 25 mile PBs, getting under the hour for the first time, as well as a huge beating of my 50 mile PB and setting reasonable marks for 100 miles and 12 hours. Overall, considering the broken hand and knee issues, I can be pleased with those results. Although I am clearly faster in TTs, I “bought” a lot of that speed and I reckon I am still between 1-2mph below where I was in 1989, but I am also 12+kg heavier so still lots of improvement room. I would still like to get back into road racing but I’m not near that level yet, I’d be dropped as soon as the road went uphill. I have set my main target for next year, so now just need to lose some weight and push up my power!

Training with Heart Rate

I bought my first HRM in around 1988’ish, a Polar Sport Tester. These were quite expensive at that time, so it was an advantage that I could buy it for the club I was coaching riders in. We used it mainly to collect data in races and then use that info to set target HRs for different interval training sessions. It only took a little bit of trial and error to find the anaerobic threshold and set levels from that. (The book Training, Lactate and Pulse Rate (Peter Janssen) was very useful.) Then, after a few sessions training with HR enabled riders to more accurately judge efforts by feel alone (RPE).


This graphic shows how HR varies at constant power output during the third eight minute interval of a set of four at slightly over FTP. After two minutes the HR remains very constant (+/- 1bpm) until near the end when it increases very slightly due to a slight increase in power.

The key to successful training with a HRM is to understand oxygen deficit. Immediately on starting an effort, the muscles work harder than the rate of oxygen is supplied for aerobic respiration so the muscles work anaerobically initially until the heart rate catches up and the blood supplies enough oxygen. This takes typically about 2 minutes, after which HR may continue to rise but very gradually for a bit longer until reaching a plateau. Therefore, for the first 2-3 minutes of an effort, you should go on RPE not HR. In a TT, assuming you didn’t start too fast, you settle into your desired effort after the first mile and from then on your HR shouldn’t vary too much. If it drops below your target range you increase your effort, and if it climbs too high you ease a little.

Cardiac drift can occur if you are dehydrated, particularly in hot and humid conditions. This is when HR increases even though the power output remains constant, this is thought to be caused by decreased plasma volume and increased blood supply to the extremities to aid cooling.

Power meter evangelists point to the two effects above as reasons why training with power it so much better than HR, but I would contend than as long as you understand the practical effects of oxygen deficit and cardiac drift a PM doesn’t gain you much if anything, over a HRM unless doing intervals shorter than 8-10 minutes.

However, having both HR and PM data to compare post ride is very useful. HR can tell you hard you worked, but together they can give you a measure of current fitness.

Training with power

I like numbers! A power meter was inevitable, it was just a matter of when. When the price was right, and when I had completed my research. As my other half will attest, I don’t make impulsive purchases, in fact it can take literally years before I commit to spending, and the more it costs the longer it takes.

I had been scouring the internet for about two years, discounting a number of options due to reports of inaccuracies or unreliability. For example, the Stages left hand crank based PM, popularised by the Sky team, was reasonably priced but it’s only one sided (therefore not that accurate) and suffers many reports of unreliability. The problem with one sided PMs is that the left/right balance can vary with total output. To get total power they simply double the power reading from one side. If the left leg is supplying 49% of the total power then the PM will under report the total power by 2%. This in itself is not too much of an issue as long as the imbalance remains constant, but if for example, at a higher degree of effort the left and right legs become more even, supplying 50% each then you no longer have consistently in your readings.

So I was after a PM that measured total power, was reliable, accurate, and reasonably priced. So when I saw a Powertap GS hub at a bargain price of £300 I was all over it like a rash. That was less than half the advertised price at a popular online retailer (or anywhere else come to that). Even better, when it arrived, it came with the dual cap, i.e. it sends out not only ANT+ but also Bluetooth signals, according to the manufacturers website this was listed as an ~£50 upgrade. RESULT!

Eventually my rim and spokes arrived from Germany (actually this took less than a week) and a wheel was built.

So, after about 20 rides and 30+ hours, what are my conclusions?
1. Generating all this extra data is fun, or rather the post ride analysis gains an extra dimension.
2. For most types of training, using heart rate is more effective.
3. For short intervals a PM is definitely more useful than a HRM but I do those on a turbo trainer anyway.
4. The PM is very motivating for sprint training, making you dig deeper to hit the numbers every effort, and telling you when your effort falls below the level that tells you it’s time to go home.

I’ve not tried it in a race yet but my plan was to rebuild it into a race wheel for next season. I suspect that for TTs it may give a little extra help for pacing. Mind you at £300 I am so tempted to buy another one and have both a training wheel and a race wheel with power.

Postscript: Power meters were not around until after I had stopped riding and coaching in the early ’90s so I had to do a fair bit of reading to catch up. There is so much information on the internet now though that by the time I bought the much quoted tome ”Racing and Training with Power” by Hunter and Allen there was almost nothing in it I didn’t already know, however this book is a good place to start if you know nothing about power meters.

Oundle Winter Hill Climb Challenge

This is a handicap based challenge using 12 uphill Strava segments within approximately 10 miles of Oundle. The competition segments will be revealed on 1 September.

The challenge starts on 1 September and ends on 28 February 2017.

Each competitor’s best time on each hill prior to 1 September is taken as their base time, the aim is to improve your time on each uphill segment during the next six months.

The overall winner will be the rider who has improved their times by the greatest aggregate amount. This can be done by either improving fitness or reducing fatness!

The segments have been chosen such that they are:

  • All uphill to minimise the effect of group riding and wind direction.
  • Close to Oundle so that all competitors are likely to already done them often enough to have achieved reasonable times commensurate with their current level of ability and fitness.
  • Avoid main roads and dangerous junctions.


  1. The best 8 improvements from the 12 possible hills are counted.
  2. Each month bonus points are awarded for the top three single segment improvements.
  3. Group riding is allowed but no pushes or any other outside assistance.
  4. Rides must be uploaded to Strava by the end of each month to be considered for the monthly bonus points.
  5. Riders must join the “Oundle Hill Climb Challenge” group before 1 September 2016. (I may be prepared to add one or two latecomers after this date but because of the extra work that would entail I am not promising…)


  1. The total number of seconds improvement over your base time for the best 8 segments are counted
  2. Each month three bonuses are awarded for the best improvements, valued at 20s, 10s and 5s. (Only one bonus per person per month.)
  3. The winner is the rider with the greatest overall improvement over 8 segments plus any bonuses.

Project 12h

Last year I set a club record for the 24h TT with 368.33 miles, this year I aim to improve that to 400+. A far more challenging target is the club 12h record which stands at 240 miles.

In order to beat 240 miles I need to improve on the 200 miles I managed in the first 12 hours of last years 24h. How can I do this?

1. Aero benefits of wheels and helmet should increase speed by up to 1 mph. 200 -> 212

2. A faster course could add another 0.5 mph. 212 -> 218

3. Not stop. I stopped for a total of 30′ last year in the first 12h, that will give me 9 miles. 218 – 227

So that leaves 13 miles to find from increased fitness, which is approximately 1mph extra. Putting some guesstimate data into www.cyclingpowerlab.com suggests that I need to find an extra 20W to go from 19mph to the 20mph I need for 240miles.

Is it reasonable to assume that if I can increase my FTP by 20W, my cruising power will also increase by the same?

Also, I don’t know what my FTP was last July. It was 200W at the end of November and is 207W today…

Since I did only endurance work last year and no sustained power training I would guess 200W is close to what it was in July, however to be conservative let’s say my current value is nearer the mark, and round that up to 210W while we’re at it. Therefore I need to increase FTP to 230W before the end of August, that sounds very achievable.

The Peterborough Green Wheel

The Green Wheel is a network of cycle routes around Peterborough. The design is based on a bicycle wheel, with a circular route (the rim), and a number of linear ‘spokes’ running into the city. There are a number of other alternative rides based on the Green Wheel, using additional connecting cycle routes, maps of which can be downloaded from http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/travelchoice/downloads.aspx#cycling.I have thought about riding the Green Wheel ever since it was created in 2000 as a Millennium project, but never quite got around to it. Eventually, in 2012, I managed it, riding the full perimeter route (apart from two small sections as described below).

I joined the GW route at it’s western most point, where Bullock Road turns left to Haddon. Riding anti-clockwise, the aim was to complete the whole original route minus the last little stretch along Bullock Road which I have cycled many times before.

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The Green Wheel is regional cycle route number 21.

Detailed Route Guide:

Abbreviations: T= T-junction, R= turn right, L= turn left, RH/LH= right/left hand (usually followed by “bend”)

Starting from Ferry Meadows car park at GR TL-142984, just off the A47 east of Castor village.

Continue down the hill through the linear car park, cross the river Nene at Ferry Bridge and continue down Ferry Walk around Overton Lake, crossing a small bridge, keep the lake on your right until you come to the Ferry Meadows visitor centre. There is a cafe and parking here, so you could start your ride from here if you wish, although parking may be more difficult at busy times.

Turn left at the visitor centre, right just before the level crossing (sp cycle route 63), follow the railway track for about 1km, then cross over it at the first bridge, turn right at the T-junction and follow the track until it emerges at the Lynchwood Business Park. From the roundabout, take the second exit which will bring you onto the A605 by the entrance to the East of England Showground. This crosses the A1 to become the Oundle Road, a fairly quiet road since the new A605 was built.

Take 1st left (sp Haddon, Great Gidding) into Bullock Rd, over the new A605 then 1st left (sp Haddon). This road contains the only real hill on the otherwise flat route. Continue through Haddon, under the A1, ignore the first left on a RH bend (sp Green Wheel, City Centre, The Ortons), as this is one of the “spokes”, take the next track immediately after the LH bend

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“take the next track immediately after the LH bend”

This off-road section continues for 2 miles, until a traffic control that enables you to cross the busy A15. On the other side of the A15, turn left and then right after about 50m down a narrow track (sp Green Wheel Fawcett).

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“On the other side of the A15, turn left and then right after about 50m down a narrow track (sp Green Wheel Fawcett).”


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“Continue on this track which takes you over the main railway line “


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Some of regional route 21 is also national route 12.

Continue on this track which takes you over the main railway line and into Crown Lakes Country Park. There are quite a few paths and tracks meeting here but the Green Wheel is well sign posted, essentially, you need to continue in the same direction as you crossed the bridge over the railway. As you emerge from the country park, turn right into Haddon Way and left at the T junction with http://espanacialis.org/ the main road in Fawcett. 1st right then 2nd left (Cross St) will bring you to the next off-road section, where Cross St meets St Mary’s St.

This track eventually runs alongside the B1095 just before it runs underneath the A605 via a subway. The cycle path continues around a housing estate (Stanground) which you need to keep on your left with the river on your right. The cycle path emerges into North St, where you need to turn sharp right and over the river by the lock gate. After 2 miles, turn left at a X-roads and over the River Nene at Stanground Washes via the Shanks Millennium Bridge.

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“After 2 miles, turn left at a X-roads and over the River Nene at Stanground Washes via the Shanks Millennium Bridge.”

Head back towards Peterborough now on the North Bank, turning right after about 500m, and continue following the track past Flag Fen archaeological site, emerging onto Pearces Road at Halfpenny Toll House. Immediate right then left onto Willow Hall Lane. After just under two miles, turn right onto a field track at the Green Wheel sign post.

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“After just under two miles, turn right onto a field track at the Green Wheel sign post.”

After 1.3 miles you emerge onto Eyebury Road, turn right and go through Eye, crossing the A47 by the cycle route bridge on the right side of the roundabout. Over the second roundabout and then left after 200m into Green Road. Here, due to the new A16, the route is not well signposted. I went all the way to the end of Green Road and turned right at the T junction, meeting the A16 shortly afterwards. If you cross the road carefully, you can then ride a service road north for 0.8 mile until you rejoin the Green Wheel route and turn left down Middle Road. [There is a cycle track coming in from the right here so I suspect that the new GW route takes a right turn half way down Green Road onto Turves Road although this is not sign-posted and is barred to traffic.]

Right at the next X-roads into Newborough and straight across the B1443 Thorney Road into Willow Drove. At the end of Willow Drove, turn left and follow the gravelly track down to Peakirk. Turning right at the junction with the B1443 then left at the T junction in Peakirk itself leads you to Glinton. In Glinton, turn right down North Fen Rd at the church (not well signposted), and continue until left at the T junction. At the next T, right then immediate left to cross Lincoln Rd. Under the A15 via the triple tunnel (the middle one is best). Left at the T with Etton Road, through Etton and straight over the next X roads.

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“Under the A15 via the triple tunnel (the middle one is best).”

After about 750m there is a manned level crossing which held me up for 20 minutes. After crossing the railway, turn left at the T junction onto Woodcroft Rd and then right at the next T into Marholm. In Marholm, R then immediate L into Castor Rd.

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The manned rail crossing between Etton and Marholm.


Turn right at the next T to cross the busy A47 and second left down Ferry Hill back to the start. (NB the first left is no entry and is an exit slip road from the A47.)

Total GW Distance = 42 miles

Refreshment stops: There are not many opportunities for refreshments en route, so if you want to build in a stop, plan a start/end point so that you arrive at the Ferry Meadows visitor centre (or one of the northern villages) for a break at a convenient time.

Link to interactive map

Kettering Hilly 20 mile Time Trial

results sheet

1980 results sheet

Back in 1980, the Kettering Friendly Cycling Club’s Hardriders’ Hilly 22 mile time trial was the traditional opening race of the new season. It was the first ever open event I rode, having ridden 20 club events the previous year, and a handful towards the end of the year before that. I finished at the back of the field, not surprisingly, in 1:12:40 (18.2 mph) for 33rd out of 42 starters and 6 non-starters.

Fast forward to 2015 and the event is still going, as the Mark Bell Memorial. Kettering Friendly CC amalgamated with Kettering Amateur CC to become Kettering CC (although as there still is a Kettering Amateur in existence I guess it wasn’t a unanimously supported decision). Also, due to changing road conditions, the old two laps of the Grafton Underwood, Slipton, Sudborough, Brigstock circuit has be replaced with a single lap encompassing the old course but only including two short stretches of it.

Although I had intended to enter this year, my training is still behind schedule so thought better of it. Looking at the start sheet though, one name does reappear from 1980, Richard Daniells timekeeper in both 1980 and 35 years later in 2015! So instead of racing I went out training first and then home to pick up my camera and take a few photos.

The winner was, unsurprisingly, Matt Bottrill, although 41:52 (28.7 mph) was very impressive on a super windy day.

Kettering CC Hilly 20

2015 winner Matt Bottrill

Kettering CC Hilly 20

Gavin Hinxman of the promoting club finishes 7th



Kettering CC Hilly 20

Phil Melling finished 6th, starting a minute behind favourite and winner Matt Bottrill.


Kettering CC Hilly 20

It has now become traditional to wear number thirteen upside down.



2nd placed Andy Jackson

2nd placed Andy Jackson

3rd placed Matt Sinclair

3rd placed Matt Sinclair

GPS elevation data revisited

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