First of all, an apology. In my diary in the magazine this week, I claimed John Tuckett had pulled his foot out of the pedal as I caught him in the National ’25’. Apparently the problem was actually that the pedal slid off its spindle.

I?m aware that the practical difference between these two events is not massive, but I may as well try to get it right. And, if you?re reading John, deepest sympathy. Having a component wait until a championship event to fall to bits must be pretty frustrating. Well done on hanging on for fifth place.

I spent the first half of the ’25’ riding hard, and the second half, when I?d built up a reasonable lead, worrying about whether I was going to puncture. I found that if I concentrated really hard, I could feel the join in the tread on my back tyre when it hit the road on each revolution. This gave me something to worry about every two-and-a-bit metres for twelve miles. What can I say? It passed the time.

I?d have to say there didn?t seem to be as much excitement surrounding the ’25’ as there had been two weeks earlier at the ’10’. I suggested last week that maybe the ?blue-riband? status of the ’25’ is fading a bit, and the ’10’ is taking over. That was still how it looked on Sunday ? fewer spectators, a bit less atmosphere.

It might just be that the ’10’ comes first on the calendar, so it?s the first big rendezvous of the year. There is always a lot of speculation in the weeks running into it ? who?s going fast, who has barely raced, who seems to have lost the plot entirely. But then it?s in the nature of testing that whoever rides well in the ’10’ normally rides well at the ’25’, so there are fewer surprises.

Michael Hutchinson National 25 time trial 2008Hutch in the National ’25’

Or it might be that it?s just the faster event, in the same way that the 100m sprint has taken over from the 1,500m as the blue-riband event in athletics. Certainly there is something attractive about the big efforts and tight time-margins in the ten. I still like the ’25’, but maybe that?s because I?ve always had more trouble winning it.

If you?re a national-level time triallist, this time of year has a rhythm. There is a championship race every fortnight for eight weeks, followed a week later by the national 24-hour on July 26. Depending how on how many of the races you end up doing, you can spend what feels more like eight months than eight weeks training for a week, backing off for a week, driving to the other end of the country to stay in yet another Travel Lodge, riding another championships, and waking on Monday morning feeling like you?ve been beaten up.

I sometimes feel like I?m getting too old for it all. This year, I think I might let it go after the National ’50’, on Saturday week in Yorkshire.

But more about that next week.


Michael Hutchinson writes the ‘Dr Hutch’ column for Cycling Weekly every week. He is current British National 10- and 25-mile time trial champion, author and athlete’s hour record attemptee.