This Tuesday, I headed off to Oxford for an informal evening event put on by TVOC at Brill village. The event is held every year, and I’ve been quite a few times in the last few years. Unfortunately Brill is not an easy village to get to – long ago, the London Underground used to stretch out that far – these days it’s a train out to Oxford, then an hour long cycle ride eastwards, over several hills and through several picturesque villages, before a final 80m ascent into the village itself. There are two things I always remember about Brill – the windmill and the nettles. This year, the nettles weren’t too bad, and the windmill looked very picturesque in the warm evening sunlight.

The map is another interesting thing about this race. Brill has a huge village common – bigger than the village itself. Part of the common extends right down the hill. The map is drawn, rather uniquely, with a contour interval of 1.67 metres. This year, the map was pre-printed (although we were still using pin-punches.) The map almost fits onto an A5 sheet, at 1:5000, so it really is a small area.

Brill Map

The race format was a mass-start, three loop race. Having arrived exhausted, and slightly late, I was allowed a breather before heading off into the common. The effect of three loops over the same area meant that the common was pretty thoroughly visited, as the aerial photograph of my race shows:

Brill Route

The colours correspond to my heart-rate. A couple of features stand out – the climb to the finish/loop changeover point with me finding the climb tough (red) every-time I approached it, and my extended pause (blue-green) at the northern end of the course, when I thought I had missed out an earlier control.

For some reason, the weather is always very nice for the Brill race. Hopefully next year’s will continue in the tradition.

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