The build up
So after missing my planned season opener last week at Retford due to an ongoing health issue I focussed my effort on my clubs promotion at Hatfield Woodhouse. Although for now I am not burdening myself with any structured training I’d had a decent week on the bike, getting 3 rides of various intensities in. The final ride on Thursday after an unplanned day off due to a wonky boiler, (not Mrs Supermurph, the actual gas fired one), gave me confidence that there is some power in my legs so all that was left to do was have a rest on Friday and get the bike setup for Saturday.
The first rider was off at 14:00, my start time was 15:48 so this allowed me to have a relaxed morning before making my way up to Hatfield Woodhouse at just after 1pm. As I mentioned on my first post I did do this event last year in horrific conditions and I’d also covered the course a few weeks ago as part of the longer 25 mile 2UP time trial, so I am familiar with the HQ and the surroundings, this is a great help as it’s good to know where you can warm up if you plan to do this on the road and not on a turbo trainer. Typically for Hatfield Woodhouse the wind was blowing strongly again and much colder so perhaps not a day for fast times, not by me anyway.
As I arrived in the car park it’s always good to see a few club mates to have a chat to and generally take your mind off the pain and suffering that’s about to ensue. Having not been on my TT bike for 2 weeks, my plan was to have a quick spin to check out the conditions before coming back and getting ready for first my warm up and then the race itself. I changed into my warm up kit, smothered my legs in tiger balm, calibrated my power meter, turned on my light, fastened my helmet and pressed start on my Garmin as I exited the car park and got into my aero position. Reassuringly I felt at home on the bike and as I began to bring up the power the nerves began to dissipate. I did about 4 miles before returning back to the car park to keep myself warm. The question now, was what sort of time could I put in and what strategy to employ?.
From the feedback coming in from the riders already completing their race, it was clear that it would be a tailwind out and then the always annoying headwind coming back, various riders added in their own expletives to describe the wind coming back, Mandy Davies face epitomising the conditions, Bill Seddon taking great delight that he was now done. I quizzed Bill on his time, 23:27 was what he’d done, I’d say this was about a minute down on what I’d expected so I immediately began to dumb down my own expectations of doing something in the region of 23:15 – 23:40.
Having spent some time in the HQ, with my team mates Farrand, Dodson and Johnson I looked at my phone and noticed I had one hour to go, time to start getting ready. Normally I’d be appalled to hear about men bending over in car parks and having their bottoms touched but in time trialling it’s quite normal as people help affix fellow competitors race numbers on, however I do think one of those nice Nopinz speedpockets will be making an appearance soon. Will I miss the closeness of my club mates? Maybe a little. So with race number on, more tiger balm applied to my legs, I took a swig of my bottle, consumed my caffeine gel and rolled out the car park to commence my warm up for real, roughly 30 minutes before go time.
I had intended to follow a structured warm up but decided to just bring my heart rate up, add in some short high cadence bursts and make sure I got to the line as near as possible to my start time to avoid getting cold. Having dashed back for a quick swig of lucazade I arrived at the line at 15:47, perfect. I dispensed with my warm jersey, and positioned my bike on the line. The starter held me in place and then as my time approached, 5,4,3,2,1 – GO!.
Although it felt a little sheltered to begin with I knew the out leg (the course essentially goes 5 miles to a roundabout and then back to the start/finish line) would be by far the quickest so I consciously set off holding a bit in reserve, I wanted to be able to push all the way to the line on the return leg and not be completely gassed after 7 miles. Again I felt comfortable as I attempted to settle into a rhythm, balancing the need to go quickly with the need to not go too quickly is very difficult even for experienced racers, this being my first proper attempt at time trialling I paid it particular attention. The road surface in places is not the best, it knocked my concentration, but I quickly thought it’s the same for everyone and desperately tried to find the smoothest piece of tarmac I could and pushed on to the turn. As I approached the roundabout (it’s not actually that round) I remembered that on the 25 mile event my calf cramped up as I got out the saddle to power out of the turn, so this time I aimed for a smoother line and just remained seated, it worked, no real loss of speed but better still no cramp.
Turn and burn
I’d hit the turn in about 10m:45s, so at this point I was happy with my pacing, I knew before the off that 23:30 was unlikely but could I get under 24 minutes, it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying. The conditions on the way back were tough, not exactly brutal but hard enough to really test your metal. After 8 miles I had a little bad patch, nothing major but enough to slow my speed a bit, but as my legs recovered and I checked the elapsed time against the distance covered I dug in with the knowledge that it would be close to beating 24 minutes. I had a slower rider up ahead to focus on as I reached the point where my power balancing act finished and the empty the tanks mission started and as I pedalled as hard as I could I thought I saw the finish line. Glancing at the clock I was going to make it but sadly this wasn’t the finish line, I had another 100 metres or so to go! I kept on pushing and there it was, the best site in the world at that moment, the finish line!
Team mates and the winner, top row, Mick Dodson, Dan Farrand, Dan Barnett, bottom row, Bill Seddon, Xavi Scott and me.
As I crossed the line I had nothing left, I had screamed and grimaced my way through that last half mile, today I could do no more, well I’m sure there’s always something you can do but I felt happy. I’d hit the lap button on my garmin just after the line, it said 24 something, so I hoped that I’d still got a chance of breaking 24 minutes. To be honest, although the week started with hopes of a low 23, I knew that today I’d given my all, no regrets this would now be my new PB. I did a short cool down to allow the lactic acid to flush away before heading back to HQ. As I came into the car park, Mick, who had started 2 minutes behind me was unhappy with his race, he’d had a few start line issues, me? I was happy he hadn’t caught me! You win some you lose some I guess.
I packed up my bike, put some layers on and guzzled down a chocolate milkshake before heading in to the HQ to have my time confirmed, 24:07 was my official time, a solid start in tough conditions and only 40 seconds behind Bill which was pretty pleasing. As we discussed our races with each other the final times began to come up on the ever efficient B&DCC projector system, Xavi had put in a great time to come 6th with a 22:23, Mick 13th with a 22:58, Bill 29th with his 23:27. I came in 50th (out of 126) , various other B&DCC riders put in great efforts, stand out time for me though was 24:16 by Craig Devonshire who on the back of some consistent training shattered his PB by about 4 minutes, the healthy competition will surely spur us all on. The winning time of 21:28 was set by Dan Barnett who took a great win against some strong riders, I’d not met Dan prior to the event but he’d given me some pointers via facebook which I’d really appreciated. That’s one aspect of time trialling that really appeals, everyone is always happy to help and offer advice, it makes something that can be confusing, even daunting become simpler and more enjoyable. At the end of the day it’s you against the clock, if that time means you win then chapeau to you, if it gives you motivation to go faster next time that’s not a bad thing either.
The final word goes to my club and all the helpers who gave up their time to allow us all to race, without them, no matter how many miles you put in, how many intervals you do or how shiny your bike is none of this can happen.
Photo’s courtesy of: http://craigzadphotos.zenfolio.com/bolsover10
Next race is another 10 mile event, this time at Sleaford on the 4th April.