A word to the wise, if you don’t want to spend the next 5 minutes hearing a grown man whinging on about poor preparation, excuses and injuries then feel free to skip down to the results and analysis section!!
“Failure to Prepare, Prepare to Fail”
Whoever first said that was right, especially right for me last night (Wednesday). Having done a solid 50 miles on the road bike on Sunday I followed that with two days’ rest on Monday and Tuesday, not ideal preparation for last night’s club 10 at Cuckney. Instead of some time on the TT bike I instead spent most of the time faffing around with inner tubes that weren’t right or trying to find ones that were. These inner tubes were needed for my new wheels, a 40th birthday present from Mrs Supermurph, that I’d hope would give me a bit more speed and see me further lower my PB, sadly as I now write this post the wheels are still in the shed without tyres on, more on that later.
I got home in good time last night, but with my ongoing anxiety issues I further exacerbated the problem by messing around and whittling about things that I didn’t need to, net result by the time I actually got to Cuckney my warm up routine was compromised (sounds like a military operation in progress, sometimes it feels like it), still I thought it might be one of those “expect to do bad, actually do good” type of races, that wouldn’t turn out to be the case. By the time I’d got signed on and kitted up the first rider was almost off, this meant that I’d have to warm up on different roads and not be able to go back for my drink. Having spent 20 minutes riding around I spotted one of my B&DCC colleagues Simon Travell who kindly gave me a gulp of his drink, my mind immediately flashed back to last year when we did the Cheshire Cat Sportive and he’d had to do the same as I completely forgot to put water in my bottle, he’d remind me of this later. But even though I was grateful, it was too late, my mouth was dry and I lacked any focus to put in my best effort. But worse than all this was the fact that for some unknown reason despite being super comfortable on my TT bike I’d altered the position of the bars the night before and having not done any testing the new position felt terrible, further hampering my focus, lesson well and truly learned.
On the line
As I rolled to the start line Zoe Hibbard was on time keeping duties again, always with a smile which helps dissipate some of the nerves, but this time it was fellow TT’er Dave Johnson who would be holding me in place, last time it’d been my chief rival Craig Devonshire, but he’d already blasted off up the road earlier. He looked quick, his position also looked better than I’d seen before, I doubt anyone would be saying that about me tonight. So as Zoe counted down from five I hit start on the Garmin and set off up the road. I noticed last time I had lost quite a bit of time to other riders on the 1st mile so while I wasn’t going to “blow my wod” I purposely set off with a bit more speed. Unlike three weeks ago when the conditions were quite still, there was a definite breeze blowing, was it helping or hindering I really couldn’t tell. For almost every race I’ll do there will be objectives, normally this will be to do a time based personal best (PB), but that can be dependent on the conditions so other objectives can be based on power or performance against my rivals. While obviously wanting to beat Craig, I’d also wanted to monitor the gap against other riders, notably Bill, Xavi (B&DCC) and also to Ian Guilor who would most likely win again. But in addition to that I also wanted to compare my power output, last time I’d put out 261W while setting my PB, so to beat that would be a good indicator that I’m getting stronger, although having ruined my position this was never going to be like for like.
Bill Seddon looking quick and taking the best looking bike prize again:
Craig in attack mode:
The out leg
The new position was annoying me from the start, it was also distracting me as I fidgeted around on the bike, but glancing at my power I was averaging above 280W and continually seeing 300+ so maybe it wasn’t all bad as I ploughed on in search of a PB. The poor position was now relegated to 2nd place in the list of concerns, due to my poor preparation my mouth was now like Gandhi’s flip flop and I still had about 7 miles to go. Oh joy. The last race I’d continually filled my head with positives, tonight I just couldn’t focus on anything, apart from WHY DID I MOVE THOSE DAMN BARS!!??? Up ahead was my minute man, I refocused on him and then steadily caught and passed him as I continued along.
I was expecting the ramp to be the most painful bit but as I pedalled hard I was hit with a familiar pain, a twinge in my left calf, at first it wasn’t as bad as when I’d got it in the 2UP time trial but it didn’t disappear as I made my way on the out leg. I tried to remained seated on the 6% ramp but then decided to stand up to maintain speed, this turned out to be a mistake. As I got out the saddle to inject some pace my calf had other ideas, I was in considerable pain, pain I can deal with but I just couldn’t pedal as it went into some kind of spasm. As I then went back down the 6% ramp to head for home I eased right off hoping it would pass, it didn’t, it got worse. But with 4 miles still to go I had a two choices, back off and limp home or carry on, I carried on. I’m so brave. I figured that despite everything my average power still looked ok, so time wise I probably wasn’t far away from last time. As my mouth got drier and drier, not helped by a fly getting stuck in my throat I just buckled down and did what I could. Whilst I do feel there is a weakness in my left calf I think the problem is made worse when dehydrated, I hope this is the last time I put myself in this position. Next time, fully hydrate and apply deep heat, this time I’d done neither.
This sums up the pain quite well:
Comparing my previous PB, tonight and against Craig:
The final push
With 2 miles left, this is normally where I have my bad spell, but I’d been having a bad spell since before the turn so just dug in and pushed as much as I could. At this point I felt that a time PB wasn’t going to happen, but amazingly my average power was still above what I’d done before, probably because of the wind and less aero position but still, amongst all the negatives that was a positive. Mile 9 approached and I just hit the go button to give it my all, whilst I managed a bit more, my calf by this point was screaming stop, “Shut up legs” wasn’t quite working for me and as the clocked ticked towards 23 minutes I could feel the disappointment, I passed the line a few seconds after and hit the stop button on my Garmin. 23:06 was the official time, 18 seconds slower than last time.
The aim tonight was to be under 22:30 but in slightly slower conditions and having produced more power despite the injury, (did I mention I had a bad calf?), then maybe it wasn’t all bad. I rolled into the make shift car park, “how did you do?”, “crap” was my answer. That was an honest response, as I began to tire and the pain in my calf got worse, I really couldn’t muster any positives. Craig came over and asked me how I did, “crap!” I replied again, but I instantly felt that he thought crap could have been 22:49. I could sense he was happy with his time and as he spoke with Joel and myself he said he’d been happy to go under 24. I thought this was odd, he’s quicker than that, but anyway I got changed and limped (bad calf, did I mention it?), over to the laptop. My name was directly below Craig, he’s done 22:54 (he obviously meant “under 23”) a new PB for him and a (one legged) arse kicking for me.
Before I go into the numbers I’d just like to express my thanks to the marshal’s and time keepers again, as always a professional and courteous job well done. It’s always a nice feeling that as you’re pedaling hard and focusing on going quick, someone is there trying to keep you safe. Thanks also to Brian Hall for the pictures, he said some aren’t his best, but to me they are always excellent.
Results and Analysis
As I expected Ian Guilor took top spot but great to see my two club mates in 2nd and 3rd, I’m sure they’ll close that gap soon enough. Craig took 9th with his PB, I ended up 10th. As I write this section of the blog two days after the event it’s given me time to reflect and things feel quite positive, I went 18 seconds slower than my PB but did a higher power output and struggled for over half with an injury to my calf (I believe I mentioned the injury?).
PB and Last Night Stats: (Strava segment times)
The journey home
With the car loaded up I made my way home, there would be no celebratory McDonald’s tonight. Further to my annoyance my lovely 88mm deep section wheel, with its shiny new cassette was gloating at me from the foot well. I’ve now got 2 days to get the right tubes and then get the damn tyres onto the rim before the weekend. On Saturday I’ll be racing on the V718 in Hull, amongst a few club mates a certain Bradley Wiggins will also be racing, he’s four minutes in front of me. It’s an event I really don’t want to miss so I’m praying that my calf, although still really sore today (Friday) will heal enough to allow me to race. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I really don’t want to miss this, in reality I’ll be on the start line, if the calf goes bang, it goes bang. At least I’ll have my new wheels on, I hope……….