Matlock Cycling Club – Evening 10 (2nd Place)

Pre-Race

After resting on Sunday, I hit the turbo trainer on Monday night to do a few efforts on the TT bike, the plan for this week was to do the Matlock Cycling Club (MCC) 10 which starts just down the road in Darley Dale on Tuesdays at 7pm. I did my first ever TT here back in June 2013, it took me over 26 minutes to complete, on the night that was a good time for me, I think I’d set myself something conservative like 30 minutes and in warm conditions I surpassed that by quite some way. Last night however the conditions were not looking great, a few showers around when I got home from work, a very stiff breeze blowing but also quite cold, not the sort of conditions conducive to doing a fast time. However last night I wasn’t too concerned about the time, I just wanted to race, the buzz of Saturday still firmly in my legs. I was quite relaxed, I’d put no real pressure on myself to perform, I just wanted to get out there and compete.

Having arrived in good time and familiar with where to park, I got kitted up and as the officials hadn’t arrived I decided to cycle some of the course to re-familiarise myself with the start and just check the conditions. The course starts on a side street, swings right over some train tracks and then goes up a shortish hill before joining the A6 heading towards Bakewell. In Bakewell you go around the small roundabout and then head back along the A6 to Darley Dale, finishing at the entrance to the recycling centre.

During my warm up I had a slight mechanical, this time the strap on my helmet came loose but thankfully nothing broken and I just stopped to sort it out and made my way back down to the start to get signed on. I recognised one rider as Paddy Gould who rides for MCC, I’ve seen his times in other races, he’s quick. As I handed over my £3 and then waited for my race number my thoughts went back to that first TT in June 2013, I can always remember looking in awe at the bikes that some people were on, tonight there was again a nice selection of Cervelo’s but my machine didn’t look out of place, in fact I thought it more than held its own. I also remember that last time I’d rode in at full pelt to get there on time, did the race and then had to race home before it got dark, this time I was somewhat more relaxed.

I eventually got my race number, “7”, lucky number 7 I thought, no reason why I thought that, just did. I asked a fellow rider to attach my number, this time I wasn’t so concerned if it was a bit flappy but he did a pretty good job. I returned the favour and we were both good to go. At sign on I’d heard the name “Matt Ingram”, it’s a name I’m familiar with as his name appears on a lot of the local strava segments, and indeed he only lives around the corner from me in South Wingfield, I introduced myself, it was nice to put a face to the name. I also knew he was quick, he puts in a lot of miles too, often very early in the morning so he was a rider I respected. There had been a delay with the numbers which meant I only had about 10 minutes to warm myself back up before making my way to the line. As mentioned it was also pretty chilly as the time passed 7 o clock so I didn’t feel quite as ready as I normally do, but it was the same for everyone so no excuses…..

Race Time

I’d approached the line still wearing my jersey over my B&DCC skin suit, normally you can leave things at the line and collect later, but clearly I should have left this at the officials car, rider number 8 kindly offered to take my jersey to the car, I really appreciated this and rolled to the line. I clipped in and before I knew it the time keeper counted down the familiar 5,4,3,2,1 and I was off. I’m not sure if I had the image of Wiggins in my head but I set off pretty quickly, probably to keep warm but it was not a sustainable pace so I tried to rain it in a little. I got into my best aero position and booted it down the lane, momentarily sitting up to cross the train tracks and then made my way up the hill to the A6. On my warm up I figured this would be no problem holding the aero position I’d just need to go up the cassette a bit and spin my legs, so spin I did. Bearing in mind my target race power is about 275W, I ended doing the first 1.5 miles in over 300W, the first 2 minutes in 330W, I was praying I wouldn’t pay for this later. I made my way onto the A6, luckily I didn’t get hampered, but then a 4×4 pulled out from a side street and I thought I was going to be blocked, luckily he saw me and pulled over allowing me to pass without too much bother. I now settled in for the out leg to Bakewell.

The wind doth blow

The out leg was into the wind, it was pretty strong, my average speed regularly dropped below 20mph as I focused on maintaining a good power level. The course has a few hill inclines, nothing major but it tests the legs and means you have to balance your effort, not losing too much time going up the incline, but not going too deep into the red, I managed it pretty well, so much so that I’d passed my minute man after only 3.5 miles. As I came past the Bakewell show ground a Range Rover pulled out with a horse box attached, thankfully she only pulled half way and I continued up towards the turn. As I came into Bakewell a large articulated  lorry was pulling out of the junction, it was effectively blocking the road, but as I went back around the range rover I darted safely up the inside and as if by magic the lorry cleared out the way and I made my way to the roundabout, it’d cost me a couple of seconds but no more.

Turn and Burn

Although your legs will be burning, the return leg is the easier part, the wind was now helping a little and the terrain is a bit easier, it’s also on roads I’ve ridden many times so I was a little more precise judging my effort. For the last 4 miles I was doing between 28 and 32mph, it felt good going that speed, a reward for the demanding out leg into the headwind. Time wise I was going well, power wise also pretty good, I’d also noticed my heart rate was lower, probably due to the cold, but the effort I was putting in felt more manageable as I came around the corner in Rowsley. I’d passed a couple more riders just before the turn but as I came onto the final 0.6 mile sprint for home there was another rider up ahead, this proved a great motivator and I just went for it. I gave it my all and shouted my number as I crossed the line, the time 23m 17s, I thought that would be pretty good tonight, I was certainly pleased with it. I turned around  and made my way back to the finish, did a little cool down and pulled up at the starters car to see Paddy Gould there, he’d started in front of me.

Race Analysis

I asked Paddy how he’d got on, a veteran of this time trial he confirmed that he’d thought it was a very tough night, he’d done a 22:37, that meant he was only 40s in front of me which I was pretty chuffed with, I’d expected to be 1 minute, maybe 90s behind. At this point I introduced myself, he’d recognised my name from Strava, we had a good chat about course times and how he felt this was a “proper course”, I agreed with him and we both made our way over to the time keeper. As I scanned down, I was in 2nd place, I’d even beat Matt Ingram, there were a few more riders to finish but as it was getting cold I followed Paddy up the A6 eventually turning off and heading back to my car.

When I got home I uploaded my ride to Strava and checked what a few others had done, I was still 2nd, checking the MCC Facebook page later on confirmed my placing, I was 2nd..  I’d also beaten a few riders that I knew were a good standard, my strava time for the course put me 16th out 77 people that had done it previously, not bad for a cold and windy night, I’d also gone 7th out of 2977 people on one of the smaller 3 mile segments on the route!

Position: 2nd / 19.

Time: 23:17.

Average Power: 272W (-3W from Power PB of 275 set at Sleaford)

Due to its proximity it’s a race I’m likely to do more often than Cuckney, it’ll be good to track my progress, both time wise and against other riders. I’ve set a goal of 22m 30s, that’s 47s quicker than tonight which’ll be no mean feat but it’s not supposed to be easy. The only thing left to do before I next climb on my TT bike is to check the cassette out, it looked very wonky causing the chain to catch, that’s a few seconds saved right there…….

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