The build up
After a couple of tough rides over the weekend my legs were still aching during the day on Tuesday, so much so that I considered not racing at Matlock but going to Cuckney the day after instead, the weather forecast looking good for a fast time too. But with the conditions at Matlock supposed to be warmer with a lighter wind than last week I figured it would be good to stick to my plan and race here. Having raced on this course last week, I was already thinking of lowering my PB, from 23:17 to a long 22 minutes, anything under 23 would be a good leap forward.
Having got home and eaten a pre-made bowl of pasta I loaded up my bike and kit into the car and then waited for Mrs Murph and Junior Murph to arrive home so I could have some family time before making the short trip down to Darley Dale. After 30 minutes play on the back garden and a look at the horses in the field, known to Charlie as “Bobboes”, we came back in for some wind down time before getting Charlie ready for bed. With him safely on the sofa with his “milky” I got my trainers on and set off for tonight’s time trial.
Arriving in good time, I parked up, opened the car door to be met by a very strong wind, gusting much stronger than last week. I was ruing my decision not to skip tonight and do Cuckney on Wednesday but figured it would be more good practice in different conditions, after all, living in England if you only raced when it was perfect, you’d never race at all. As I began to get kitted up I spoke with another rider who was equally apprehensive of the conditions, at least it was warmer though we said, searching for a positive. I rolled around to the start area I decided to sign in early before setting off on my warm up. Cycling down the first section of the course again I trialled going over the train tracks in the aero position but decided that would be the last time I’d do that, no point risking it in the race. During the warm up I felt pretty good, having almost decided on a day’s rest I was pleased that I’d decided to race as I headed out towards Rowsley. As I pulled in to take a swig of water and to consume my caffeine gel I could feel the gusts of wind, it would be unlikely that I’d be going quicker tonight but with last week’s winner not racing could I win? At the very least I’d be aiming to put out more than the 272W I did last week.
The start time is a little bit more relaxed at Matlock, 7pm is more of guide but eventually I got my number, 7 again, maybe a good omen I thought. Having spoken with a couple of riders about bikes, (they were quite interested in my Canyon) I had another chat with Matt Ingram who also mentioned the windy conditions, but with little time to go before the off I decided to have a quick wazz behind some bushes and got into race mode. I prefer how my own club does our races in that you get your number at least 30 mins before the start, this ensures you are fully kitted up, can commence a warm up and then come to the line ready to go. Getting your number 10 minutes before the first rider sets off is not ideal, I think this actually favours the later starters, starting 7th meant I just did a couple of minutes of riding, a couple of spin ups and then got to the line, this time leaving my warm up jersey in the officials’ car.
I’d started my Garmin a little too early meaning my elapsed time already indicated 5 seconds, I’d also find out later that this would affect my Strava segment time as I waited at a standstill for 1 minute, it doesn’t really matter it’d just be harder to compare my race with last week, lesson learned. 5,4,3,2 and then 1 and I was off down the lane quickly getting into my aero position. The wind immediately buffeting me around as I seemed to find the bumpiest piece of road in Darley Dale, a look at the speed meant I needed to push and push I did as I sped round the corner, crossed the train tracks and went up the cassette as I ascended the hill towards the A6. Thankfully after giving my bike to Malcolm at Castle Cycles the chain was no longer catching on the frame, he’d even touched the paintwork up too which was great service as usual. Entering the A6 without hindrance I again began battling the wind as I headed toward Rowsley, earlier in the day I’d aimed to do 280-285W to the roundabout in Bakewell, as with last week I was initially well over 300W but the stats would later show that I’d equalled my time from last week to the A6 so my initial pacing for the first section was pretty good.
I didn’t know if I could beat my time from last week but what I did know was that my legs felt pretty good, the wind was stronger though, the gusts hindering my speed as I battled to keep the wattage on track. By the turn I had caught and passed all 6 people who had started before me as I then focused on the traffic in Bakewell town centre. A lorry was approaching the roundabout in front of me, I said to myself “please get round quick”, thankfully there was no traffic coming from the right but it took an age to get out the way, the only thing in my way now was a Vauxhall Corsa which was slowed by the lorry, even though it was costing me time I remained calm and resisted the urge to sprint out the roundabout, instead I collected my thoughts and made the turn for home.
Like last week the wind would be helping, but unlike last week it wasn’t a constant wind, the gusts came and went meaning I wasn’t going quite as quick, but still my power was good and the time looked OK, I also remembered that whatever my Garmin was saying I could take off 5 seconds. Whilst my legs felt ok my mouth was extremely dry, it had been since the turn, there was no chance this was from lack of hydration, I’d drank loads in the day, some at home and plenty before the off but maybe I’ll go back to Lucozade instead of water, maybe I’ll even consider taking a small amount in a bottle with me, even for a 10 as it happens every time.
Anyway back to the race and the push to the line. Last week I was pleased that for the final section of 0.6 mile “MCC Club 10 Finish” on Strava https://www.strava.com/segments/4116676?filter=overall&gender=both I’d produced 282W which was above my race pace, although pleased I felt I had left a bit out there so this time I really gritted my teeth and with no riders to chase down it was just me, my dry mouth and my burning legs for (dis) comfort. This section seemed to go on forever, mainly because I was going to be outside of my time from last week, but with the finish line in sight I just emptied all my reserves and crossed the line. The official time 23:30, so 23 seconds slower than last week. The data would show afterwards that I did that final section with an increase of 10 watts and finished 5 seconds quicker, a pity I’d lost time on the out leg.
After handing in my race number and gulping down some water I headed over to the finish line and the time sheet, as each rider came through I was still winning, but then a 23:08 showed up for Andy Woolf, so I was now in 2nd as I waited for the final 2 riders to finish. As I looked up I saw rider 16 come hurtling past the line, even with my limited experience it looked fast, and fast it was 22:59 was written down, meaning I’d be 3rd overall on the night.
I think it’s interesting to compare some times, Chris Green who won this evening actually went 20 seconds quicker than he did last week, Andy Woolf who came 2nd went 37 seconds quicker, as mentioned I was 23 seconds slower despite producing slightly more power. Tim Hall actually went 53 seconds quicker last night which seems incredible, either he’s on a quick progression or had a bad run last week. Matt Ingram, who I know is pretty consistent and who’s ability I’m more familiar with went 4 seconds quicker, a couple more riders did the same or went quicker which leaves me a little baffled!
Chris Green has done (in order), 22:48, 23:07, 23:19 and last night a 22:59 so reasonably consistent, I think he would be a person to aim for, currently it’s one a piece.
I created a Strava segment that shows the start to the turn https://www.strava.com/segments/9577699?filter=my_results&gender=both ,
As you can see I was 8 seconds slower last night, I was also 6 seconds slower from the roundabout to the start of the final section last night but then 4 seconds quicker this week on the final section so this leaves me even more confused. The only conclusion I can draw for my final time is that I lost quite a bit of time on the turn stuck behind the Corsa, I know last week I’d flew around without any obstruction, this time I had pretty much stopped then had to wait so it’s quite possible I lost my time there, still doesn’t stack up but never mind it is what it is, no point complaining I’ll just try harder next time.
Times are dependent on a number of factors, the weather and traffic the main ones but judging your own performance when you have a power meter is always comparing apples with apples, last week I had produced an average of 272W, this week despite feeling a bit more fatigued I had produced 275W, not much more but it shows I sustained more power this week than last and that was a real positive. The more I do this course the better I will get, my target of 22:30 whilst seemingly a way off tonight should be within my range if I can continue to improve.
Quite a busy schedule of racing coming up, Saturday will be the National Team Time Trial over in Newark, a few days later I’m entered in the MCC Grouse 10 which takes in 95% of the main Matlock club 10 course, then weather permitting I’ll try Cuckney again the following week before racing in my first solo 25 mile TT at Matlock on the 21st. Hopefully that won’t fatigue me too much as on the 24th June it’s my own clubs event on a 22K hill fest. Bring them on I say…………