After a mixed couple of weeks where I have competed in the National Team Trial, injured my back and decided to start working with a coach it was time to get back to business and have another crack at the Matlock club 10 on Tuesday of this week, sadly as I was going through Matlock I realised that I’d forgotten my skin suit, riding naked not really an option, pinning a number onto my bare back even less appealing.
So despite saying I would marshal at my clubs inaugural Sporting Course (SpoC0) event on Wednesday I had a change of mind and decided to race instead. Sporting Courses are usually on rolling terrain, our take on that was two tough hills, two fast descents interspersed with a bit of flat. The race had met with disapproval from a few traditionalist fossils but being the innovative club we are we proceeded anyway and with the weather on our side come start time we had 61 riders signed on. An amazing turn out and a firm finger in the eye for the haters.
Not having done a recce I got there early to try the toughest climb, Foxes Lane for the first time. If I was riding my road bike it’d not bother me, but my TT bike is a different animal, a heavier animal at that. Having got kitted up I rolled down Foxes lane did a U-turn and made my way back up. It was pretty horrendous, I was pouring with sweat as I struggled my way up, I then realised the gearing on my TT bike is different and moved up the cassette to make life a bit easier. I pulled back in the car park, had a brief moan about a road bike being more suited and consoled myself with a banana cob.
I began chatting with my club mate Simon Travel, we’d been discussing the race during the day, he’d had the luxury of a recce but thankfully was happy to share the knowledge. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere as more and more riders came in, some on road bikes, some on TT rigs. I figured this would be a good time to get signed on, I’d be setting off 2nd so wearing number 2, Zoe Hibbard, obviously keen was number 1, Simon starting behind me with number, yes you’ve guessed it, number 3. Lots of familiar faces showed up, Danny Featherstone and the newest member of the AMAC racing team Joel Candy looking good in their yellow and blue kit. The kit was nice but Danny’s new bike even nicer, a Trek Emonda SLR weighing in at 5.7 KG!! I swear he’ll have to tie that down on windy days, very very nice. Although a bit heavier it was great to see my National team time trial partner Dan Farrand on his new setup as well, finally a bike that he can begin to make use of, he certainly looked a lot better on it.
Start line picture, (from the left) Zoe, Me, Simon, Bill (Marshall) and Phil. The white arm is Mrs Seddon.
Anyway, back to business, heart rate strap on, power meter calibrated, suit zipped up, velotoze carefully stretch over feet, helmet tightened it was time to make my way to the start. Simon and I rode down together, the descent of Foxes lane not ideal for warming up so we both took advantage of the lanes around the start area and got ourselves in race mode. For me that involves a caffeine gel, a toilet break (bushes near the start) and a few hard efforts to get my body ready for the 12.4 miles of torture to come. Bill Seddon and his better half were on starting duties, again showing the generosity that we have in the club, it’s people giving up their own time that makes these events possible and for that, every rider is always thankful. As Zoe blasted off up the road, I moved in to position. A bit of banter on the start line with Simon suggesting my brakes looked a little loose, I knew they weren’t but I checked anyway, and then it was the familiar 5,4,3,2,1 GO, so off I went.
Route profile courtesy of Veloviewer.com
The plan was to go normal TT pace for the first couple of miles over rolling terrain before hitting Foxes Lane, but glancing down I was well over that so tried to rain it in a bit. I struggled to find a rhythm, my speed quite erratic, was 18mph too slow, was 20 mph slow I couldn’t tell so just focused on turning the pedals. As I came around the corner Zoe was up ahead, I’d caught her quicker than expected, not surprising given that I was going a bit quicker than planned, as I passed her I switched mentally to the task in hand, Foxes Lane. With 2 marshals keeping us all safe I nervously dropped to the little ring and began spinning my legs up the climb, the spinning soon turned into a grind as I mashed my 36/23 (and a bit of 36/25) up the hill. I took the out of the saddle approach and apart from a brief sit down (not by the roadside) , I climbed out the saddle to the top of the climb. It felt slow, I knew the lighter guys on lighter bikes would put huge amounts of time into me there, no bother, descent time!
After the climb I struggled for a little while to bring my speed up on the flat but thankfully the terrain soon headed downwards and I pushed on. 25mph, 30mph, 36mph, at this point I stopped pedalling and got as aero as I could, 40mph, 42mph before sitting up to negotiate the junction ahead, no need to stop, marshals waving me through as I entered the 2 mile descent to the turn. I’m familiar with this road, the surface is pretty good and you can see a long way ahead, so I got aero and went as fast as I dared. Max speed (look away mum…) would be recorded at 48.8mph, pretty rapid, but it felt stable, I’d surely not be losing much time on this section.
I approached the roundabout, again expertly marshalled, circled it and headed back up the road I’d descended on my way to Owler Bar. Long climbs on the TT bike aren’t ideal, the gradient was kind of in between sitting up or keeping on the extensions but I think I balanced it quite well as I focused on a wattage that meant I was on the limit but wouldn’t blow. As I went up, riders including Simon were making their way down the hill, Simon giving a “Woohoo” obviously enjoying the respite. After 2 miles the climb eventually relents a little and it’s definitely aero extension time as I continued up the hill, I’d passed 3 mountain bikes on the way up, one of them put in a little sprint alongside me and gave a cheer as if he’d crossed an imaginary finish line. My own finish line was still over 3 miles away, my sprint would have to wait.
With more encouragement from the marshal’s I momentarily forgot where I was going but was guided along ok and dug in as the road went up some more. I knew after this tougher little section the hard stuff was pretty much done so as I crested the hill I took a final swig from my bottle and put the hammer down, well I went as fast I could anyway.
After a flat section the road did spike up for a short distance, I made a bit of a mistake here, getting caught in the wrong gear meant I lost a bit of momentum, or maybe the gear was ok but my legs were fading. With that negotiated I could see the Owler bar junction, a very strange set of roads but my focus here was to get around as quick as possible, a car was approaching but kindly waved me through, (I gave him the thumbs up), having spotted the marshals, they spotted me, the path was clear as I swung wide and again I just buried myself to keep the speed up. I knew this section was TT bike territory, so I maintained my form and pedalled hard in the knowledge that it would soon be over. A glance at my elapsed time showed 37 minutes, I’d figured a sub 40 minute time would be a decent effort but as I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin the time was 38:01, so all in all a good effort. As I spun around to wait for Simon I checked the average power I had produced, Simon and I had a side bet going on who could average the most power, 257W was my output. A few minutes later Simon crossed the line in just over 40 minutes, like myself he’d given it everything.
After getting his breath back we briefly discussed the race, I’d beat him on time, he’d beat me on power, I’ll take that and we made our way back to the start, thankfully choosing a route that avoided Foxes lane. It was good to see some other riders racing down the hill, some clearly braver than others, the field was packed with quality riders so I figured 34 minutes would probably win and I wasn’t too far off, Chris Bevan taking top spot with 33:41 a superb effort. From the 55 finishers, I’d come in 18th, 52 seconds behind Joel who was 15th, and 1m 15s behind Danny in 14th which I was quite pleased with.
38 minutes of hard work.
Strava Analysis – Murph vs Featherstone
I’ve not had the opportunity to speak with Danny, so not sure if he had a good race or not, as mentioned above I was happy to finish this close. But I think the picture below is interesting, it shows the gap between us over the course. At 2 miles I was slightly ahead, after Foxes Lane Danny was 57s up, I made time up on him going to the turn (Danny still 33s up), by the end of the long climb to Owler Bar Danny had extended the lead to 1m 45s but for the last 3.4 miles I actually made up some time to finish 1m 15s down overall.
A superb event, expertly ran, well marshalled and hard fought, the results are shown below, please note the average speed is wrong, as a guide I did 19.6 mph. Well done to all those involved both on and off the bike. There may be some more pictures from the night, I’ll update those later. Back to the training….