It’s been almost a month since I last pinned a number on my back, that break has been for a number of reasons, firstly bad planning on my part meaning I missed entry to a couple of races, I’ll put that down as a learning experience for next year. Secondly I had a stomach bug which derailed my training for a week and then thirdly the weather and traffic jams on the M1 conspired against me! On the positive side though, since starting my training plan and working with Justyn Cannon I feel that I’m making some gains performance wise, the sessions are simple in design but brutal in execution, I’ve enjoyed the challenge and it’s really helped me to focus.
It would have been great if I could have done the solid 5 week block, but with illness that’s not been possible, however I am focused on keeping healthy so looking forward to re-testing on Friday and then beginning the next 4-5 week block of training.
Last night I deviated from the plan as I was itching to race, I’m on the reserve list for the V718 next week and was keen to get out the turbo room and onto the tarmac, if you manage to read all of this post you’ll see it was a worthwhile exercise. I had a few choices last night, a 25 mile TT at Etwall, a 10 mile TT at Cuckney or a 10 mile TT at Matlock. With Etwall downgraded to a 10 due to roadworks I decided to go to Matlock. Family time complete, I loaded the car with kit and equipment and off I went, 20 minutes later I arrived at the HQ. I’d recently taken delivery of a NoPinz skin suit complete with speed pocket to hold my race number in and with Matlock CC only issuing numbers about 5 minutes before the off I decided to ask a cheeky favour and get my number early, thankfully they obliged and handed over number 5. In the carpark I managed to fit my number in and then wriggle into my suit, bike ready, Garmin calibrated and off I went to start getting warmed up.
I hadn’t realised but tonight was an interclub event, between Matlock and Derby Mercury so the total number signed on was an impressive 27, one of those was Adam Kenway who I have massive respect for, Adam is a fast time trialler but even better going uphill, barring a mechanical he was nailed on for the win, so that left 26 of fighting for 2nd place. My new skin suit felt great, no flappy seams, it was a like a second skin and there would be no additional drag from a badly pinned on number as my number 5 was tucked nicely into my suit. With my caffeine gel consumed and liquid on board it was my turn to get into position.
As seems to be the case this year the wind was again strong, difficult to read where it was coming from but surely not a night for super quick times?. I had my own agenda last night, time personal best (PB) and power PB, given how hard I’ve been training both should be possible but also the main goal as ever was to finish high up in the results.
I felt confident on the line and with that familiar 5,4,3,2,1 I was off down the first section of bumpy tarmac. No matter where you go on this section it’s bumpy, not ideal when you want to get into a nice rhythm, then it’s a fast swing around the corner, up off the aero bars to cross the train tracks and up the short but very unwelcome climb to join the A6. In search of an average power PB (275W to beat) I consciously pushed hard, problem was I’d gone a bit too hard and as my heart rate (HR) soared north of 175 BPM I was a little concerned. The last thing you want to do is “blow your wod” (© Dan Barnett) at the start but I was in danger of doing this, the lack of racing clearly showing. I believe that as well as physically I am improving mentally, those Justyn Cannon turbo sessions do help to focus your mind so even though my HR was high I just battled on and concentrated on managing the effort to bring it down a few beats as I pedalled hard towards Bakewell.
The out leg
As mentioned the wind was making it tough, not quite a full headwind but enough to make it feel that way, when you’re trying to average about 27mph it’s pretty annoying looking at the speed and seeing 19mph, it makes you want to increase the watts to a level you really don’t want to. Given my HR was so high already, I didn’t have much wiggle room to push but I knew the return leg would be easier so I just gritted my teeth and focused on the riders who had started ahead of me. One of those riders was on a penny farthing, it’s a bizarre sight, easy to lose concentration but I was focused on my job and I blasted past him as Bakewell approached. Always a bit nervous as you reach the turn, you hope that the lights of the pedestrian crossing are on green (they were) and that you don’t get hindered by traffic on the roundabout (I didn’t, well not by traffic anyway, two gentleman had to stop in their tracks but no bother) and then it’s the return for home.
Strava stats to the turn
Turn and Burn
My average power had steadily dropped from well over 300W to around 275W at the turn, my pacing had been erratic meaning I couldn’t really push as I’d like so having backed off very very slightly to what I’d normally do my HR had come back down a bit, problem was as I pushed on the pedals around the lumpy section of road my HR was back up to the red line again. Not much you can do really other than test your limits so that’s what I did. Time wise I knew I was going ok, but concerned I could blow up with the slightest over exertion it left me on somewhat of a knife edge. Thankfully there is a nice section which is slightly downhill ( a reward for going uphill on the outleg) and a chance to get the speed up, I was hitting over 30mph on this part as I plunged my way back down into Rowsley.
The traffic had been pretty light on the return leg and any cars that did pass were unusually polite meaning I’d not got much assistance from them, really shouldn’t complain at that! With 1.5 miles to go the time looked good, the power was equal to what I’d done previously and as I approached the final corner and run for home I just thought to myself, this is it, hammer time.
Last night and previous PB comparison
My brain was saying full gas, my legs weren’t quite playing ball, it was here when I really wanted to push but that exuberant start was now giving me payback. I was still able to push, but the power wasn’t quite there, 0.7 miles suddenly feeling a long way away. To counteract the lack of power I focused on staying aero and keeping my form to the line, my goal time for this course is 22:30, the clock ticked past that but a PB was going to be achieved and as I crossed the line the Garmin said 22:49, a 28 second improvement. Even though I’d set a personal best I honestly wasn’t happy, my pacing was terrible and I’d not finished as strongly as I wanted to. It’s easy to be self-critical, I think every time trialler is, could I have done better, could I have pushed a bit more? The answer is usually yes but that’s the beauty of it, there’s always another chance to improve.
Having done a short recovery spin I made my way to the finish line to start looking at the times, my 22:49 was looking ok, I was currently in 2nd place (Adam was starting last so effectively 3rd). More and more times came in and I’d eventually finish 5th, 6 seconds off 2nd place, and over 1 minute down on Adam who clocked 21:31 so not a bad result in the end. I had a quick chat with Adam afterwards asking him what his PB was for this course, it was quite a bit quicker than he’d done tonight, so conditions playing a part again, I’ll surely beat that 22:30 target on a good day, or maybe if I just pace it a bit better.
As you can see, last night I was massively ahead at the turn but lost time coming back compared to my previous effort
Probably something to do with this (top = last night, bottom = previous)
Results & Summary
Pretty close at the top with only a few seconds separating 5th and 2nd spots. Overall a good nights racing, well organised by Matlock CC, well done to everyone. Next on the agenda is an FTP test on Friday and then hopefully a place on the V718 on Wednesday where I’ll be looking to lower my PB from 21:07 to a mid 20….
Thanks for reading.