After a pleasing time at Matlock two weeks ago, the end of that week was geared towards a new Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test to look at resetting my power zones for the next block of training. In hindsight doing this test on a Friday evening was not the greatest planning by me, throw in the heat and sadly I found myself aborting the 20 minute test after 13 minutes as I just couldn’t sustain the power I was aiming for. I wasn’t too downhearted, I know I’ve progressed, my times are showing that but on this occasion I wasn’t able to confirm it by means of a structured test.
Over the weekend I did a bit of riding on my road bike whilst looking forward to some much needed annual leave last week. Next on the agenda for me was our own club time trial at Cuckney, however instead of the normal 10 miles, this would be over 18 miles. Having travelled back from Whitby on the Tuesday, I managed to get a quick spin on the road bike, nothing too stressful, more just to get the 400 odd miles of driving out my legs, mission accomplished.
Wednesday I had some time to myself watching the Tour de France and then without the commute home to worry about I set off and arrived at Cuckney in good time. On arrival I spotted a few familiar faces, Simon Travell, Zoe Hibbard from B&DCC and then a couple of the Mapperley riders, Dave Ellis and Ian Guilor. I wasn’t sure who else was riding but I knew those two guys would take some beating. After getting signed on and kitted up, I headed up the road with Si for a warm up. My legs felt pretty good, thankfully all that driving over the last few days wasn’t affecting me and I felt confident of doing a good time.
The normal Cuckney 10 course was the first 10 miles, the next 8 miles took you out to Budby, then back down towards Carburton, along Lime tree avenue and then back around to finish towards the rear of the Greendale Oak in Cuckney. Being an Edwinstowe boy I’d have no issues with navigation meaning I could just focus on riding as fast as I could.
My race strategy was like this, go my normal Cuckney 10 pace but hold a bit back on the hill near the turn, hold a bit more back at the normal club 10 finish, recover down the hill towards the left hand bend at the Greendale Oak, keep things in check on the lumpy stuff towards Welbeck pit, get my breath back towards Budby, hammer it up the hill, recover a bit on the downhill towards the turn on to Lime tree Avenue and then push as hard as possible for the remaining 2 miles to the finish. With me? Ok let’s go….
I’d be off number 8, si was number 5, Zoe number 4, I wasn’t sure what numbers Ellis and Guilor were, I just hoped they wouldn’t be coming past me at any point! After seeing Zoe and then Simon shoot off from the line, I joined the queue and got ready. Given the temperature and extra distance I decided to take a drink with me so rather than being dry mouthed at the start I felt pretty good, with Craig holding me in positon and David Clay counting down, it was soon 5,4,3,2 and then 1 as I set off along the downhill section.
I got my bike up to speed pretty quickly, the stats would show I was 1s off my best time for the first mile so that was a good start considering the extra 8 miles on the menu. I felt strong as I flew past the marshals, and got settled in for the long run to the first turn. As mentioned the plan was to push at normal 10 pace and that’s pretty much what I did. For the 4.8 mile section from Cuckney to the turn I produced 270W, 4W more than the night I set my 10 course PB, meaning I was 8s quicker in the process, despite the failed test last week (FTP not Drug), the clock doesn’t lie, I’m getting quicker.
On the ramp up towards the turn I even held a little back and on the turn itself I slowed momentarily to have a drink, something I’d never do on a normal 10 mile race, but I figured this would be the best time to do it, so I did. Going back down the slope I really focused on my positon on the bike and buckled down to some work. I think it’s fair to say that the conditions were better than when I set my PB time for the 10 but having kept myself aero I found that my normal bad spot around 8 to 8.5 miles didn’t materialise, this despite knowing I was going at least as quick so clearly not holding anything back.
As I crossed the 10 mile finish point I glanced at the elapsed time, I’d actually just set a course PB, this was a surprise given that I’d not gone as hard as I could, encouraging stuff. Whilst not exact, the Strava comparison showed the 5 more watts I’d produced equated to 12 seconds gained, I’m pretty sure I could have gone another 10 seconds quicker, I’ll hopefully prove that on another night.
Having taken a quick swig from my bottle as I crossed the line, I refocused my effort and maximised my speed to the turn. Just before the turned I passed Zoe, no time for the obligatory cyclists wave, I just pressed on. I came around the corner a little too quick, just about stayed on my side of the road and kept in position around the hairpin outside the Greendale Oak. The next section was going to be tough, lots of uphill so getting my gearing right was going to be crucial. I’m always a little nervous of spinning my legs up too fast as that’s when I can get cramp, but I think I judged it well enough, although pushing 500W on some sections might not have been the wisest move.
With the hilly bit dealt with, I brought the speed up to over 35mph at some points as I headed toward the tight double roundabout at Budby. With the reassuring sight of some marshals I just knocked off the speed, took another swig of water and then settled in for the long drag up the hill towards Carburton. The stats for this 0.6 mile section can be seen below, I purposely pushed harder than what I was averaging at that point, balancing it between on the limit but not over it. I knew I could go harder here as I’d be able to recover down the hill, looking back I could have probably gone a bit harder than I did.
Uphill after Budby
Lime tree Turn
After cresting the hill, I took my final drink and then swung around the corner on to Lime Tree avenue and the run for home. I really struggled here, the road surface was pretty bad and I was being bumped all over the place meaning I couldn’t hold any consistent power, at this point I’d been averaging around 265-270 watts, for this section I could only average 247 watts. Maybe I was tiring but mentally it was hard to focus as I searched for some flat tarmac, the low sun also affecting things (oooh low sun I must add that to my excuses book!), but anyway I just pushed as hard as I could. As I rounded the final turn I could see Malc, Craig, the marshals and timekeepers as I buried myself to the line. I clicked stop on the Garmin, allowed myself a minute or two to recover and then came back to the finish to found out how I’d done.
Lime Tree Section
Results and final analysis
The signs were looking good, so far I was winning, I was pretty sure that wouldn’t last though as Ellis and Guilor were out on course. Si congratulated me on a good time, 42 minutes and 4 seconds for me, 44:21 for him. It was at this point I began to get a little eager, with the blood flow still not fully restored to my brain I allowed Craig to get me a little excited, that sounds wrong, what I meant was that he thought I was actually beating Ian Guilor, that would be pretty pleasing. However I then thought this would be highly unlikely and sure enough Craig then double checked and despite Ian not having finished yet he’d still be quicker than me. Ian finished in 2nd place with a time of 40:21, 1:44 in front of me, Dave Ellis took top spot breaking 40 minutes with a time of 39:43, 2:21 in front of me. Simon would take 4th spot, Zoe making the top 10 coming in 9th in 49:15.
The two guys in front of me normally do a 10 mile time at Cuckney around 20:45 – 21:15, my previous best 22:48 so currently that’s about 115 to 90 seconds quicker than me, I was pretty pleased that I’d kept that in check with an extra 8 miles to do. Actually when I say pleased, that’s not true, my overwhelming thought is to beat these guys next year!
Power wise, I did 253W which meant I averaged 25.6 mph over the 18 mile course, I’m actually itching to get back out on the 10 course again to see what I can do. Looks like I did 22:36 for the 10 on this night, my current goal is 22:22 with a stretch target of 21:59 for the season, the 22:22 is within reach, I’ll have to dig deep in training to get that long 21, to be continued………..