Sheffield Phoenix Club 10 at Cuckney – New PB

The bit before

As mentioned on my last post, whilst racing the 18 mile interclub TT I’d set a course personal best (PB) at Cuckney for 10 miles, on that night I still had another 8 miles to go so it wasn’t quite a full gas effort. Knowing that an official PB was likely next time I raced there I was keen to have another attempt asap. With Matlock cancelled due to road works I decided to head down to Cuckney last night to race in Sheffield Phoenix’s club 10 which is run over the same Cuckney course as we use. With my bike already setup, I loaded the car and got myself down there.

Michael Jackson

As part of my training I am now experimenting with Beetroot shots by a company called Beetit. Essentially one shot the night before race day and one shot 2 hours before. The shots are pretty horrendous, so far I’ve held them down though. They contain Nitric Oxide, not to be confused with Nitrous Oxide and are designed to help blood flow which is obviously key in any endurance event. An interesting article can be found here http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/04/beetroot-juice-good-science-or-great-marketing-hype/ but I think Mark Cavendish describes one of the side effects best, It is of course not harmful, but worth remembering you’ve taken it!

Last night though I think the shot gave me a dodgy gut so god bless the Greendale Oak at Cuckney for allowing me to use their facilities before I raced, further detail not needed, let’s get on with the race.

Pre Race

Having changed in the back of the car, I commenced my warm up. Not sure if it was the dodgy stomach but I felt pretty sluggish, however I just reminded myself that this was probably normal, I’d be fine once I started racing. Although a Sheffield Phoenix production, it was good to have my team mate Dan Farrand in attendance, his ever supportive dad also coming along to watch. Having a familiar face there to have a chat with always helps me to stay relaxed, with my warm up done I headed up to the start line. Things were running a few minutes late, this was a little annoying as you get yourself prepared for your start time, have a drink etc and to then get delayed and start cooling down is never easy, thankfully it was still pretty warm so wasn’t a huge issue. I’d be starting number 14, in front of me with her number 13 upside down was Karen Ledger. Karen is quick, having her to try and catch would surely help my own race.

Showtime

As Karen shot off down the hill into Cuckney I made my way to the line, by now with the caffeine gel kicking in I felt pretty focused on what I needed to do. The weather wasn’t ideal, a cross tail wind out would mean a cross headwind back, estimated wind speed 12-15mph, t-minus 30 seconds to blast off. With a few deep breaths I clipped in, then 5,4,3,2,1 and I was off down the hill. After a few metres I was in position and heading down the road, a bit of spray drifting across from the farmers field (water, not horse shit) I got a bit of cooling on board and pedalled hard.

As my speed exceeded 30mph I was about to pass the 2nd junction in Cuckney. At B&DCC we have marshals on here so you can basically just hammer it full gas without (too) much concern of anyone pulling out on you, no marshalls last night though so when a Suzuki Vitara is sat waiting to exit, the thought of pulling back into the Greendale Oak almost materialises. No bother, he waited, safely through.

With my power exceeding 300W I reigned things in a little and made my way up the road, that sluggishness now gone, time to get down to business. The out leg was going well, my average power looking on target as I began to spot riders up the road. I could tell one was Karen by the light she was using and as she cruised by a different rider I kept pedalling with the aim of doing the same. With that rider dispatched I pushed hard on the out leg in search of a PB.

Strava Segment Comparisons

For the first mile I was a little down on power but only lost 2 seconds, I actually experimented with getting into a semi-tuck position as I began to spin out so speed wise and to save a few watts for later this might be worth sticking with.

On the out leg, for 3 watts less I gained 11 seconds on the time I had produced last week, conditions may have helped, but I distinctly remember keeping as aero as I could whilst chasing down the other riders. I also remained on the extensions all the way up the ramp before the turn. Power wise it’s an odd one, I’ve produced 275W to the turn before, although that didn’t produce the fastest split, conditions play a factor but as a novice I’d imagine my position and keeping in it also helps.

By the turn I’d still not caught Karen, mentally this was playing havoc with my brain. I couldn’t work out if I remained behind her I’d still be quicker or if I’d need to catch her to get the same time!! I think I need more Beetroot juice!! Having got around the turn with no issues, I had two goals, secure a PB and catch Karen. The newly laid surface really hindered my progress, like Lime tree avenue last week I was struggling to get the power down. I’m also noticing that my average heart rate is much higher than it’s been, not sure if this is good or bad. As the miles ticked by I began to catch Karen, this gave me extra motivation. It’d taken me 9 miles to catch her and in doing so I probably went a little too hard when passing her. I suffered for about 200 metres or so but then composed myself and with a PB to nail I absolutely smashed myself to the line, official time 22:25, a 23 second improvement.

The last two miles showed an improvement of 18 seconds, all the more impressive as it was into a headwind. My normal flat spot at 8.5 miles seems to have been banished….

Summary

I can’t help but be critical of my race, there are points where I’m losing concentration and seeing my power drop, I’m sure this will improve with experience, it is after all my first season. One thing I am noticing is that since not looking at my heart rate during the race, it’s higher, I’m going to take this as a good thing. Well Training Peaks keeps telling me I have a new threshold heart rate so who am I to argue!!

So how did I do, 4th overall out of 23.

More training to come and I’ll also be racing again next week. Lumpy course, but a course PB to aim for, hopefully my chain won’t come off this year……..

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