Tour of Longstone Edge
Last night was the 2nd running of our Sporting Course (SpoCo) Open event at Longstone Edge, it’s a pretty tough course over nearly 18 miles. The first 8.5 miles are very tough, the down hills only allowing for momentary respite before you start climbing again. Last year I did this on my standard road bike, last night I was on the full TT setup so while I know this is the faster option, climbing on a TT bike is not something that comes natural. When you have to come out of the aero position due to the gradient everything just feels awkward, so not only are you battling the terrain, at times it feels you’re battling the bike. The only solace you can take is that when those first 8.5 miles are over you have some amazing descents to recover before hammering it full gas on the rolling sections toward the finish.
The race profile
Yet again the last couple of weeks have been hit and miss, I’ve completely fallen out of love with the turbo trainer and have been carrying a slight stomach bug, so training has been compromised.
Don’t pay too much attention to the mileage, most of what I do is on the turbo.
One of my goals for the remainder of this year and certainly into next is to improve mentally and not allow myself to get derailed so easily. I was home in good time, with the car loaded up and the super tasty beetroot shot consumed…. I headed over to Hassop. I will say at this point that part of me hates racing midweek as it invariably means I do not see my little boy, I guess the only thing I can do is give every ounce of effort to make sure I half justify not seeing him.
Arriving at the HQ I spot a few familiar faces, the rallying cry to get the marshals has been effective, a massive thanks to all those that gave up their time on what was a cool summer evening.
Unbeknown to me the marshals had a competition of their own, predicting the time of the fastest Bolsover rider, barring incident this was likely to be me! I’d set a goal on Strava of 49m 30s, this was quite a leap from last year’s 53:30 but no point aiming low. I wasn’t sure what people had other than Simon Travell had me down for 49:20, Craig obviously more confident having me down for 48 something or other. I think he told me the exact time but due to the fact my ears are blocked I’m struggling to hear things too well!
Having the HQ 4 miles from the start might normally be a hassle but for this event it’s perfect, you can use the ride to the start as a warm up, so having kitted up, my number safely stored in my www.nopinz.co.uk speed pocket I finished my prep with my caffeine gel. Having chatted with Dan Barnett this week it seems I have somewhat miscalculated how many mg’s of caffeine I can consume, in reality I’d need about 7 gels, but tonight I decided to go with two.
On arrival near the start I managed to have a quick chat with Mark Hayward who was doing this event for the first time, it’s really encouraging to see new riders taking part, hopefully more will follow his lead. We spoke about the terrain and potential times, Mark was focusing on getting under the hour, I was focusing on getting under 50 minutes, good news was to follow on both of those, more on that later. On a side note I think Mark made it to the start with literally 10 seconds to spare, it’s crazy how time gets away from you, but thankfully no harm done!
I had a strategy for the first 8.5 miles, I’d aim to ride to something around my functional threshold power (FTP), but anything between 270 and 300 watts would be ok. I arrived a little earlier to the start so managed a little chat with Zoe and Sonia before taking my place at the start line. With Malc www.castlecycles.co.uk Smith on the stop watch and Craig www.devonshirebuildingservices.co.uk Devonshire on bike holding duties it was time to go, 5,4,3,2, 1 and I’m off up the road.
Sonya and Zoe
One change I’d made this week was to cut down the amount of information my Garmin was showing me. I’m convinced this has been putting me off in normal TT’s so tonight I had 10s power, average power, distance and current speed. The first 3 metrics pretty key, speed only really there to tell me how fast I’m going downhill! Metrics removed were Heart rate (not even wearing the strap) Cadence, elapsed time and 3s power, so a nice uncluttered screen.
The start looks simple, a nice long drag, but as you start pedaling it feels tough, the speed differential from a normal TT is quite noticeable, but as mentioned, get these first 8.5 miles done and then things change. I’d got Ben www.veloviewer.com Lowe as my minute man, I’d be surprised if I saw him as I know he’s pretty quick, behind me was a Sheff Rec rider, Paul Armstrong who I was less familiar with. The first 2.1 miles (4% average, 421ft elevation) were covered in just under 8 minutes, average speed 16.1 mph but more importantly at 297W, so nicely on target.
With those 2 miles out the way, there is a downhill section before the tougher section at Litton. The headwind kind of killed the downhill, I had to keep pedalling to maintain speed. Turning onto the Litton section, the wind again was a cross head, then full on headwind, I hate this climb. I did it twice last year, one in the race and one in the recce, on the TT bike it was awful. Looking below I’d gone better than last year, even on the TT bike.
As I neared the top of the climb there was a photographer taking pics, this man must be evil as by now most riders would be blowing out their backsides!! It was at this point I looked over my shoulder, about 30s behind me was the Sheff Rec rider so he was obviously going well and gaining time. Finally over the crest I tried to get my speed back up, this took a big effort (I remembered Charlie at home and used missing him to motivate my legs) but the descent was a good one. As I neared the corner a guy in a Clio pulled out, no problem, but my closing speed meant I was going to catch him, thankfully he slowed a bit more and I scooted around the outside and plunged down into Millers Dale.
The next descent was going well, apart from when I came round the corner to find a Ford Focus length ways on blocking the road. I braked a little, then a lot, as I got there I had enough room to squeeze through and head for the next climb. Hollow O’the Moor as it’s called on Strava https://www.strava.com/segments/904346?filter=overall is tough, tougher still by being on the TT bike, tougher still after the effort already expended. Half way up the climb I was caught by Paul Armstong, he also came by pretty quickly, I think it’s fair to say I was having a bad patch but he was climbing very well so it compounded things a little. I went up the climb in 8m:15s putting out 294W, Paul did 7:30, the winner on the night Darryl Wall, 7:11 for 312W. So annoyingly some huge time gaps there.
Hollow O’the Moor rider snapshot
The first 8.5 miles
Scream if you wanna go faster……..
Finally after all that slogging uphill we now had the descent of the A6, for the next 2 miles I’d average over 40mph, touching nearly 49mph in parts. My Speedmax feels incredible at this speed, I have real confidence that it will do what I ask it to.
With my weight moved back on the saddle and the bars gripped a little tighter I finally managed to get some life back into my legs. At this point I could see Ben Lowe up ahead, he’d descended well but now it was TT bike territory, payback.
As I passed Ben on the flat section the speed differential was quite remarkable, finally the TT bike was coming into its own. I tried to maintain speed as I spotted the turn (superbly marshalled) up ahead, as I swung left, big Vern Richardson was up ahead marshalling the Monsal junction as I ploughed on. After a long downhill and then flat section it was back to the climbing, not quite as severe but with tiring legs anything remotely skyward felt tough. Another rider appeared in front of me and so did a car who was nervous about passing him, a couple of seconds lost maybe (I’m sure others lost time elsewhere too) but with him dispatched I focused again and headed toward the roundabout near the HQ.
On my approach I spotted a large AA lorry coming from the opposite direction, although we had lots of marshals I had to back off, I didn’t know which way he was going. Happily for me it was straight on so as I swung left roared on by my adoring fans I dug in for the run for home. At this point my calf (the other calf this time) had other ideas, was it cramp or a pull I didn’t know, what I did know was that it wasn’t going to stop me. I pedalled a bit more before taking a couple of seconds to stretch it out, that seemed to do the trick and with the rider who passed me earlier still in my line of sight I just gave it my all. The last 0.5 miles were a real grind, after a brief section of 3% it was then the final little uphill kicker over the finish line. At this point I again thought of Charlie (I’m so dramatic), and with only 30 metres or so to go I just gave it everything as I crossed the line.
Results and Summary
As mentioned earlier I had removed lap time from my Garmin so I actually had no idea of my time, but as I hit the lap button, 48:36 flashed up, that’ll do. I’d set my target as 49:30 so to beat that by a minute and beat last years’ time by 5 minutes was pretty pleasing. I’d also set a target of being in the top 20, I came in 15th. I’m not happy with 15th but it is what it is, 47:07 was good enough for top 10, I’d be happy with that so something to work on for next year. I wonder if a lighter TT bike might help with that….
Having got changed it gave me a chance to have a chat with a few riders, club mates, marshals and more importantly get something to eat! Looking down at the results there were some good battles, I was pleased to see Mark beat his 60 minute target with 57:31. The battle of the B&DCC ladies was pretty close, Zoe on full TT setup holding off Sonia on her road bike by just over a minute, well done ladies. The men’s winner was Darryl Wall in 43:36, looking at the race comparison, he’d put nearly 4 minutes into me after 8.5 miles, a super strong rider. Ladies winner was Alex Deck with 50:49, 2nd place Zoe Hibbard, well done to both. Darren Billings took the team hoody prize for guessing the closest to my time.
With the temperature dropping and the prizes given out I decided to head home, stopping off in Matlock for some chips and gravy, I think I earned them. Next race, the 2UP TT at Cuckney on Wednesday!