Waking up with a bad shoulder and dodgy stomach was not ideal preparation for the days racing but I felt I could deal with that, the concern as always when you’re racing at Hatfield Woodhouse is the weather. It’s as if it has its own micro climate, pretty much guaranteed to have a gale blowing, usually accompanied by rain showers and when you throw in the dodgy sections of road known as the rumble strip you do question why it’s chosen as a TT venue. However, with the days chores dealt with I loaded up the team car and headed up the M1, it felt warm, very warm.
On arrival at Hatfield I spotted a few of my club mates, Mandy, Mike and Dave, the theme of the conversation was basically had we all come to the wrong place, there was a hardly a breath of wind and the mercury must have been heading towards 30 degrees. If I’m honest I’d much prefer this than it being cold, windy and wet, it makes race preparations a lot easier. Warming up wouldn’t be the challenge today, it’d be trying to keep cool. After signing on I figured rather than delay the inevitable I’d get my skin suit on and have a short spin to make sure my bike was in good working order, no reason to think it wasn’t but it’s something I always like to do. As I walked back to the car in my long sleeved, black skin suit I could now appreciate how food feels in a microwave, next step, over shoes. There was no way I could face putting these on outside so I went back into the HQ and pulled on my velotoze. With a squirt of water over my slowly cooking head I put my helmet on and set off for a quick spin.
Alex Deck (picture by Brian Hall)
Out on the road I instantly knew something wasn’t right, I felt like I was sliding off the aero bars, clearly they’d dropped so would need fixing, simple job but not something you really want to be doing 35 minutes before you’re due to start. I’d not brought any tools but Dave Johnson had a rummage through Mikes car, 5mm allen key sorted, a quick adjustment and all was well. By this time a few more faces had arrived, Allison Preece, Zoe Hibbard and Xavi all sporting the green black of B&DCC, a good turnout. The general feeling around the car park seemed positive, although picking up, the wind wouldn’t be much of a factor and thankfully the forecasted rain showers were nowhere in sight. Apart from pushing yourself to the limit for 10 miles the only other consideration would be the heat, same for everyone though.
With 25 minutes to go I decided to commence my warmup, part of that on the bike, part of it getting myself mentally ready for the effort that was to come. The mental side includes various mantras and reassurances I now use to motivate myself, I don’t think the world is quite ready to hear those yet. This would be my 2nd 10 mile TT of the season here, the first was my first race on a full TT setup where I recorded a time of 24:07 in far from ideal conditions. If I didn’t beat that time today I’d be leaving my bike there and taking up marshalling full time…. As I approached the start line, I was there a little too early, feeling a bit like Lewis Hamilton feels when he’s on pole, sitting there, cooking from the inside out. I was going to take my helmet off, but figured I’d just cook a bit more and then before I knew it I was being held in place by the starter and the thirty second countdown had begun.
My race plan was to produce around 280W to the turn (approx. 11mins), a little harder than I’d done before on any TT, for a recent test on the turbo I held 295W for 20 minutes, but the aim for today would be slightly less and then give it my all for the return leg. With that now familiar 5,4,3,2, and 1, my race began. After a momentary push out of the saddle I dropped into my best aero position and focused on the job in hand. Glancing down at my power it was north of 300W, it was at this point I remembered countless things I’ve read about starting too quick.
Naturally at the start you feel good so pushing 300,325,350W or whatever is going to feel pretty easy, it’s further down the road that your legs, lungs, eyeballs, teeth, hands, shoulders etc won’t be thanking you for it, so I quickly tried to settle down to nearer my race pace. Looking at the analysis of my race afterwards the first 3 miles went as follows.
Mile 1 (standing start): 304W / 25.4mph
Mile 2: 286W / 27.5mph
Mile 3: 278W / 26.7mph
The net result of the above was that I hit the turn having produced an average of 280W, bang on what I’d aimed for. During the race I actually felt I’d eased up a little too much going around the turn, (a turn that was superbly marshalled by the hosts Rutland CC), however looking at Strava I actually produced my quickest time, maybe I was smoother and of course there was no cramp to deal with this time, so now it was the run for home.
Even though I knew it was hot I hadn’t felt it much on the way out, it certainly wasn’t an issue anyway, but as I got back into my stride on the way home I started to feel the effects. My average power was dropping, I was also struggling to find a cadence that I felt comfortable with. As mentioned earlier the surface on a couple of sections is really bumpy and rutted, picking your line can be quite tricky, I figured to counteract this I would adopt a slower cadence (no idea why, hadn’t crossed my mind at the start). I don’t display cadence on my Garmin anymore I did it all on feel but I felt it was going ok.
As the miles ticked down I had enough focus to repeat some of those mental routines I’d gone through earlier and apart from a bit of a bad patch, mentally if not physically around 7.5 miles I just battered myself into the ground aiming to put in the best time possible. Glancing down at the distance covered the end was in sight, I just gave it my all, I perhaps didn’t have quite as much as I’d liked in the tank so focused on holding the best position I could as I started to tire. With the chequered board approaching I stomped harder on the pedals and crossed the line, on hitting my Garmin, it said 22:16, instant relief.
Rolling in my (Speedmax) 8.0
After crossing the line I felt pretty awful, a good sign that I’d done what I could today, my mouth was completely dry, barely able to spit I figured a little cool down was in order. I quickly abandoned this idea and hurried back to my car to get a drink. Protein shake gulped down, I felt my body begin to return to something approaching normal. After a quick chat with the B&DCC crew I felt like someone had hit the reheat button on the microwave, time to get changed. Before I did that though I asked Mike how he’d done, probably due to fatigue I can’t remember the response, I also didn’t have a clue what Xavi was talking about when he rolled in (that wasn’t necessarily down to exhaustion though), the main objective now was getting changed so that’s what I did.
After getting changed I scoffed my own body weight in flapjacks, in fact the spread was pretty good all-round from the hosts Rutland Cycling Club, so chapeau to them, in fact chapeau all round to them for a very well run event. Looming large in the corner was the scoreboard, how had I done? There were still quite a few rider times to come in so I just looked for Mike and Xavi’s times instead.
My official time was 22:18, now admittedly Mike is not having the greatest of seasons but having put a minute and 9 seconds into me here last time I was pleased to have levelled the score at 1-1 pipping him by 5 seconds. Xavi had beaten me by 1m 44s last time out, this time he’d had a bit of stomach trouble (aah that’s what he said) and only beat me by 25 seconds but I’ll take whatever improvement I can!
Looking at the overall, Conor Swift won in a time of 20:23, that’s 1 minute 55s quicker than me, last time out Dan Barnett won in 21:18 which was 2 minutes 49s better than I did so my gap to the leader was also significantly reduced. I was unable to stick around too long after the event but I know all the B&DCC crew had raced as hard as they could, it turned out to be a really good event. Overall position for myself was 15th out of 75.
In summary, pleased with the time and overall performance, felt like I left a couple of seconds out there but that was all I could do today. I’m happy to have put down a 22:18 marker at Hatfield for next year, sub 22 will be the first aim.
Next race, back to the V718 on the 5th September.