Apart from a couple of hill climbs in October, Saturday saw me compete in my final time trial of the season, a 25 mile TT organised by the Stone Wheelers Cycling Club. Whilst 6 miles of the course contained the fabled “Concrete Mountain”, being that it was run on a Dual Carriageway (DC) it’s known as a fast course so I was looking to beat the 54:52 I had done last month on a different course. The factors that I could control, mainly my own legs, were looking good, consistent training and generally feeling really good about putting in a solid season finale performance. The factors that I couldn’t control, mainly the weather however were not looking so promising!
That was the scene about 3 hours before my start time of 15:07 but although the wind would not be helping on the way home the rain was forecast to clear, fingers crossed anyway. Alongside the other time triallers would be two of my club mates, Simon Travell and Bill Seddon, race day is always better when you have your team mates alongside, it also helped they we were starting only a few minutes apart, me first, then Bill then Simon. Both guys had been going well recently so the healthy competition would surely push us all on, you’d hope so anyway.
With no dramas getting to the HQ and no issues getting ready, I met up with the other two before we thought about getting warmed up. Thankfully the rain had passed and in fact the temperature was probably in the 20s, so after some ribbing by Bill about how many watts I could save by various alterations to my bike we basically just waffled on about nothing in particular before mounting up and heading around the mean streets of Blythe Bridge. The only concern I did have was my back brake jamming on, reassured by Simon his did the same and Bill saying I wouldn’t turn the bars enough for it to happen my nerves were settled and off we went.
The route we took wasn’t ideal, let’s just say it was rolling terrain and before we knew it we were back at HQ, stripping off and heading for the start area. I was up first so with about 4 minutes to go I rocked up at the line. Something I had not seen before was the digital clock, a nice touch, certainly makes things easier.
I watched the clock count down, the numbers backed up by the starter and then 5,4,3,2,1 and off I went. Given that it was 25 miles and not 10, it’s imperative you don’t go into the red zone too earlier so I set off conservatively until I joined the DC. The course as mentioned stays on the DC for 14 miles, with only a couple of roundabouts to negotiate before the turn it’s all about measuring the effort, all the time remembering that the 11 miles home is much harder. My race plan was to aim for a 30mph average to the turn, then just do my best coming back. As I hurtled along the DC I was averaging in excess of 30mph, I didn’t worry I was going too fast as a look at my average power showed I was within my limits. The issue if any was not having a big enough gear to go fast enough, so when my legs were spinning too fast I just took a micro rest and stayed aero. I hit the turn at 30.7mph, elapsed time 27:24.
To the turn
Having averaged 246W at my previous 25 mile TT, I figured I’d manage in excess of 250W this time, so looking at the power to the turn I had paced it quite well, slightly faster than planned but not by using more power. I remember feeling pretty good, I also remember how good the marshalling had been and how clear the signs were, always a massive help (to me). Looking at our times, Bill and I were pretty close, Simon a bit behind at this point having been held up at two roundabouts. (Simon would say afterwards he didn’t push hard enough).
So having dealt with the out leg it was time to begin the teeth gritting in readiness for the concrete mountain (CM) and the headwind. The CM is the last 6.2 miles of the course so I’d have about 5 miles before I hit that and I was going well. I’d again taken a bottle with me, the quick sips at opportune points had been welcome so as I kept aero I managed to reel in one of the other riders.
At around 18 miles I approached a roundabout, having been utterly impressed with the marshalling and signage so far, for this one I could see nothing. So I figured “no signs = straight on”, almost immediately as I went straight on I knew I’d gone wrong, (insert expletive). I sat up and looked over my shoulder so see if I could see the rider I’d just past coming up behind, nothing, still nothing but then I saw him, he’d turned right, I hadn’t. So with a deep breath and no thought other than to get back on track I spun around and got back on the course.
As I got going again, rider number 70 came around the roundabout just in front of me, anyone starting off an “0” is quick, I was rider number 67 so technically he’d gained 3 minutes on me, analysis would show that I lost at least one minute with my detour but still if he’d gained 2 minutes on me, he’d be beating me comfortably anyway. But he gave me a focus as I got aero and pedaled hard.
After about a short while I re-passed rider number 63 (??) again as we battled our way up the Concrete Mountain. It’s not a huge incline, but it’s long and having been going anywhere between 30 and 38mph on the out leg, doing 24mph feels slow, very slow.
Half way up I began to lose a bit of focus and fidgeted around a bit, my nether regions felt like they had swelled up (not like that) and didn’t feel planted on the saddle, but I eventually regained my composure and kept the wheels turning in pursuit of a decent time.
Concrete Mountain segment
Given that I am a good few kilo’s lighter than the other two I should have been looking to gain more time up the concrete mountain, as you can see from the respective power outputs Simon worked the hardest, Bill was obviously more aero but my lack of ballast certainly helped.
The last few miles were tough, mentally you just want it to be over, the headwind and slight incline is killing the speed but I hung on in there with the thought of when I had would hit the “empty the tanks button”.
Miles 21-23 I managed an average power 260W, mile 24 I was fading but still put out 252W, the final mile I managed to hit 259W, would have been nice to have more left, maybe the extra 0.4 miles I had done put paid to a faster finish but finish I did. As I went over the line I hit the stop button “55:12”, so outside my Rockingham time which was disappointing, well it was until I realised I had to factor in the lost time.
My target for the day was to break 54 minutes, the headwind home may have meant that was a bit of a stretch but looking at it now, if I take a minute off that gives me 54:12, in reality it would have been fractionally more than a minute given the lost momentum as well. But that was my fault the time of 55:12 was what I had done.
Having got changed I nipped in to the HQ for some cake, a fantastic spread it was too. Garmin time matched official time, 55:12 so I went back out to meet the other two. Bill asked how I’d done, after venting my frustration about the navigational mishap, “55:12” I replied. Bill suggested I had beaten him, Simon said I had beaten him too, it raised my spirits a bit, but I’d wanted that 53!!!
We all trudged back into the HQ to look at the scoreboard, 55:12 for me, 55:20 for Bill, 56:23 for Simon. Decent efforts all around, at this point we are still waiting for the results sheet to come through so we don’t know where we came overall, I’ll update that later.
So there it is, my final TT of the season, let the winter training begin! I’ll add a season review in the next week or so, for now I’d draw your attention to a new blog I’ve created that will detail all our club activity: Bolsover TT Page
Thanks as always for reading.