On Saturday I raced on the fast A25/11 course at Etwall, the last time I raced there I took a wrong turn and had to classify myself as a DNF (Did not finish) so I had been looking forward to it when I first entered. In between that time I’ve been struggling a bit with colds, coughs and a stomach bug thrown in for good measure, so much so that a week prior to the race I contacted the organiser to say I wasn’t fit to race and to put me down as a DNS (did not start). But as last week progressed I did start to improve, admittedly the journey to work does (and still does) involve depositing large amount of luminous green phlegm onto the M1 but having had over a week off the bike, last week I managed to get in a few easier sessions so thought what the hell I’ll still race.
Unless you are an elite athlete who can somehow get lucky by finding that previous form then it’s pretty much impossible to rock up on the start line and put in a great performance if you’ve missed the amount of training I have whilst still not feeling 100%, for a 10 mile event you might be able to hang on and salvage something, for a 25 I knew it’d be a struggle. But with the weather looking good my plan was to do the race, complete the course and at the very least it would be a good hours training for one of my key target races coming up this week up in Hull. Naturally as I got kitted up my confidence began to grow, those missed sessions and my constant coughing weren’t going to stop me doing my best.
After enduring Chris Ledger’s concern about my skinny white legs again I went out on a bit of shakedown on the bike, this was my first time on the road with my new saddle, happy to report that all was well and I returned back to the car to chill out before commencing my warm up proper. In between this I’d gotten some more constructive feedback from Dan and Bill about potential watt savings I could make to my bike, so pretty soon the hacksaw will be coming out, thankfully for my bikes sake it won’t be in my hands.
Chris “Brown Legs” Ledger
As seems the norm, the car park was full of Team Bottrill riders, Dan, Elliot, Bill to name a few, we really do seem to be taking over this year and with 30 minutes to go I started my warm up pulling up to the start line with about 3 minutes to go. Before my warm up I’d quickly googled the average speed needed to do 25 miles in 54 minutes (my target for the day), 27.7mph it said so that would be what I was focusing my effort on, keeping that average speed north of 27.7mph.
My target for this course is 51:59, but I’m way off that at the moment, potentially it’s there if I can avoid illness for 3 months, the weather is kind and the hacksaw has worked but on Saturday my ambitions were quite rightly a bit lower.
At 3:33pm off I went, swinging round to the left and up to speed quickly in search of a half decent time, well actually I was in search of the roundabout with Mcdonalds on it, or more commonly known as “the turn”, the turn signalling that you are now on the run for home. The course while undoubtedly quick is not easy IMO, there are many uphill (not steep) drags that require efforts above your average power and that was exactly what I didn’t need with my current lack of fitness, race pace I didn’t feel too bad, but anytime I had to push over that it was hard to recover, so much so that my average heart rate for the race was a lot higher than it would normally have been.
All pictures courtesy of Brian Hall
Neil Parkin – great PB from him on the day
There are quite a few roundabouts on the course, at every one I seemed to be in the wrong place so I felt I was losing time, but no matter I just kept pushing on, until I approached the roundabout with Mcdonalds on it, a seemingly mythical place that I had never believed existed! What no-one had told me was that there was also a pedestrian crossing on it with traffic lights! Typically as I approached it was on red as a McDonalds worker made his way across the road, I came to a complete stop. It then went “green for go” as my little boy would say, so I encircled the roundabout to go back where I had come from, only problem, the same McDonalds worker now needed to cross the other side to get to work! So we were now on “Red for stop”, again I came to a halt. It was frustrating but I was kind of relieved that navigationally at least I was on track.
The average speed was hovering around 27mph so I really had to buckle down if I was to achieve today’s goal, I had it in my head that the return leg would be quicker so I was confident I could achieve my objective of breaking 54 minutes. Problem was my head was ok, my legs and lungs not so much, on the way back I was really struggling in some parts, but these were interspersed with sections of 30mph+ which kept my mind on the job. As the miles ticked down finally it was time for the last mile and all you can do is empty the tanks which I felt I did, as I crossed the line I hit stop, 54:30 flashed up, which was a bit annoying.
Something to consider in the future is that decimal places count! 27.78mph is required for 54:00, 27.51mph would be a 54:32, I probably should have aimed for 28mph, but to be honest I’m not sure it would have mattered, today was not going to be the day.
Official time was 54:31 which was actually a PB by 21 seconds, I’d also done a power PB by 3 watts but on a good day I’d expect a power PB of 15-20 watts. Normally a time PB would be satisfactory but my PB would have been fifty three fifty something if I’d not gone wrong last year on the J5/8 Stone Wheelers event, but officially it would now be a PB way off what I know I can do if fully fit. It’s hard to know how much time I lost at Mcdonalds, 20 seconds maybe so that’s some free time for the next outing on this course.
Back to HQ, just….
As I finished my race, it was time to return to HQ, I think it’s about 1.5 miles, those 1.5 miles were horrendous, my cough that had stopped for 54 minutes had now returned, this time it was determined to try and deposit my lungs on the pavement, but in amongst the wretching I found myself back at the car. I changed out my snot covered skin suit and went to hand my number in, I overhead Bill say he’d done a PB, 52 something or other, a superb effort from him and as I scanned down the leaderboard the rest of the Team had also put in some great performances too.
PB’s galore it seemed, whilst I had done a PB I wasn’t in celebratory mood, all I could think of was why hadn’t I bought any recovery food and drink with me! So off to the garage I went for a chocolate milkshake and a mars bar then made my way home in the glorious May sunshine with my mind firmly focused on Wednesday evening and the 10 miles of the V718 course in Hull.
To finish off though, happy to have completed the course, happy to have got a good hours training in, happy to have been able to ride the day after, just need to get healthy and back to my best form.
Next stop Hull…..