After a disappointing club 10 a couple of weeks ago where I put out my worst ever power, having finally shaken off all the bugs and coughs I’ve managed to put together two solid weeks training and I’m feeling really good, it’s been sometime since I’ve felt this way. I don’t think it’s any coincidence this has come on the back of getting out on the road rather than being stuck in the turbo shed, long may this weather continue. As Dan said, perhaps on that race my legs hadn’t quite caught up with my head in how I was feeling, you can’t miss training and expect to perform.
This week though I have two races, at the weekend I’m back on the O10/3 in Ranby but last night it was the Matlock Cycling Club’s Grouse Open event just down the road from me in Rowsley. I’ve not done the exact course before but having ridden the roads many times (and a few times in the last couple of weeks) course knowledge was not a problem. As ever though things were not quite straight forward……….
The TT bike has been in the shop since Friday where I was looking to get some work done on the bars, I’d also put on a new cassette that decided it wanted to rattle and wobble about (this meant I also missed an Open race at Mapperley a week ago) so I asked the shop to look at that too. Long story short, the modifications I wanted on the bars weren’t possible and when I got the bike back home, despite the cassette now being firmly attached there is an annoying rattle which is making the drive train less than smooth. It’s a distraction you don’t need, there have been a few dark thoughts, mainly about chainsaws and bikes in dustbins, but I figured what the hell I’ll just race tonight so off I went.
Arriving at HQ there were quite few familiar faces, Paddy Gould, Alex Deck, Matt Ingram and it was also good to meet Eric Grill who I “knew” from the Time Trialling Forum. Conditions were pretty much perfect, warm and no wind, not sure about the air pressure but Matt Sinclair had commented on Twitter earlier this might stop his attempt on the course record of 20 minutes 43 seconds, that wasn’t something I need concern myself with though my time would be outside of that.
Having got kitted up I commenced my warm up, made all the more easier by the warm temperature and then at around 7:40pm I pulled up at the start line to get myself ready. Adam Kenway was just blasting off the line, he’d be pushing for the course record as well. After a brief chat with Matt Sinclair who was starting off a couple of minutes behind me it was the usual, 5,4,3,2,1 and off I went.
I’d targeted a time of 22:15 which is a fraction under an average of 27mph, the plan was to get to the turn in Bakewell at an average of 26mph (first 5 miles is slower than the last) and then get home in 28mph and as I pushed hard on the pedals I was on track to achieve my first objective. Prior to the race I’d reduced the PSI in my tyres a little and this seemed to stop my eyes rattling in my head and help me concentrate a bit more and I felt quite strong as I came into Bakewell. My average speed had dropped to 25.9mph and as I came around the small roundabout that is the turn (excellently marshalled by Matlock’s army of helpers) the lights were on red with a couple of cars queuing but I took a chance on them changing, reduced my power and hoped I would be right, it probably cost me a few seconds but no harm done.
Comparison to Paddy Gould
Having been a little slower than anticipated to the turn I knew I had my work cut out to achieve an average speed of 27mph so it was a case of buckling down and doing what I could. Having got over the lumpy Haddon Hall section the road then descends back down to Rowsley, here I was hitting 30mph+ and my average speed began to grow 26.2, 26.4 and as I swung around past the Grouse & Claret pub I was at 27mph. Despite some very near misses with cramp in both calves my confidence grew and with 1.5 miles to go my legs felt they had enough in them to go full gas, I’d need to as the last 0.5 miles was into a slight incline that would mean I’d be really fighting to keep the speed averaging 27mph.
Holding my best aero position I afforded myself some brief glances at my Garmin, my 3s power constantly over 300W as I smashed myself to pieces in search of the finish line. About 300 metres before the line despite me averaging 310W for the last mile the average speed dropped down to 26.9mph and as I crossed the line my time flashed up as 22:19, 4 seconds over my target but a performance I was happy with. On reflection now I think I could have gone a little bit harder to the turn as clearly I had enough in the tank at the end but with my 22:19 rounded up to 22:22 by the time keeper that was good enough for 10th place.
Matt Sinclair took the win in a blistering course record time of 20:18, Kenway in 2nd 20:44 and Paddy Gould in 3rd with a club record of 21:21. One of my other pre-race targets was to be within a minute of Paddy so that was all but achieved. Another was to get a power PB, I managed that by putting out 289W so all in all a satisfying night and a good confidence booster for Saturday.
Now all I need to do is rectify the mechanicals, nail this week’s training and I should be on for another good performance on Saturday.