On Saturday I’m racing a 2UP TT down at my local Cuckney course, the plan last night was to meet up with fellow Team Bottrill rider Simon Travell to get in some practice, sadly Simon couldn’t make it so I decided to race solo at the Sheffield Phoenix club 10 event on the same course. With conditions looking favourable I’d been confident of breaking my existing course PB of 22 minutes 25s so I’d spent some of my lunch break looking at what average speed that would equate to. I figured I’m aim high and look to break the 22 minute barrier, speed needed to do a 21:59 would be 27.29mph, so if I managed 27.3mph the job would be done.
Having grabbed a bite to eat at home and spent a bit of time with my family I headed down to Cuckney arriving about 30 minutes before the start, as I arrived I spotted Joel and Xavi from AMAC racing who’d had the same idea as Simon and myself and were going to get in some practice for Saturday. I purposely signed in after them as they’d go quicker than me and I didn’t want them passing me to disrupt my own goals for the evening. This meant I was actually number 13, it’s bad luck to be superstitious so I pinned my number the right way up, got my kit on and fired up my Garmin. First step as always is to calibrate my power meter, sadly it didn’t want to play ball, so I began my warm up without a power reading.
I rode a couple of miles up the road to get an idea of the conditions and to get my legs working. Whilst my legs were working ok, having stopped again it was clear my power meter wasn’t. No bother I thought, I know what average speed I need to do, I’ll just focus on that. Quite an alien concept as I’m used to looking at the power output when I race but I was actually looking forward to the enforced experiment. Warm up commenced, well, 10 minutes riding around and 5 minutes faffing I turned up at the start line ready to give it the beans.
Skin suit zipped up, Garmin ready, 3,2,1 and off I went down the gift hill at the start, the plan here was to push and make use of the slightly bigger gearing I was now using (52/11 instead of 52/12) and so I did, I exceeded 40mph down the first mile, keeping as aero as I could to maximise the gains. Average speed was obviously way north of 27.3mph at this point, but as I settled in I felt really good, pushing on the inclines, keeping it going on the flat, taking a slightly bigger breath on the descents. I had it in my head to be around 28.5mph average at the turn and as I approached the hill at roughly 5 miles I was on track for this, I flicked the chain up the cassette 5 or 6 notches pushed up the hill and just as important continued to push over the hill as I approached the turn. With a car approaching from the right I timed my effort to allow me to carry the speed through the fiddly “turn”, the second part of the turn is even more fiddly and I was held up slightly, maybe 2 seconds, no more than that. It happens at Cuckney, you just have to accept it, I remained focused getting the bike back up to speed knowing I could take a quick breather as I went back down the hill to begin the run for home.
The return leg was into a slight headwind and is generally slower anyway, I knew my 28.6mph to the turn would slowly creep down, I also didn’t know how many watts I’d put out, had I gone way too hard? No idea, we’d find out later I guess. The objective now was to keep that average speed to 27.3mph or higher and knowing this was now a realistic goal it really kept my head in check. At 7 miles I was averaging 28mph, at 8 miles that was down to 27.6mph, this was going to be close. My legs were naturally tiring but I knew if I could keep it above 27.3mph average with a mile to go I’d have enough in my legs to break 22 minutes, mainly because I knew that the slight downhill sections would help increase the average, add to the fact with a sub 22 on the menu I’d not be letting up.
Comparison to previous PB
At 9.6 miles the average speed dropped briefly to 27.3mph, then back up to 27.4mph as I started emptying the tanks fully for those last 700 metres. Looking at the data for the last 0.4 miles I averaged 27.5mph, net result was an average of 27.4mph and a time of 21:58, job well and truly done. I had initially thought that improving my course PB by 26 seconds would be a tall order, but on the flip side I felt that time was in me.
The lack of a power meter was certainly no hindrance on a course I’m familiar with but it would have been nice to see what I put out, regardless of that, the feeling I got when I stopped my Garmin and saw 21:56 was pretty fulfilling. And even though I knew the official time would be slightly slower, it wasn’t going to be 4 seconds so I had no doubt I’d gone under 22. 21:58 Happy days.
At the start of the season I’d set a goal on this course of 21:30, I knew this was a stretch and with 28 seconds to find it’s still a stretch. The season so far has been a bit fragmented but with the training I’m getting from Dan through Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching I know I can find some more time. I don’t think it will be 28 seconds and there’s certainly no money in the pot for go faster bits, but with more than 2 months to go I think there could be another 10 seconds in me, so maybe even a 21:45 if I can nail things. I’ll just have to keep the training going and an eye on the weather and see what happens.
Next stop, Cuckney on Saturday for the 2up.