Last night I decided to race down at Etwall on the fast A25/11 course, South Pennine Road Club host these club events every Tuesday, given it’s only about 25 minutes from my house it’s a great option to get a good training session in while also trying to lower my PB. I’ve raced on this course twice before, neither time have I covered myself in glory. The first time I got lost, well I turned too early meaning my time was void, the second time in good conditions I managed a PB of 54:31 despite feeling unwell due to a chesty cough.
Prior to those I had only ever done two other 25 mile TT’s but it’s a distance I’m keen to improve upon, I’d also set a challenging season goal of 51:59. Due to my PB only being 54:31 I missed out on racing last week in an open event on the same course, this was pretty annoying as I know I can go much faster than that, it’s just that for various times I’ve not achieved what I’m capable of. So last night was a chance to put things right, the windy weather was a concern, it would be pretty tough out, my time would be dependent on just how tough it was going to be.
After finally finding the layby (no fancy headquarters for a club night) I kitted up and got myself in race mode. I was feeling pretty confident, training was going well, health wise I’m in good shape and despite the fact my bike still had a few rattles, at 7:35pm I was released by the timekeeper and off I went in search of a quick time. I’ll say thanks at this point to the timekeepers and marshalls, much appreciated.
My race plan was simple, go hard to the turn which was 13 miles up the road, don’t get lost and then give it all I’d got on the way back.
I soon got up to speed and began laying the power down according to my plan, I felt in good shape and I really focused on staying as aero as I could, I soon passed rider number 4 and 3 as I headed out on the dual carriageway. I’d done a bit of course recce on Strava during the day as I was keen to memorise the roundabouts, (club night no marshalling at every turn), and so far things were going ok. There were moments of indecision, I also found the rumble strips a bit eye wobbling but power wise I was clearly in good shape.
Out on the DC itself there were a few lorries passing but generally due to the lack of cars they passed quite wide, this felt much easier to handle, cars can sometimes get a bit too close. The wind kept me focused, it was quite buffeting in places meaning I was moving around a bit and caused the speed to drop but it was totally manageable. In all honestly I felt strong, after extra efforts on the inclines and into the wind I was recovering and holding the power well.
To the turn stats
Almost messed it up..
As I approached the roundabout at 11 miles I moved over to the right, this was an error as I needed to go straight on, not ideal with a lorry right behind me either but thankfully I continued on the right path, it would have been gutting to have gone wrong when I knew I felt good. I had no idea at this point if I was going well time wise, what I did know was that I was personally performing well and as I looked up ahead I spotted the turn, (I’ve not always spotted the turn!), unlike in the open event where I lost about 20s due to red lights and traffic I scooted around the roundabout and headed for home. As I did so the car in front of decided to unload a mass of smoke and fumes, deep breath, clear the fog and off I went.
Having done 277W to the turn (13 miles) I knew that my race plan was bang on target, my best 10 power is 289W so targeting just below that had been executed well, now all I had to do was bring it home to find out if my plan was a good one.
I’d reached the turn in 29:32, averaging 26mph, I knew that 28mph average would be a 53:30, that would be a good effort given the tough out leg so my focus now was to try and achieve it. The return leg, whilst still having some uphill drags is much faster, more so last night as the wind was now in a more favourable direction and as I ploughed on I still felt really good. I’d decided not to bother with a drinks bottle this time, so despite a dry mouth it was one less thing to think about, good decision. I was holding my best aero position and with the sun behind me I had my shadow directly in front of me, this helped keep me in check, almost like I was racing myself. With speeds regularly over 35mph my average speed began to creep up into the mid 27s, the plan was working.
I was a little slower going around the roundabouts than perhaps I could have been, one in particular where I sat up when it was possible to stay in position due to the lack of traffic, there was actually a photographer on that one so no doubt I’ll look like I’m out for a Sunday social rather than going full gas. Taking it steadier meant that I actually went the right way though, I’ll happily lose a few seconds every time to make sure that remains the case.
Home leg stats
My average speed gradually increased to 27.8mph and as I came into the last mile I asked my legs to go, they responded, but would it be enough? For the last 0.8 miles I averaged 313W so plenty in the legs it seems but it wasn’t quite enough to hit that 28mph average, as I came across the line I hit the Garmin 53:51, (this would be rounded up to 53:53) but first emotion was satisfaction. I really felt that I’done my best tonight, with better conditions I would have been comfortably into the 52 minute bracket but in terms of racing, tonight was a good night.
I’d come 5th overall, my team mate Charlie Taylor taking the win in 49:59, Charlie had done a 48:23 a couple of months ago so that possibly gives an indication of the slower conditions. Jason Seabridge did a 52:03 on that day and did a 52:51 tonight. Impossible to tell their form or any hold ups but it points to a slower night.
So all in all a satisfying night, a new PB, a new target to beat and a real confidence boost that I’m improving. Next up, back to the fast O10/3 course in Ranby in search of a good result and a course PB.