On Saturday I was racing on the O10/3 course near Ranby it’s a fast course on its day and having put in a good performance earlier in the season it was a race I was looking forward to. However, after racing on Tuesday and training on Wednesday I felt pretty tired on Thursday, I think in part due to neglecting my recovery a bit and stopping up later watching the Tour de France, so much so that as I commenced my pre-race intervals on Friday night my legs felt they were made of concrete. Excitement about racing turned to apprehension, made even worse by the late start of 6:20pm.
Due to the wind it wasn’t going to be a fast day (is it ever), it would be fast out to the turn due to a tailwind but this would then turn to headwind for the return leg so it’s one of the those days you need your legs to be on form. After chatting with team mate Simon it was time to get ready and head to the start, the start being 5 miles from the HQ thus providing a nice warm up. Albeit windy, it was probably about 20 degrees which really helps to get the muscles primed for the effort that is going to be required. Have to admit, during the warm up I was still feeling sluggish but I was pretty confident that would pass when the time keeper sent me off down the A1, and at 6:20pm off I went.
I rapidly got up to speed and before long I was doing over 30mph, my plan was to average about 31mph to the turn, it’s probably scientifically proven that holding a little back for the harder return leg is quicker but I always feel that if I’ve held too much in reserve I won’t be able to make that back, so smash it to the turn and then hang on was my basic plan. After 2 miles I’d already caught my first rider as I barrelled down the dual carriageway (DC), that sluggish feeling had certainly gone, as in recent races I was feeling good. My course PB was a 20:45 (good enough for 12th place) set in March on a better day than today, that equates to a 28.92mph average, so my aim today despite the conditions was to get as close to 29mph as I could, as I approached the turn I’d done 30.8mph, 0.3mph faster that in March, first job complete it was now time for the tougher return leg and the headwind.
Comparison to last time
Grovel and beg
Having negotiated the turn I was soon back on the A1 and heading for home, 4.5 miles to turn myself inside out in search of a good time. As in previous races I focused on holding my best aero position, pushing hard on the inclines, nailing the rest and whilst the speed was slower and the average speed dropping my legs were doing as requested. I had an annoying rattle coming from my cassette or chain but thankfully the headwind drowned that out, a bit like turning the stereo up when your car has a knocking noise….. There seemed to be a bit more traffic on the way back which was helping but the wind was strong and gusting, killing the speed and making the task much harder.
Comparison of home leg
After 8 miles I was still averaging over 30mph, if I held that (no chance) I’d be under 20 minutes, but those last 2 miles, in particular the last 1.5 are pretty tough, mostly uphill and today into a strong headwind but so far so good. At 9 miles my average had dropped by 0.5 mph to 29.6, power was 288W pretty much bang on as good as anything I’d ever produced. At 9.5 miles, my average was now 29.2mph but my power remained at 288W, so even though the speed was dropping my power wasn’t, the legs were still doing as they were told. The finish line then came into view, the speed was dropping like a stone but with a few more pedal strokes it was over, hitting the Garmin, I saw a 20 and 5, I wasn’t quite sure of the last digit as the sweat from my visor had gone in my eyes, but although not a course PB it was pretty pleasing to know I’d gone under 21 minutes again, official time 20:56, producing 290W, another watt added to my power PB.
Comparison to last time
As you can see, it wasn’t until the end that the wind took it’s toll.
For the last mile I had averaged a measly 23.4mph, indeed when I crossed the line I’m sure I saw 19mph which feels like you are going backwards, but my power was 296W which I was really pleased with, it meant I was strong to the line and had paced it well. After coasting off the A1, I regathered myself and figured I’d add a bit more training load and pushed quite hard back to the HQ, back to the car, changed and off I went into the HQ to see how my time stacked up. I’d had the dubious honour of being on an “0”, not sure I quite merited that (riders starting on a zero (10, 20, 30 etc normally reserved for the quickest riders) but having accepted a belated gift of tanning lotion (to help with my white legs, thanks guys) from Chris & Karen Ledger I spotted Simon who congratulated me on my time, that was encouraging, obviously meaning I’d done ok.
Geoff Platts, another Bottrill rider introduced himself and then enquired if I could have produced a sprint at the finish, I couldn’t but the reason for the question was that we had both finished on the same time of 20:56, that time being good enough for joint 8th, my best performance to date. The consensus in the HQ was the same as my own, that last 2 miles were VERY tough. A strong performance from Lutterworth Cycling meant they took the team prize, Lee Tunnicliffe taking the win with a 19:56. Thanks as always to the organisers and marshalls who give up their time to make these races possible.
Next up, an early morning 25 mile TT over in Sleaford on Sunday.