Last week’s racing was a little different, Sunday, an early start time of 8:50am and 65 miles away, so with that in mind I got everything ready the night before and at 6:30am I was off on the road heading towards Sleaford for the 25 mile TT – Nev Crane Memorial. No problem with the early start I’m normally awake for 5:30am most days anyway, that’s what you get with an excitable 2 year old.
Although windy (which would make the racing really hard), the temperature was already up around 20c as Simon and I commenced our warm up and made our way to the start. Well I say warm up, it was a brief pootle around, the “warm” bit was taken care of as summer seemed to have finally arrived. With a final swig of Lucozade I chucked my jersey in the back of team mate Russell Jelly’s car and rolled to the start line. Around 90 seconds later I was released by the starter and off I went.
As soon as I set off I sensed this was going to be a hard slog, glancing briefly at the power (this was good), I also looked at the speed (this was bad), it was pretty demoralising. My last 2 races have been on dual carriageways so whilst admittedly the scenery was a lot nicer here, the terrain was a lot more challenging. Navigationally the course is very simple, in fact I’ve even done some of it before when I did a 10 mile TT last year, but the surface was pretty crap in places, throw in some wind and it made for a tough day, I doubt any of these things bother the top guys so I just settled in and began doing what I could.
A westerly wind meant the first 7 miles were into a head wind, so I figured I’d push the power to minimise the time loss, 281W to that first roundabout which is only 10W below my 10 mile pace, the reward for that was an average of 23.1mph, as I said, demoralising!
For the next 5 or so miles to the turn I dropped things down a bit as 281W for 25 miles is a bit on the high side for myself, net result, 261W and a slightly more respectable 25.6mph as the wind being faced was now of the cross variety. On the way back from the turn I spotted my team mate Simon, he gave a little wave, I’d found out afterwards this wasn’t a wave it was the universal sign for “Rubbish”.
So, to the turn at 13 miles, I’d averaged 24.2mph for 271W, at Etwall last week I’d done 272W for the whole 25 so I knew there should be a few watts in the tank, all I needed to do was push towards 20 miles as hard as I could and then it’d be fast for the last few miles with the tailwind. That section was 6.2 miles, I averaged 25.6mph for 258W, in summary not great, admittedly it was slightly uphill in terms of average, but I just seemed to be finding it really difficult.
Over the last 20 miles I’d had to shake out my arms about 4-5 times as for some reason they were really aching, I was also fidgeting quite a bit, not sure why this was, it’s not something I’d experienced at Etwall, maybe I was gripping tighter with the wind, I really don’t know, maybe I just need to grow a pair and get on with it.
After 20 miles I negotiated the final roundabout, a roundabout I was nearly wiped out on during the previously mentioned 10 mile TT last year, indeed the passage on the out leg today wasn’t without incident, but anyway, back to that tailwind. Once over the incline the speed began to rise and I was constantly doing over 30mph, this felt great, only issue now was in my groin, I was pretty uncomfortable by this point, even more so when I hit a bump, F*CK OFF I yelled before refocusing back on the job in hand.
Last section, 5.8 miles, average speed 29.9mph, power 253W, speed good, power rubbish, it clearly wasn’t my day today. Using average speed as guide I thought I’d done 59 minutes something, but back at the HQ my time was actually a 58:30, average speed 25.7mph, average power 263W, overall summary, average. After an autopsy of our races, Simon (who’d done 59:32 and who was also down on power), we headed in to the HQ to look at the timing board. Encouragingly there were a lot of riders who had gone over the hour, it was by no means an easy day out there.
Cake consumed we had a brief chat with Dan, (who was actually winning at this point with a 53:45), he’d also found it tough going but had still banged in a great time, like I say the conditions don’t bother the guys at the sharp end quite so much. I figured we’d be in with a chance of the team prize but I had to get off home, I’d find out later from Dan, who ended up in 4th that thanks to Dan, Russ Jelly and myself we had indeed scooped the team prize, it was a nice to play part, albeit small.
Top left me, top right Dan Barnett, below Dan is the winner Matt Sinclair, bottom left is Simon, bottom right is Russ Jelly. Thanks as always to Brian Hall for the images.
So onto the results, there were about 125 riders on the start line, here is the top 30. I came in 23rd, so not a complete disaster but unlike most of my races where I feel like I have performed well, I left the course feeling a little underwhelmed, but that’s racing for you, thankfully there’s always another race coming up where you can put things right.
A special thanks to Doug and the Sleaford Wheelers for putting on a great event, this was Doug’s last promotion, I wish him all the best in his retirement.
Below is the link to the comprehensive results sheet and a little bit more about the event itself.