It’s been a strange season really, my second as a time trialler, my first as part of the newly formed Team Bottrill. As regular readers of my blog, you’ll no doubt be familiar with all my saddle issues at the end of 2015 and into early 2016. Looking back now that was a nightmare situation, knowing that getting on your bike is going to be annoying and uncomfortable really sucked the life out of me, indeed comfort issues on the bike now are not fully resolved and that impacted on my targets for the season.
For 10 miles I wanted to break 20 minutes, for 25 miles I wanted to break 52 minutes. It soon became apparent that the first one was certainly achievable the second was nigh on impossible, mainly because I had no appetite for racing for 25 miles, indeed I would only do this 3 times all season. In my head the 25 mile goal sailed pretty early, I managed to do a 53:53 on a midweek event at Etwall but my focus moved solely to 10 miles some time before that.
I did my best to keep on track with my training but truth be known it became a struggle, the discomfort, the turbo, illness, struggling for time, not having money to buy a disc or any other watt saving piece of equipment or any other excuse I cared to use hampered things a little. I know others will have faced their own battles so kudos to them. However, due to a clear approach of quality over quantity from my coach Dan Barnett I did manage to progress through the season. My power at 10 miles continued to grow, my race craft improved and before long I was beating, well hammering my course personal bests.
What I learned this season was getting my head right and ready for training is a challenge I’ll probably never overcome to allow the consistency needed, but on race day I can pull it out of the bag and to an extent, over perform. Admittedly, whilst I had a few top 10’s this year, there is a massive leap between where I am and being at the very sharp end. With consistent training and a bigger bank balance I’d no doubt get a tiny bit closer but the beauty of the sport, is that you can have many goals outside of winning. Goals for time, power and performance against those around you always gives you something to fight for, I think I fought pretty well.
There were 3 courses that I really wanted to improve my times on this year, the V718 near Hull, the O10/5 at cuckney (one of my local courses) and the O10/1 in Hatfield, so how did I do?
O10/5 – Cuckney
2015 PB = 22 minutes 25 seconds
2016 PB = 21 minutes 42 seconds
43 second improvement
After racing here on a cold March afternoon and doing a 22:27 I knew that I would be beating that 22:25 at some point. On the 21st June I entered the Sheffield Phoenix club 10, despite my power meter failing I achieved my objective on the night which was to break 22 minutes, just sneaking under with a 21:58. I bettered that time on the 21st August with a 21:42, sadly time has ran out for me to get a 21:29 but a 43 second improvement was very pleasing.
2015 PB = 22:18
2016 PB = 21:49
29 second improvement
Due to the crap surface on this course I avoided it early on but knowing I wanted a sub 22 minute time I entered the tickhill velo event on the 13th August. With a reasonably stiff crosswind to overcome I brought my Canyon Speedmax home in 21 minutes 49 seconds for 10th place, I was really pleased with that effort and a 29 second improvement on my 2015 time which was set on a much quicker day weather wise.
V718 South Cave
2015 PB = 21:01
2016 PB = 19:46
75 second improvement
Back to the almost mythical V718 course, the fastest course in the country, where all you have to do is let your brakes off and get that 19, or an 18 if you have fancy kit. I joke of course but some people would have you believe that you simply rock up and PB on this course, in truth you don’t, yes it’s fast but you still have to pedal like mad. My first outing in 2016 saw me come home in 20:14, that race was a night mare, my visor completed misted up at 4.5 miles and I was recovering from illness, typically both occurred on a night when the conditions were remarkably still. I had to wait two months to get a place on there again, on that day it was the dreaded westerly that put pay to my chances of the 19, but on the day I put out my best ever power (296W) for a 20:19, the time couldn’t be helped, the power was pleasing.
My next opportunity was on the 28th August, my last chance of the season, conditions on the day were not ideal, but they weren’t likely to kill my aspirations either. Having reached the turn bang on schedule, all I needed to do was not lose too much of my average speed, keep aero into the mild westerly wind and I’d achieve my goal, I crossed the line in 19:46. Job done, but as mentioned on my previous blog, I perhaps didn’t get the joy I thought I might and this led me to do more thinking about 2017.
Realistically what can I achieve, sure I could lower my PB’s a bit more and breaking 21 minutes at Cuckney is something I’d like to do but an 18 on the V718, highly unlikely, win an open, no chance and 25 miles holds zero motivation for me anymore. So with all that in mind I made the decision to cease my coaching and just go back to riding my bike.
The coaching I have had has brought me on no end, being part of Team Bottrill has also been a good experience but the last few weeks have been a welcome release and have reaffirmed that I have made the right decision.
I had planned to enter some hill climbs as normally I enjoy the challenge but being honest my motivation for racing has totally gone for this year and motivating myself to get in peak condition is not something I have any desire to do.
Over the next few months and through winter the aim is to ride my bike for fun, I’ll ride hard but with no structure and then see how I feel about time trialling in February / March. I’m sure I’ll get the bug again but I think midweek club events will be the route I’ll take, maybe the odd open to see what level I’m at. For now though, it’s back to the hills of Derbyshire.
Thanks to everyone that helped me this year, in particular Dan and everyone at Team Bottrill, much appreciated.