Season finished – time for something new

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Target courses

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.

O10/1 Hatfield

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.

 

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The future

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.

Cheers

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Mission accomplished – 19:46

At the beginning of the season (well the end of last season actually) I looked at what I wanted to achieve, there were numerous targets but the main goal was to do a “19”, a 19 meaning that I needed to exceed 30mph average for a 10 mile time trial, the most likely course for me to achieve that is the V718 in South Cave near Hull. It’s possible I could achieve it on the O10/3 near Ranby in Hull but that would really need all the stars to align so the focus has been on the V718, on Sunday I was entered in the Team Swift event, starting at 3:11 in what looked like fair conditions. The forecast was around 20c and light winds, 3 out 4 previous attempts here I’ve faced a speed killing westerly wind, the other time I was recovering from illness, but having achieved a 20:14 then a 20:19 in much tougher conditions I’ve felt confident that I could achieve my target.

Due to the scale of Sundays event the normal HQ was dispensed with but I found the new one OK, pulled into the car park, had a quick chat with Neil Parkin and then set about getting myself ready. There had been a chance of rain around 3pm and sure enough as I wriggled into my skin suit a few black clouds were forming, but thankfully as I began my warm up these dissipated and my warm up was unaffected. I was feeling pretty good but not so good that I should have been sat at the start line with nearly 15 minutes to go, I could have panicked but it was what it was, I just kept calm and kept my mind on the job. There was some good news though, my team jersey I thought had been lost was actually still in the time keepers car from 3 weeks ago, so far so good.

Race Time

Having seen team mate George Evans set off like Wiggins did when he raced here last year I decided that my launch from the line should be a little more spirited so when the starter released me I gave it some welly before getting in positon and entering the dual carriageway. On my momentary glances at my Garmin I was still well above race pace, 328W for the first mile, so about 28W more than perhaps I should have been, especially with a light tailwind behind, it crossed my mind I’d probably pay for it later, time would tell.

Unlike most Saturday events I have done on here, the traffic, in particular larger vehicles (lorries, buses etc) seem to be absent, in fact I only remember 1 bus coming past me on the run for the turn, speed wise this probably didn’t help but concentration wise I think I felt more focused than ever, the power was there, I was feeling good, the speed was evident, so far so good, next challenge was the turn.

As I turned off the DC, I gave it the beans up the off ramp, with some great marshalling I proceeded without any bother around the first roundabout, (remaining in positon, pedalling hard) and then as I negotiated the last bit I pushed hard down the on ramp, one thing struck me as I did, there was a headwind, not that strong, but noticeable. The mission now having averaged 31.1mph for the first 4.5 miles, could I hang on for the remaining 5.5 and keep it above 30?

Welton Drag

Welton Drag

One of the most challenging parts of the course is the strava segment “Welton to South Cave”, this incorporates a slightly uphill section that requires some extra grunt to maintain close to race speed, my issue here was that although my legs were turning the pedals I was starting to feel the effects of that first mile. My average speed was dropping, but not dropping like a stone, I remember looking at my Garmin at 8 miles and seeing 30.7 or 30.6mph average, I knew that if I could keep it above 30 with 1 mile to go then unless I blew up or had a mechanical I’d get my 19, I needed no more motivation so I gritted my teeth and pushed on.

My power at this point was getting lower and fluctuating between enthusiastic and near death, but I still had the confidence that the job was almost done especially when I spotted the time keepers car up ahead. With a few more torturous turns of the pedals I crossed the line, 19 minutes and 46 seconds after I’d started. 30.35mph, mission accomplished.

V718 Strava times

V718 Time List

Last mile (power meter dropped out for about 14 seconds on this race)

Bridge to finish - Last 1.1 miles

Back to HQ

Getting back to the car is normally an easy thing to do but I lost my bearings again and had to get advice from rider number 73, back down the A63 apparently so off we went. On the ride back I had time to think about things and what I had achieved, I have to say I wasn’t as thrilled as I thought I might have been. Thinking about it now, I recall Andy Murray saying about winning his gold medal for the first time, the emotion was more of relief and he’d not quite taken the time to enjoy it, relief mirrored my own emotion and still does 2 days later.

There was no fanfare back at the car (why would there be), in fact unlike most other events I didn’t speak to anyone, I just got changed and drove home. But let’s be honest here, I’ve not broken any world records, it was a good personal achievement, I’d set out this goal nearly 12 months ago, I’ve worked pretty hard (for the most part) to achieve it and got it done in my last big race of the season. Yeah, it’s still relief but at this point I think it’s right to thank my coach Dan Barnett.

I must be the worst pupil ever, I miss sessions, I fail sessions but in between that I do what I can with the time I have. This is where the coaching comes in, the fact is it’s been really effective, with the hours I do I would not have done a 19:46 and I wouldn’t have improved my course PB’s in the way I have so cheers mate. Before being coached, my 10 mile TT power was around 270-275W, 6 months later I was around 285 and now a year on its solidly at 295W, that’s a solid progression given my haphazard training.

Training time over last few weeks

Training Time

Results – Official Results

I’d only just scraped in to this event with my previous PB of 20:14, so I hadn’t expected to come half way, tied 48th out of 109 so that was pretty pleasing, knowing I’d gone faster than a lot of other riders who were previously quicker than myself.

Massive thanks to Team Swift for putting on a huge event, lots of money raised for charity too.

So what’s next…

In terms of time trialling, apart from a club event this week that’s it, the TT bike will be going in the loft until 2017. Hill climbs are next on the agenda but that’ll mean finding some motivation, will have to see how that plays out over the next few weeks.

Cucking on Gas – New Course PB

Club 10 last night, much more low key and relaxed than Open events but no less enjoyable and a good opportunity to hone your skills and keep the racing legs sharp. Quite a decent turnout too for the B&DCC run event on the O10/5 course in Cuckney. Matlock is closer but I class this as my home course and it’s a good one too, a single carriageway on lightly rolling terrain, a downhill start and a short sharp climb near the turn. The scenery (not that you look at it) is a marked departure from the lightening quick dual carriageway courses but I suppose being slower you do get more for you £3 entry fee.

A few weeks ago I lowered my course PB from 22:25 to 21:58, 27 seconds is a big jump, the aim is to get to 21:30, it’s a big ask to drop another 28s but I thought last night I could get closer to it. Lots of familiar faces, my team mate Simon Travell, the AMAC boys Xavi, Joel and Bish along with the likely winner of the evening, Mapperley’s Ian Guilor who is having a great season. Great to have some quick lads racing and also good that the weather was nice too, warm, not much wind, not the perfect conditions but nothing that would hinder any of us.

Having commenced a brief warm up with Simon I pulled up at the start with a couple of minutes to go and at 19:12 I was blasting off down the hill. It didn’t feel as fast as normal and for the first mile it was the normal balancing act of getting up to speed but not blowing a gasket. Last time out I’d reached the turn (5.5 miles) with an average speed of 28.5mph, tonight I thought I might be a bit slower as the wind wasn’t quite the same, but that would mean whatever speed I made it there in, I wouldn’t lose as much coming home. My focus tonight was on power, I aimed for 300W and as I approached the sharp incline just before turn, power was 297W, average speed of 28.1mph, pretty much bang on.

Rounding the turn with no incident I accelerated hard to bring myself back up to speed, dropped down the short decline and then got in my best position and headed for home. I felt my power was a bit erratic on the way home, naturally I was tiring but I would have liked to have been smoother, something to work on for the future.

A few brief glances down at my Garmin showed I was on target to beat my PB, no more motivation was needed to keep pressing on the pedals and due to the fact I averaged 27.5mph for 288W on the way back meant the finish line came into view slightly earlier than expected. Normally I would have attempted my final push slightly earlier, however who’s to say that would have been more effective. Having aimed to get over 27.3mph average last time out, my Garmin was solidly at 27.7mph as I crossed the line in a time of 21:42, 16 seconds quicker than last time, a really pleasing result, leaving me “only” another 12 seconds to find.

I was pretty exhausted as I spun the bike around and headed back to the car, removing my helmet offered some cooling, as did my mars milkshake, after changing I wandered over to the laptop to see how my time stacked up, ok as it happened. Ian Guilor taking the win in 20:54, Xavi in 2nd with 21:27 and then myself and Joel separated by a 1s, 1 bloody second with him having the advantage to put me down in 4th. Andy Bishop (insert link from his business) competing on a normal road bike did a superb time of 22:12, no doubt he’ll be flying once his new TT bike is built up.

Some comparisons from last night, Ian Guilor doesn’t use Strava so just me, Xavi, Joel and Bish are shown below:

comparison

As you can see, at the turn there was virtually nothing in it between Xavi, Joel and myself, Bish clearly with a different strategy was 35 seconds down. Xavi managed to gain some advantage on the way back, Joel road pretty much the same race as me. He’d got a 4 second gap with a couple of miles to go, I narrowed that to 1 at the line. Bish on his road bike only lost a handful of seconds to Xavi on the way back, he actually gained 5-6 seconds from me in the final mile alone, clearly he was finishing like a train.

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As I began to get packed up for home I had a chat with a guy called Dan Paris, last night was his 3rd attempt at time trialling, he’s gone from over 30 minutes to 28 minutes 16s on a standard road bike setup. Having just bought a power meter he was enquiring about power to try and get some comparison, mentioning also that he’d now bought some tri bars and a different seat post, he’s caught the bug already.

Although relatively new to TT myself I always try to give as much encouragement to people as I can, since I’ve started there’s always been people like Dan, Andy Bishop, Bill, Simon and a host of others that’d have done the same for me so I try to do the same. People often see TT as for the serious cyclist, it’s certainly not, if you ride a bike, chances are you can do 10 miles (last night’s distance), you do a time, that’s your time to beat. Pushing hard hurts a bit, but it’s a great feeling, generally good fun and competitive as you want to make it.

The countdown is now on for Sunday 28th and the V718, Operation 19 is on track.

 

Caped Crusader – O10/1 – Course PB

The last few weeks have not been too positive, after getting an illness that kept me off the bike for 5 days I’ve really lost my enthusiasm for training and despite a lot input from my coach I have struggled to get anywhere close to nailing the sessions I’ve been set. But on Saturday I felt that racing might be the boost that I needed so off I headed to Hatfield Woodhouse for the Tickhill Velo promoted 10 mile TT on the O10/1.

Trouble was that even loading the car up I was struggling for motivation, normally I spend this time thinking about the race, what I’m going to attempt to do and what goals I want to accomplish on the day, today though I just couldn’t get fired up. “30 minute delay between Junction 32 & 33”, would normally evoke emotions of anger, but to be honest it would actually not be a bad thing today, it would give me a way out. It was at this point I decided to get my head in gear, I knew once I’d pulled on the skin suit and stuck a number on I’d be ok and 30 minutes before my start time that’s exactly what happened. I guess it’s a bit like how Superman or Batman feels, normal guy one minute, the next moment, transformed. OK that might be pushing it a bit……..

After my usual, detailed and highly effective warm up of 14 minutes riding around making sure my legs and bike work I nipped back to the car for a final drink and pulled up at the start line ready and raring to go. It was a warm day, but the wind was really blowing, oddly though I was struggling to see where it was coming from so I’d have to react to that once I set off. At 14:35 off I went. I’d feared that the missed training and illness might dampen my legs but I decided to risk going at my normal pace, nothing ventured nothing gained. The O10/1 course “or rumble strip” as it’s now being called is a classic out and back course, the only real challenge (apart from the obvious) are 2 sections of road (loose term) that are really rutted and bumpy. On the out leg this section of road had me swearing loudly and thinking I’m never coming back here again (it’s not that bad). I’d chosen a line, a bad line that had me rocking and rolling all over but once cleared I found my legs doing what they’d been doing recently, working well.

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Hold up

I think I’ve raced this course 5 times before, solo and as part of a 2up and at the turn I’ve generally (apart from a bit of cramp) never really been held up, on Saturday I guess it was my time to have a bit of bad luck. Approaching the turn there were 5 or 6 cars queuing which meant I really had to kill the speed, I took the opportunity to take a few deep breaths and mini recovery before launching myself out of the roundabout to head back from where I’d came. Analysis after the race seemed to show I’d lost about 3-4 seconds to the field, nothing really so although frustrated at the time, it didn’t make any difference to my placing.

My previous course PB here was 22:18, set August last year on a blisteringly hot day, the conditions today were not quite as good but as I made my way back my pace was strong, certainly under the 22:18 mark. I’d hit the turn at 28.5 mph and on target power, I felt I’d be slower on the return but under 22 minutes barring incident looked nailed on, that was pretty much the target for the day. I expected the conditions to be harder on the way back and although they were it felt pretty fair, you didn’t feel like you were battling them, that just left the focus on the pedals and going as quick as I could.

Rumble strip part 2

Crossing the rough section on the way home required some concentration, I made sure I missed anything that might try to cremate my front wheel and then looked down at the distance to go and figured it was time to give it all I’d got. I knew I was on for a course PB, but I also knew that I was on for the sub 22 minute time and that gave me all the focus I needed. As I crossed the line and stopped the Garmin 21:46 flashed up, a great time for myself on the day especially given my negative outlook earlier, maybe I was Batman after all, well perhaps more Robin with a (slightly) less camp outfit.

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Results

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Once changed I headed into HQ and kept my eye on the results board, I seemed to have gone OK, early on there were only a couple of riders ahead of me, the final results had me finishing in 9th with a 21:49 (a 29s course PB), although I think this should be 10th as someone was given an incorrect time. Special mention here goes to Neal Parkin, who on his new Giant Trinity bike had smashed his course PB by about 2 minutes to come in 3rd with 21:09, well done mate, nice prize money too.

Well done to Simon Beldon from the SSLL racing team who left it late to claim the win by 2s!

Simon Beldon (pic courtesy of John Robert Photography)

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Neal Parkin (pic courtesy of John Robert Photography)

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Along with my teammate Andy Cutts there was some more good news, we’d scooped the team prize, £22.50 each, another 30 of those and I’ll get myself a disc wheel!

The drive home was a happier affair, my recovery meal of a large sausage roll and a chocolate milkshake providing me with virtually none of the nutrients I needed to replenish myself but tasting pretty good. I also had time to reflect on a good time and how to keep myself motivated with my attempt to get that 19 on the V718 in 2 weeks’ time. I just need to hold it together for 2 weeks!

Thanks to Tickhill for a well ran event, all the best for your future promotions.

Bugs, plans and great big lumps

After going really well it was natural that after mentioning about not getting ill I picked up an illness, bit of a strange one involving some numbness and tingling in my face and the fact my energy levels plummeted to just above zero, so much so that Mrs Supermurph had to pick me up from work. After a visit to the doctors where there seemed to be no immediate concern and 5 days off the bike I resumed training again over the weekend. Well I say training, I just rode my bike with no structure, I probably went a bit too hard on the Saturday and felt a bit tired afterwards but on Sunday I felt really good again so pushed on quite hard for over an hour. The latter has given me confidence that I’ve not lost much in terms of the fitness I had worked really hard to build up.

The enforced break gave me time to look at what’s left in terms of racing this season and where I am at, in summary I’ve got at least 3, hopefully 4 open races left, all at 10 miles. My target time for 2016 has been to go under 20 minutes, so in TT speak “do a 19”. The only course I will achieve that is the V718 in Hull, I’ll have 2 chances to get that done, entry should be ok for both of those, I’ll just need the wind (weather wise) to behave itself. My only other 2 events are the O10/1 at Hatfield Woodhouse on Saturday and then the O10/3 near Ranby on the 1st October. In between that I may do some club 10’s and there will also be a handful of hill climb events I’ll take on but that will be it for 2016.

The O10/1 – Hatfield Woodhouse

My current PB there is 22:18 set last August in very warm temperatures, the challenge (weather permitting) will be to go under 22 minutes. Looking at the long term forecast it’s set to be warm again and the wind speed looks ok, light cross at present so I’m hopeful if my fitness is back to normal of achieving my goal there. I’m familiar with the course and it’s rumble strip surface so it’s not a trip into the unknown, I’m confident I can get this done and place well on the day.

The V718 – South Cave nr Hull

Current PB here is 20:14, set on a good day but when I was well down on power after recovering from illness. I backed that up with a 20:19 two weeks ago on a much tougher day, if I put out the same power I did to set the 20:19 then barring incident I’ll  surely go under the 20 minutes. If I don’t then I’ll be pretty deflated and it’ll put a real dampener on the season.

The O10/3 – Ranby Nottinghamshire

Current PB here is 20:45 that was my first solo race this year on the back of “saddlegate”, despite the initial panic, power wise I was pretty good that day, I backed that up (on a tougher day) with a 20:56 after a (then) power PB for 8th place. With a favourable wind I see no reason why I can’t get near to a 20:30, that would be a real success this year and a great way to round off the season.

Hill Climbs

The current plan is for 4, possibly 5 hill climb events.

Hardwick Hall, near Bolsover. This is a great event put on by my former club B&DCC, it’s a night time event in September that is starting to make a real name for itself. I’ve done it once, I think I could go quicker now so might give it another go.

Hardwick in 2014

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Carr Lane, near Bolsover. Again ran by B&DCC this course is another one I like, I’ve raced here for the last 2 seasons, I’m confident I can improve my time again so this is one I’ll definitely be doing.

Picture from Carr Lane last year

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Beeley Moor, Beeley. Although I have ridden up it a dozen times, last year was my first official hill climb up it. I was confident of putting in a good time and had prepared pretty well for it. The wind on the day scuppered my aim of going under 10 minutes, I did a 10:32, sadly I messed my start time up and got a 5 minute penalty, that would have been good enough for 15th and some Vet prize money, I’ll not be making that mistake again!

Bank Road, Matlock. This climb is horrific, I’ve not ridden it for a while but this year I might be doing it twice. Once in the Matlock CC event and then if I get a place (and feel mental enough) it’ll be the host for the prestigious National Hill Climb event. Given that it’s only 15 minutes from my front door it would be a shame not to be part of it.

My ex club mate and friend Dave Archer tackling Bank Road

 

Then that’ll be the end of the season, hopefully after those races are completed I can look back and be happy with what I have achieved. If not I’ll be selling the TT bike and taking up something else….

Flying then crawling – A windy V718

Since my last race on the fabled V718 course I’d been wanting to tick off my season goal of doing a 19 (30mph average), last time I’d done a 20:14, on that day I was about 20W down due to recovering from illness so I know there’s a 19 in there. After initially worrying about rain and a misted up visor again, it was the westerly wind that would be the challenge. My training with Dan has been going well so it was just time to put it down on the tarmac. I arrived to the HQ pretty early, the car park felt quite calm in terms of wind but looking at the tree tops there was a wind blowing, but it felt warm and the rain was nowhere to be seen, two out of three aint bad I suppose.

The event was being promoted by Scott Burns through Team Jayden, if you have time take a look at their website and the good work they are doing for womens cycling: http://teamjadan.com/ , upon sign on I got some free bike cleaner and also bought a raffle ticket to win some very nice looking ADR bars, (sadly number 48 was not a winner). Having got kitted up I began my warm up, with my new chain on from www.cycledivision.com things felt smooth, my Canyon Speedmax now sounding like a bike rather than a knackered old tractor as I made my way down the dual carriageway to the start. Despite racing here 3 times before I got to the start about 15 minutes before I needed to and with strict instructions not to pass the start line and warm up in South Cave I basically spent the next 5-10 minutes chatting with a fellow rider (whose name escapes me) before arriving at the start line, not ideal but as it was warm the error wasn’t as bad, lesson learned for next time.

Go time

Keen to find those extra few seconds that would help me nail that 19 I started off quickly then settled in for the run to the turn. After pushing hard with the tailwind for comfort I rocketed to the turn in 31.5mph, this was my pre-race plan, however, on the day with the extra wind I was hoping to have a bit more in hand to achieve an overall average just north of 30mph. As I exited the off ramp I pushed really hard, kept in position most of the way around the turn then gave it the beans down the on ramp into the now strong headwind.

Picture from Craig Zad

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Power wise things were good and despite the average speed dropping, I was really happy with what I was doing. The wind was like having a parachute on, I was doing 10-15% over race pace in parts and the speed was just laughing back at me. All I could do was keep smashing it up and do my best.

Training has been going well, I’ve been consistent and today it was showing, last time out I was recovering from illness and did 270W overall for a 20:14 (in good conditions), today my power was just above 295W as I began turning up the wick to try and keep that average speed above 30mph. But as the miles ticked down the 19 was getting out of reach, the power increased to 298W average but the headwind was obliterating my speed which was now about 29.6mph.

The last mile and half is quicker than the 2 that preceded it so I knew I’d lift that speed a bit if I could maintain my power, I just about managed to do this but despite dying a bit in the final few metres I crossed the line with nothing left in the legs, happy with how I’d done my race.

Comparison of last 5 miles, my previous best time was set when there was no wind, I went nearly 40 seconds quicker for 23 watts less! (naturally I would have gained time on the out leg)

Last 5 miles Team Jayden

 

Initially I thought I’d done 20:39 which wouldn’t have been a disaster, but after changing and going inside the HQ the time keeper put 20:19 up which had me checking my Garmin, 20:18 it said on there so I was happy with that given the strong headwind, particularly as I’d done a power PB too (296W, 6W added, roughly 302W for the return leg), I really could have done no more today, I’d paced it well and despite the strong headwind I’d got a time only 5s outside my previous best, on a half decent day that 19 will be nailed. 20:19 equates to 29.53mph.

Results – https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/race-results/12302

So how did I do? The cut off time for this event was about 20:30 (I’d just scraped in) so it’s no surprise that the field was a really strong one,  47th from 83 (mens) starters was a decent result, personal pride means being pleased with 47th is not something I’m comfortable with but satisfied (for now) is probably the emotion best suited to that placing. I would have expected to have been 60-65th so again not bad.

I’m pretty certain that there would have been a lot more than 47 riders with better PB’s than myself in that race so today given my previous PB I’d outperformed, when I think about it like that then it’s not too bad a day, especially when the field had domestic pro’s and riders with far more experience than myself. It’s good to measure where you are at though, I’m way down the pecking order but improving and that’s the important bit.

Massive thanks to Scott and all the team, I hope the promotion spreads the message a bit more and you have every success going forward.

 

Wheely Windy – The Nev Crane Memorial

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.

No reward

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.

Finally

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.

Stat overview

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.

Results

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.

Results

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.

2016 Sleaford Wheelers Nev Crane Memorial %2725%27doc

 

Windyhellfire on the O10/3 – Joint 8th

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.

Whoooooooosh

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

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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

Home Run

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.

Comp times

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.

Results board

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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.

Not quite the Tour de France – Midweek Club 25

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.

Out leg

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

To the turn

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.

Home leg

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

return leg.PNG

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.

Final blast

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.

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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.

Thanks

 

Cuckney at the double – 2UP time trial

After Tuesday’s course PB and a couple of good training sessions my attention soon turned to my next race, a 2Up TT on the same course with my mate and fellow Team Bottrill rider Simon Travell. Simon and I are both coached by Dan and are totally familiar with each other’s capabilities on the bike, this makes a 2Up a little less of a step into the unknown as to how things will go and the way in which we planned to race. When you think of a 2UP you automatically think you’ll rocket down the course and blitz any time you can do on your own, this is potentially the case, but doing a 2Up is quite different to a solo effort. To go faster, you’ll need to make the changes slick and each rider needs to ensure they don’t put the other one into the red zone by riding too hard at certain points, the aim is to get both riders to the finish line in the quickest time, not to beat each other up in the process.

Build up

Prior to the race I’d done my typical bit of over analysis and looked at the pairings that would be racing, in total there would be 27 teams racing, looking at individual times using the CTT website I’d counted 7 teams that would most likely be faster, 7 teams around the same pace and the rest potentially slower. I’d predicted we’d come 8th, time wise it was hard to say due to the potential of bad weather, but as a guide I’d done 21:58 solo so I would have thought something around 21:15 might be possible, but as mentioned that would be reliant on a number of factors.

Race Time

Having missed the opportunity for a practice run on Tuesday we both arrived in plenty of time to do an extended warm up, so we kitted up and set off. Looking at the sky above, there was A LOT of dark clouds around, a soaking seemed inevitable but after a few brief stops we did about 8 miles together and all seemed well as we came back to race HQ. Our start time was 14:20, after a few chats with some of the AMAC boys we made our way up the hill, eventually rolling to the start line with a few minutes to spare. Some familiar faces from B&DCC were on starting duty including Craig Devonshire and Malc and before too long both of us were blasting down the hill in pursuit of a quick time.

The out leg

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As we passed both (well marshalled) cross roads, I heard Simon shout something like “we are alive” as we began the climb up the other side, first job complete. The run to the turn is 5.5 miles, we had a slight tailwind helping us and we soon got into a good rhythm, alternating roughly every 45 seconds. The changes felt pretty good, we passed close together and there was no surging or waiting needed. Every time I looked down through my legs I saw Simon’s wheel close to mine (wahey!) and when I was on the rear I felt like I’d been close too, I certainly managed to get some good recoveries in anyway, no doubt helped by the fact Simon seemed to ride his bike arrow straight, I hoped I was doing the same. I had a slight bum clenching moment when a car passed us a little too closely but other than that we were well on track as we averaged close to 29mph, 0.5mph quicker than I’d gone solo on Tuesday. At 5 miles you hit the hit the hill that signals the turn is fast approaching, being slightly better on the inclines I’d purposely got on the front to help us up the hill, this worked ok, the issue we had was another pairing that we had caught was only a few metres in front of us at this point, this would make the already fiddly turn an even greater challenge.

With Simon slightly behind me and a car approaching from the right my plan was to get around the turn then slow a bit  if needed around the other side, I swung wide overtook the other 2 riders taking a brief glance to see where my partner was, he looked to be carrying good speed around the bend and whilst we still had the other 2 riders in between us it looked like we’d be back together ready to attack the home leg. Well, we would have been if instead of those two guys moving out the way they hadn’t decided to try and jump on my wheel, this was really bad form from them and it meant Simon had to really battle to pass them and put in extra effort to get back up behind me. I didn’t want to slow too much and risk my body thinking the pain was over, on reflection maybe I should have knocked it back a fraction more but regardless it was a bit annoying that this team had interfered with our race.

After dropping down the hill we soon got back into rhythm, the extra effort Simon had put in meant we had to just peg it back momentarily and I did a double turn to help. This worked and then each time Simon was back on the front I got my recovery in to allow us push on once more. Approaching the garden centre there were a number of cars pulling in and out but with marshals there they were at least alerted to our presence, a comforting feeling when you’re making yourself as small as possible doing around 29mph. Safely through we now started to wind it up for the finish.

Almost at the finish

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Naturally having been able to take lots of recoveries (relative term, you still have to pedal bloody hard) behind Simon I was feeling much stronger at this point than when solo on Tuesday, my memory is a little unclear but I think we both communicated that it was now time to go full gas for the finish. At this point I was really enjoying the team effort we’d put in, the buzz helped to take a fraction of the sting out the legs as we came around the final section and saw the finish line in sight. I was completely turning myself inside out at this point as Simon came up on my right so we could cross the line together, as we crossed the line I hit the stop button, 21:26, first emotion was I’ll take that so pretty happy. We had a few private words about the race but all in all I think we’d both enjoyed it, it was then all about getting back to HQ and seeing how we’d done.

Looking back over the data at the last 2 miles I’d put out 296W, meaning we had averaged  28.9mph for that section which was 3mph quicker than I did solo, proving that we had worked well as we were able keep pushing to the line rather than fading. The last mile we both did 293W, which again shows the joint effort that had gone in to achieving the time we did.

Back at HQ we looked at the laptop to see the times coming in, I think at this point we were in 4th, Joel and Xavi who had a practice run in the week were in 2nd with a 20:39. The other AMAC team of Bishop and Moore pipped us by 1s doing a 21:26 to our amended 21:27. Roughly 20 minutes later all the times were in, we’d ended up in 8th (as a I predicted..) the winners doing a 20:14. It would have been nice to get that 7th, but all in all a great effort between the both of us. Like ourselves most pairings all seemed to have a story that cost them a few seconds but that’s time trialling for you I guess.

A big thanks to the organisers and helpers from B&DCC, any chance of another one before the season ends?