Back in January, or possibly given my eager state over last winter – even December, I set a few goals. They losely were split half and half between road racing and time trialing. Being honest the road racing goals were optimistic, and I’ll be honest I have fallen short by some distance in those. The best I’ve done in a Nat b road race has been 10th, although I’ve been top five in a few nat b crits, and I’ll probably just about hold on to my 1st cat license this year vs my targets which were to win a nat b race and to see if I could get to elite.
Anyway, I won’t bother giving too much texture on the shortcomings and reasoning for that here, I’ll save that for a boring October morning where I’ll summarise everything in the last year or so, including perhaps giving a bit of feedback on my coaching from RST and Xavier Disley, as I know spending out money on this sort of thing is always something people are interested to hear about for their own benefit and decision on perhaps making that move.
Back on the goals then, half of them were time trial related, so far this year I’ve accomplished all of the goals I set myself in the TT side of things, the only exception was the 10 mile club record, and for various reasons that will now be very hard to obtain. However this weekend gone was my second attempt at the blue ribband (or so they say) event of the TT world, the 25 mile distance! As you may remember from a couple of months back I was on course to accomplish my goal time of sub 50 minutes, and was likely also on to break the club record of 49.20, but I went the wrong way on the course and messed it all up!! So it did take me a while to calm down and consider another attempt.
For 25 mile time trials, if you’re after a quick time then there are a few options, two of which involved riding on fairly busy roads, including the last attempt I had at Etwall. However the 3rd option is the R25/3L course in Wales. Now its quick because it has a downhill in it, and as such this is where most of the very quick times from the very quick riders have been set. Its a nice setting for a time trial, in a Welsh Valley near Neath. Not exactly on the doorstep of Surbiton to be honest, a 3 hour drive away, but I was willing to have one last tilt and spend 6 hours of my life driving just so I could ride a bike for hopefully 48 or 49 minutes.
The week leading up to was fairly unremarkable, it followed my usual format infact, bit of training, too much booze on Thursday night, and the obligatory cleanse on Friday and Saturday! I made the drive up there and got up there in good time, my start time was pretty early doors considering I came in on a fairly average time of 51.11 as a PB, so I was off number 51 of 150. Usually in TT’s I’m near the end of the field, but this particular event had attracted a very good standard of rider. Matt Bottrill was riding and going to attempt to better the competition record of 45.46 previously set by Irishman Michael Hutchinson (who was also riding). Other riders who I would be up against at the sharp end were Blake Pond who beat me by a margin in the Nat 10 to come 8th, Adam Gascoigne who was just 2 seconds back on my at the Nat 10. And also former Olympic Rower Nick English who did the exact same time as me at the Nat 10.
The plan was to go off and keep it steady down the slope up to the turn, and then nail it on the last 9 miles home which was uphill and into a headwind (very gentle uphill and very low wind, but it would hurt the speed for sure). I warmed up, necked a Monster Rehab or whatever the hell its called, the one that isn’t fizzy, and off I went. As predicted the first half was indeed very fast. I got to the turn at mile 15 with an average speed of 33.5 mph..! Got round the overly complex turn thanks to the marshalls and set about killing myself on the way back. Managed over 20w more power for the second half to the first, which certainly did help. I knew when I was watching people for 4 or 5 minutes that I was going well, I could see the final turn off in sight, there was a brief time where I thought my time might begin with 47, but the last slog put paid to that and I crossed the line in 48.14. Which bettered the last club record by 1 minute 6 seconds. This also makes me the (I think) 20th or 21st fastest rider over 25 miles of all time according to the all time fastest list on the Timetrial forum.
Back to the HQ for a bit of waiting around, there was a fair time where my name was on the board as fastest rider, beating Nick and Adam by around a minute or so, which pleased me given how close they were to me in the Nat 10. Eventually the last times came through, Blake Pond had beaten me by around 20 seconds, Hutch had done a long 46 so around 1 min 20 better than me, and eventually the flying postman came in with a competition record breaking time of 45.43, so I was in 4th spot, which pleased me given the field. Great ride my Bottrill, pleased he’s had the season he probably deserves, that means he is nat champ over 10,25,50 miles, and has set comp records in all but the 10 (thanks to that pesky Alex Dowsett.
That rounds off my year of time trials most likely, all that is left are a couple of road races, and a crit this weekend to hopefully get some points to retain 1st category. The following week is the Handicap Championships which I managed 3rd in last year so hopefully I can do well there again.