Archive | March, 2012

Dulwhich Paragon 2/3 – Bletchingley

31 Mar

An eventful week really. I was away last weekend, and after a good training ride on Saturday morning, my plan was to go away for two days to Cotswolds to relax, come back and do some good training and some commutes etc to get me ready for what would obviously be the hardest race I’ve entered. That was the plan…

What actually happened is I caught something whilst in the Wolds and didn’t sleep Saturday or Sunday night, and felt terrible till Tuesday, then the sleeping came back but my stiff neck, and kidney pain didn’t go away untill Yesterday really. I managed to ride in twice, and despite feeling ok, it was clear my neck wasn’t enjoying it, so not sure what virus it could have been that leaves you with aching kidneys and neck. Very odd.

Anyway, that’s the excuses out the way 😉 got to the course quite early, signed on etc etc, saw a couple of the other guys, two of which I know are fantastic climbers, and there’s plenty of names on the startlist that ring a bell too from results they have had and what not. The course is touted as one of, if not the toughest in the Surrey league, with one side of it being mostly downhill at 40mph + and the other having three nasty little climbs before a long drag back to the downhills again.

So we set off and by fiddling around with the garmin I find myself at the back of the pack from the start (idiot!) but make it back and am feeling OK by the time we come round to the climbs the first time, we go up the first which is just a short punchy thing, HR goes sky high, and seems not to come down for a while which is worrying, we go up the second and third and I’m feeling it, we actually stopped dead on the last climb on the first lap for some reason, and a gap opened up, so myself and 4/5 others had to get back on which actually was more effort than it should have been, this meant that when we were coming through the HQ after the first lap I was blowing, and was off the back by a few bikes, thankfully due to being fat and having a very aero bike I managed to get back on to the bunch  on the downhills (doing 50 mph in the process).

Second round up the hills and its apparent I’m not going to finish in the bunch, if at all, my back is cramping very badly and although my HR has settled, power to the pedals wasn’t coming due to the aching back. So I hope this is an after effect of this illness, otherwise its clear my position is totally wrong, but although I had some slight twinges on my last race, it was NOTHING like this. Think I might raise the bars a tiny bit to see what happens… Anyway, this time is the same, I fight hard to stay in touch, and I’m in touch (just) till we come up through the HQ up the long false flat (well, its a hill, no false about it!) and I can feel the power ebbing away and the group pulling ahead, I want to try and get back on but its not happening. I think possibly I can get back on on the downhill, but this time I had become too distant, and that, 20 miles in was the end of that. I then did a lap on my own, and even at a fairly sedate pace the aches are pretty bad, so instead of doing another couple of laps, as I really didn’t want to drive all the way out there to do 30 miles I had to cal it a day and rolled back into the HQ and drove home. Pretty pissed off as I’d like to think on a normal day I’d at least have had a bunch finish on that course (I’ll never win there, its not for sprinters, that’s for sure), but today wasn’t that day.

Some positives to take from it I guess were that I now know where Godstone Shell is, and they have fuel, but only at pumps 7/8…mums the word 😉

Next race is a 3rd only down in Petersfield Hants, nice course, 25% wall at the finish…joy, that’s next weekend, so will report back.

First Road Race – Kingston Wheelers 3rds

11 Mar

My first road race! So I thought I’d write about it while I kill some time and have it vaguely fresh in my mind.

As you may know I bought a new bike last week so this week has been spent making sure it runs properly, and everything works out as the last thing I needed was a broken bike for the race. So with the last minute stuf finally done midweek (indexing, standard woe) I was ready to roll.

I’d done both chain-gang rides last week, and only commuted 3 times, also notably I didn’t play any football, I feel this helped keep my legs pretty fresh as I was going well on both the chain-gang sessions. I also hit an all time low weight of 81.9 kg (or 12.12 in on money), so it was looking positive for this weekend. Had to get up pretty early as although I’ve cycled to Dunsfold a few times, its actually quite a way from here, 30 miles or so.

Got down there with plenty of time to spare, made sure everything was ok, met all the guys from the club etc etc. The weather was absoloutley perfect, and at 1pm or so, its about as nice as I’ve seen it for cycling.

A sold out field started off, and the pace was pretty hot right from the get go. Obviously I have not raced on the road before and although I preferred it, there were still moments when you kind of wish the cars could be banned from the roads for a day 😉 but the marshals on the bikes and in the cars did a great job, really good.

So it was fairly nicely paced for the first 5 laps or so, a few people went, and I wasn’t well positioned to be honest, I couldn’t see how many were up the road, or even who they were. I noticed a few attempts by riders to bridge, both from my club and others. It got to about 2.5 laps to go, or around 15 miles to go, we’d ben racing for just over and hour and a half and I caught the odd glimpse of the group up the road, it had gotten quite large. I was pretty sure non of my team were in it, and I’ve overheard a few riders say that we wouldn’t catch them over the next half an hour, so that was it, I’d made my mind up that I was going to bridge the gap…

I went off the front hard not long before one of the slight downhill sections, I gained a gap straight away, then proceeded to go about getting over, now I knew this was going to be hard, but my HR data shows just how hard it was, I have a max of 194 according to my data, and for 7 minutes my HR was above 180, and for 6 of those it was above 185. So without using all these fancy online training tools, you can see that it was a BIG effort, and along the way I passed a few others, one of which got my wheel and I dragged him over too.

When I had got over to the bunch the bunch behind were out of sight most of the time, so I thought that most of the hard work had been done. I tried to work with some of the guys, and one of the La Fuga riders was helping out, but in the main I have to say I didn’t think most riders were interested in helping. I sat on the front for a bit, waved through, and nobody came, so I carried on, looked round and the bunch were in sight. So I think we stayed away for a total of 20-25 minutes, I have no doubts that if we had worked better together, or at all, we would have been a lot harder to catch.

So when we were caught I was conscious to stay near the front as I think it was on the last lap with about 5 miles to go. Jason came through and I got his wheel, we were probably in the top 12-15. We rode fast, and there were moments when I thought it could all go wrong. I lent on a guy that came into me at probably nearly 40 mph, its not as easy as Cav makes it look. Still, we got through ok, came down the fast section toward the hill, flying at this point, well over 30 mph…

We hit the hill and all I had in my mind was not to go too hard, as there was 200 meters or so on the top after the hill, I was spinning away, and then got boxed in as there were two cars on the other side of the road (annoying), I got to the top of the hill in probably the high teens, realized I’d done a bit more than I should have as my HR was already nearing the 190 mark again, so started sprinting, went past a few people, and lunged for the line!

Jason had come 2nd, a massive coup for him, as he had been riding well most of the day position wise, and obviously had done the hill perfectly, I came 9th, which I’m happy with given my race efforts, and another wheeler also came in the top 5. So I think we did really well. I’m looking forward to the next one already, sadly its not quite as flat, but the slopes today felt fine, and I was spinning away nicely, so I am interested to do a hilly course, its a 2/3 though, so I might be riding on my own 😉

Race stats –

51 miles – Avg HR of 165/ max 190 (shame I couldn’t eek out the other 4/5)  – avg sped 24 mph – max sped 41 mph