VTTA London 10 TT (f11/10)

7 May

With the disappointing race of Saturday behind me, and a good pre race ride, I felt up for this TT. The weather was amazing, and the conditions according to those in the know were almost as good as it gets. The course is called F11/10 which is renowned as being one of the fastest 10 mile TT courses in the South, its on the A41 near Tring, and despite its A grade, it isn’t really that busy. The course is fast because it has a big hill in it that you don’t have to go back up, it does have an extra turn however to try and mitigate the ski slope. The first two miles from my recce in the car were going to be a struggle as the surface is really not very good, but after the first turn it gets much better and is pretty smooth the whole way to the end, thankfully the hill was free of hole!

This was a fairly important event to me as it was one of the few times I had a spare day to do a fast 10 mile time in good weather. What’s more was that the club TT record holder Steve Irwin was riding. Steve has dominated the club records in his time with the club, and holds every distance short of the ultra long distance stuff (12 hr etc). In fact nobody has even really come close to challenging him in the last two seasons, and this is down to a few reasons really – A ) because he is bloody fast, and B) because the others with potential to challenge him had not really followed it up for various reasons, and really I suppose none of those few had gone the whole hog with the bike, pointy hat etc etc. But as you will know I obviously did, and bought most of it from the man himself.

Today was 140 riders, and I was off number 12. Which was good and bad, good that I would be at home before the last guys went off, bad because I’d be at home when all the fast times were coming in. Also no matter how you word it, when you say to the event organizer that should your time end up being on of the fastest and would it be possible to post the prize – you sound like a helmet – so for those reasons I’d rather have gone off a bit later, but I should imagine that won’t be such an issue going forward.

I started warming up, not that I needed to as my garmin was reading 25 deg! Being one of the first off I made my way up there and tried to keep cool. In my head I had worked out the average speed I needed to be at to 1. Go under 20 mins (over 30mph avg) and 2. Break the club record (19.20 set by Steve on v718 last year) which was 31.1 mph avg. I lined up and off I went, the first mile and a half are horrible, ruts and holes everywhere on the left hand side of the lane, I was actually hopping the front wheel every time to avoid hitting it with full impact and pinch flatting, this was almost certainly not the fastest way through, but my avg speed was still good, so at this point I wasn’t too bothered, I got through the first turn without being held up, and I was off down the other side, road still poor but certainly better, and then suddenly it all changes, the road becomes smooth. At this point you have a slight drag up past the finish before the hill, I looked down and my average was 29.5 mph, so I knew I was going well, I hit the downhill and quickly see why its a fast course…Before I know it I’m doing over 40 mph, things are starting to get a bit spinny as I only have a 53-11, then 45mph, and then I see 48mph on the speedo, which looking back at the data had me at 122 rpm, in the extensions, which is not ideal as that sort of cadence creates movement which is the last thing you want at nearly 50 mph. As the hills starts to shallow I settle back into my rhythm and keep it at high speed the whole way to the turn, 6 minutes/3.5 miles at 35mph infact, which feels amazing when you’re doing it. I get to the second turn and my average is 32mph annoyingly I get stuck behind a van who slows me down, but only by a couple of seconds.

I know I am going well, I look down and can see that there is only 2 miles or so left, I start really digging in. But then the power meter cuts out (it has been doing it all race, probably due to the taped on magnet getting knocked about by the surface) again, and instead of back-peddling to try and re-engage it like I had done earlier on I just ignored it and pushed as hard as I could, it was really hurting at this point, I looked down and saw 18 mins, power was back and all I could see was a speed dipping below 30 and 400w, I dug in as hard as I could which was only around 400, it was all I could do, and the last 4 minutes looking at the file were at around 400w, there was a faint hope of doing an 18 but I could see the finish in the distance and knew I wouldn’t be able to make 18, but I was on for beating the club record, so I pushed and pushed and crossed the line in 19.13, shaving 7 secs from Steve’s existing record, I felt horrendous, and my spit was like glue, I put it in the smallest gear I had straight away and crawled back to the HQ.

I did catch up with him before I left, he said he was at least glad to have a carrot, it was about 2 hours later that I got the tweet – he had done 18.58 to win the event and lower the club record again – a herculean effort, and I think helped by the fact I had done the time I had, he said he dug very deep. Clearly I didn’t dig deep enough as I went out and did a few miles when I got home 😉

The meter was messing about but having taken out the drop outs it looks like I did around my usual 20 min power, which is a bit disappointing because I’d done 370 for 21 mins, I’d hoped I could eeek out a bit more for 2 mins less, but the hill does effect that. I will try this course again with a 56t ring and ride nearer the middle on the first bit, I don’t know if I will beat Steve’s time, but I am confident there are more seconds to come off my time. I finished in 4th with 3rd going 1 sec faster, and 2nd going 7 secs faster. All said and done I’m still pleased, this is my 5th TT on the TT bike I think, and I’ve done less than 130 miles on it in total with a few hours on the turbo – there will be more I can do to the position so the tweaking will continue and obviously as the season goes on I hope to be knocking out a bit more power too, so maybe the new goal should be an 18…

http://app.strava.com/activities/52702619

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