Archive | September, 2014

25 miles in 48 minutes.

10 Sep

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.

http://www.strava.com/activities/191236908

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National 10 Champs

2 Sep

After Hillingdon and the 19 on the club course the other week, I was feeling pretty confident about one of my big goals for the season, which was the CTT National 10 mile Champs.

I’ve ridden a fair few TT’s this year, and a slight tweak in position has meant I’ve gone pretty well, winning a fair few and breaking course bests most of the time I’ve been riding. The nationals this year was perhaps different to many others, mainly because it was being held on a slight variant of the V718 course, which is widely known as the fastest 10 course in the country. Many many people have gone there and found they went a lot quicker than their previous best. I’d not ridden it before, mainly as it was so far away (4-5 hour drive). But given this was the nationals, and it could be a chance to pb I thought it was worth a trip up there.

To make the trip a bit more of an occasion that just 8 hours in a car we went up to York on the Friday, staying till Monday, a nice town to visit, plenty to see and do. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking up the tower in the Minster before a race! The day of the TT rolled round and I was keen to get there early to get a lay of the land, I got there some 3 hours before my start having driven the course to make sure I knew it.

My goal was to be top 15, with a stretch goal of top 10, I knew this would be a big ask, given it was on this course it attracted the highest quality field that any event has seen I think. The event closed on a mid 20, which means that the slowest riders PB that was riding was a mid 20, i.e. over 28mph avg ten mile time trial. And there were 150 riders, so that gives you an idea of the general standard. To further give perspective, in my own club which has a considerable amount of riders (500 or so ) only the top 10 or so ten mile times of ALL TIME dating right back to 1995 for one of the oldest times (i.e. decades of time trials), one of being me, would have got a ride in this event. So it was sort of a ‘who’s who’ of the UK TT scene. And the only notable exception was probably Dowsett or Wiggins.

At the sharp end it would likely be between 10 times champion, Michael Hutchinson, young pro, national road and TT champ of Ireland Ryan Mullen – An Post team, and of course the flying postman that is Matt Bottrill!

Other contenders for the podium would be former KOM winner in the Tour of Britain Russ Hampton (who battered me a month or two back), former National HC champion Matt Clinton who is somewhat the all-rounder smashing course records left right and center while still being pretty handy on a climb, Andy Jackson who riding a futuristic looking Falco bike has been flying this year doing numerous 18 minute times and generally going very quickly at any distance he attempts. Beyond that there was the usual raft of talent, many of which had done the sub 19 and sub 50 for a 25 thing many times over. So to get top 15 or ten was going to be a tough one, but I always thought it was possible.

I was off nearish the end of the field and by the time I was heading out the standout time was Cambridge Uni and Kingston local Ed Bradbury with 18.15. Lopping a minute or more off his PB, remarkable stuff, he should go on to be a VERY handy road rider with his light frame and big engine, watch this space. I got to the start and wait to be set off. There could be no denying that I had ‘tapered’ for this event, and I felt pretty fresh (despite the ache in my right calf from the stairs to the tower, but it felt fine on the bike), the idea was to pace the ride well, up the tempo near certain parts of the course and then totally destroy myself on the last mile after the final turn.

As I headed down the sliproad I felt good, I had in the back of my mind not to go too hard, but 380-390w felt so easy so early, so I pushed on with caution, it was a quick day, I was at 32-34mph at all times on the way out. I came to the turn with an average speed of just shy of 33mph, up the slip road, round the double roundabout without losing too much speed, I felt good. There was now a shortish stretch of slight drag before the final dogleg onto the last mile, I was really pushing on now, and was holding around 390-400w up the slight drag, I got to within sight of the dogleg and the average was still looking good, I was fairly sure I was at least going to do an 18 minute time which was a goal too.

I got to eh dogleg and noticed to my horror a caravan and a car behind it were coming round at snails pace, I slowed down, and was just behind the car, who thankfully moved over to let me up the inside, the caravan however crawled for a bit before deciding it was turning right. I was pretty pissed off, but nothing you can do, it probably didn’t cost me much time. And actually it spurred me on to really drill the last section. And I did. I was in fact joint fastest over the last 1 mile with Ed Bradbury (of who is on Strava, which includes most of the riders). I stopped the clock in 18.46, which I was pleased with but knew would be a fairly middling time given Ed had done 18.15!

I got back to the HQ and the long wait continued, the times started to come in, as the tail-end of the field came in I was nudged out of the top 10, and slowly but surely started slipping towards the top 15, then Steve Irwin came in and had beaten me by one second haha! He took 15th in the end, and I was 16th. To be honest I was initially a bit annoyed, I’d been beating Steve by some margin all year, but I think likely on less flat and fast courses than this, so perhaps his superior aerodynamics really showed themselves today in what was a great ride on the back of his 18.19 last week!

I’d only have needed to find around 16 seconds to move from 16th to 8th, due to the closeness of the field, 16 seconds on a course like that is probably not all that much pending the traffic you get come by you, without the momentary caravan hold up, and a few more vehicles I think I’d have been in spitting distance, which really is all I can ask for at this point. Beyond 8th the class begand to shine and the times were a fair bit quicker, 17.40 took the win for Bottrill, with Mullen just 2 seconds back for Silver, and Vet Hutchinson came in with 17.53 to take the Bronze. Russ Hampton beat me by almost the exact same margin as he did at Bentley to take 4th with a stonking 17.58. Most people class doing a 19 as the golden stamp of ten mile time trialing, but in this event doing a 19 would have got you 86th place. No doubt this course was quick, but it wasn’t as quick as the regular version, I think the times speak for themselves, the scene has come on and the talent is exceptional.

Goals for next year I am unsure of, but I think I can improve on this, the road stuff will still be a focus next year, I think with a few tweaks, a bit more power, I can cement myself into that top 10 level. Maybe I should be happy with my ride, but part of what keeps me motivated is always seeking improvement.

http://www.strava.com/activities/187943725

Hillingdon

2 Sep

I won’t go on for too long about this, it was just a 1 hour crit afterall. However it was slightly noteable as I felt like I rode better than usual, and maybe a sign of racing a bit smarter than I previously have.

I actually didn’t expect there to be much of a field as there was another few larger races the following day. But on arrival I noticed a couple of lads from Pedalheaven, Rob Moore and rapid finisher Lewis Atkins who has got the better of me in two other occasions in the last year in a sprint. Also Wouter Sybrandy who is fast on the road to recovery after his crash in the TOB some time back, Lawrence Carpenter of Catford, Chris Morrison from Cadence, a couple of the CSE racing lot, and a load of other clubs with ones and twos. I think the total field was around 35 riders, perhaps a bit more. But clearly not short of strong riders, so I was skeptical of my chances a bit.

We got off to a quick start and it was obvious that this was not going to stay together, a few attacks came and went, I followed all the ones I thought looked good. Then about 20 mins in a few of us went away, it was initially3 or so riders, but soon Lewis and Rob came over, and we were 7 I think. We worked fairly well (with a few people dropping turns/pace here and there) and kept it going for the next 40 or so minutes, eventually we had a minute gap on the bunch so it was going to be between us. A few attacks started to happen at this point, literally everyone had a go at some point I think, I chased over to Wouter on one occasion and thought we might get away with Lewis in tow, but no. I then attacked with 4 to go, Lewis again came with but to no avail, Lawrence then had a dig but was brought back with 3 to go. Eventually it came to the last lap, Rob Moore led it out, I was 4th wheel behind Wouter with Lewis in Rob’s wheel, onto the final straight I waited for Lewis to launch and when he did I was hot in pursuit, I passed Wouter, but was never gaining or losing ground on Lewis and he took the win and me 2nd. I think next time I am in that situation I will jump first, that is likely my only shot at beating him in a sprint. I think I only need 4 points more to retain first category, which is something I would like to do, got a few races left so shouldn’t be an issue really, that said I have kept an eye on the October races just incase it doesn’t pan out, I’ve had to miss a few races to concentrate on TT’s in Aug/Sept so we’ll see!

http://app.strava.com/activities/184341720