Archive | September, 2016

The last few weeks

24 Sep

It has been a while since I updated this blog, a combination of various factors, being very busy at work, not doing that many races, being shit in some of the races I did do, and a lack of enthusiasm to write about 3 months worth of cycling!

Anyway, as I watch Arsenal destroy Chelsea, now seems like a good time to recap. I’ve done a fair few TT’s, I’ve either won or come 2nd generally. Nothing that noteworthy, and I didn’t meet any of my course targets, which is a shame, but I think a few positional fails (changed saddle which put me in an odd place on the TT bike, cost me a lot of watts) and racing while not feeling great probably account for that. I was fairly pleased to win the Richmond Park TT again, getting ever closer to that course record, but it will require great weather I think. I did managed to get the better of Barney Purbrook who has been riding both very strongly, and very often this year to essentially go from nothing to elite in the space of 15 months, very impressive. Though hopping on a TT bike and being instantly very quick is impossible for just about anyone these days, its a long process. I did two road races, well, I pulled out of one as I thought it wasn’t safe, and I won the other one, which was actually last week, so that was nice. Will cover that in a bit more detail below.

I’ve thought more about what I want to do next season, gains and improvements are harder to come by after 5 or 6 seasons at it. And with more work, more socializing (some enforced, some through choice) those gains become even more remote, but I feel I’ve got stronger, and have still got some room to move in, so we will see. My general thoughts for next season are more of the same, a few road races here and there, I will see how I feel, I may enter a few more than this year. And some time trials, local stuff mostly.

National time trials are usually a fairly big part of the year for me, and in the run up to, the 25 was no exception, (I’d written the 10 off in my mind as somewhere I’d go and do a ride, but expect very little given the profile of the course) however as the day approached it was clear it would be a horrible day, the wind was extremely strong, and the road surface was shocking. Add to that the vast amount of traffic on the course and you’ve got a fairly unpleasant outing. I didn’t do a great ride, and only managed 345W, which is pathetic for me, especially given I have done 370w earlier in the season. Add the wind, and what seemed to be an odd patch weather wise where I seemed to lose a HUGE chunk of time to people in the last mile or so (like literally 5 places or more, all gone in the last mile) meant I finished the day around 20th – I actually cannot remember the final result such was my lack of care for the ride I produced. The wind was one thing, but the shite power was a cause for concern, I searched and searched, and eventually concluded that in swapping my saddle back I’d put it too low and the aches and pains in my legs after only a few miles were because I was far too low down. I’ve since adjusted and it seems to be better. The other thing is that I am sure I am far stronger in the cool weather. With most of my skin covered with skinsuit etc these days it means there is little respite from the warm, and I’ve had to drill extra holes in the helmet to try and combat that.

So with that all sorted I rocked up to the national 10 in a pretty care free mood, I knew full well that I would not be anywhere near the very sharp end as I’m too big and it had a dirty great climb in it! The reality of the situation was actually a bit different, oddly I didn’t lose that much time up the climb, and cost most of it on the way out, there were a few hold ups too. I managed just about the best power I’ve done, and given there is so much downhill where getting the numbers out is hard, I was pleased with the ride. I managed around 410W for the return leg (which I managed again the other day in some random open event) and put in an alright ride. I finished 14th, just a few seconds from a far better sounding 10th or so.

That road race win was not a huge surprise to me, as cocky as that sounds. The event was the Surrey League Handicap Champs, its a race I generally do well in, namely because its pretty flat, and has a finish that suits my 30-50 second power, which I’ve figured out is probably one of my strongest points, and I’ve used it to good effect before (when I won at palace for example), including the same race last year where I was 2nd, just mistimed it that day. The reason the result wasn’t a huge surprise was because the field wasn’t quite as strong as it has been in previous years. I can remember years where the scratch group is essentially pedalheaven and me. But this year there was only one elite rider, Chris McNamara, and a load of 2nds, a fair few 3rd, and then a few 4ths too. The general theme of the race is that you ride hard for the first 3rd, have a bit of a relax in the middle 3rd, then likely have to ride hard again at the end if in a break.

This year was no real exception, scratch group fairly small, myself, both Chris and his brother Simon who is very handy, and another young lad who had been getting some decent results in the league. One thing I did try to tell myself vs previous years was NOT to waste energy. So, it was somewhat stupid of me to come through in the group in mile 1 doing probably 150w more than everyone else, but I wanted to get the next group and then have an easier ride. So we drilled it along at a good pace, and it all fairly quickly came together with the odd group out front still. I had asked Chris on Facebook whether he was keen to try and animate things (that coming after he had beaten me in a time trial that day – git), I knew he’d be keen given he’s not a classic sprinter type and does have a big engine. I spoke to him in the race and we were wondering when was the best time to go, last year it was on the final lap, this year Chris reckoned going through the finish the penultimate time was a smarter move. I didn’t mind, I felt good, and was keen to get up the road, I mentioned it to Tom who was also riding, and Simon who knew the score. We got to the foot of the ramp and Chris smashed it up there, a couple of people joined him, and I was not far behind, trying to keep a lid on things knowing that the time to really make it count was over the top and up the false flat where usually most people were really suffering after the short climb.

Chris did his thing, and then I wanted to drive it home so came through pretty hard (too hard) and carried it on, put myself in the red zone to be fair, but it worked and we had made a decent selection. With both Chris and Si involved. Among other old hands who knew how to ride, and that if we were to stay away, you do have to ride. Anyway, we rode hard for the first lap and got around a 40 second gap and then people were slightly more cautious the second lap…Having messed up the finish last year, I was very keen to avoid a repeat episode. I knew I was the best sprinter in the group, and knew as long as I was positioned well that I could win. So when we slowed almost to a halt on the run in I was worried. However, soon another ride set a good pace for his teammate and we were hitting the ramp at a good pace, I waited and waited, and then one of the Pedalheaven chaps went, Chris went after him, and it all went mad. It was quite early, I didn’t want to go this early I remember thinking. But as they kicked it was either follow or lose, so I went with, and then kicked up the outside and just tried as hard as I could with cramping legs, I got a gap and rode to the finish (while furiously checking behind nobody was going to mug me of the win) and managed to get my hands in the air for a well deserved 10 points ha! Amusingly the numbers suggested it was a very similar effort to last year, around 300w avg for the 2hr15 and 360w NP.

So next things are a trip to Mallorca where hopefully I can catch the last of the sun. And then I’m debating doing a 3 race series fairly locally in Oct, I feel I could get a result or two at those. And then it will be time for the Xmas ten mile TT that I always enjoy. Probably going to build up a winter bike for the first time ever, last winter I really did put off riding outdoors if the weather was in any way unpleasant, which is fine if you are willing to do 12 hours on the turbo each week, but not fine if you cannot stomach it for more than 90 mins at a time!

I’ll probably update a few times over winter as the lack of sun begins to depress me and I need to remind myself of better times! The good news is that seemingly I’ve managed to find some extra watts, 400w for twenty mins was achieved many times this season, and actually I had a glimpse of my actual potential over an hour on the road bike in a suicide solo effort earlier in the year. I got caught eventually but had done 390W for 30 odd mins which would have been out of the question not too long ago, so just need to try and lean up a bit for next season if possible and see how I go.

Winning

Cheers

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