Sixth Season Racing…

10 Jan

Been a little while since an update, late September even. Over the time that has passed I have a week or two of not doing anything all that specific in Oct, just riding about ‘enjoying’ Autumn. Given I ride to work a fair bit I don’t really like having too long off the bike, get a bit itchy, and gain weight quick plus I resent giving SW trains/TFL £12 a day to get to work so there’s not really much downtime. I’ve never found that cycling at this level is mentally taxing like so many seem to claim, but I can understand for those that starve themselves for Hill Climbs, or don’t drink during the season (mental) that it must be a nice release to get to this time of year.

There’s only really one event between Oct and Feb that I do which is the FCC Xmas ten down on the Bentley course. I find it gives me some focus, keeps me vaguely concentrated on training and not eating/drinking everything in sight, and of course gives me a good yardstick each season, I’ve generally managed to find a few extra watts each year, so hope that doesn’t stop anytime soon. It often gets quite a good field considering its held a week before Christmas on a fairly average course in the grand scheme, and this year no exception. Winning times have changed considerably since I first did it 4 years ago. In fact, I have been 2nd every single year I’ve done it, losing to various folks such as Adam Topham, Justyn Cannon and James Boyman. The first time round this event could be won with a longish 20, the second time you’d have to do an ok 19 to beat Tops, and more recently you’d have had to have done an 18 to beat a flying James Boyman (though it was quite warm that year, all our times were better than usual, but nobody was even close to James who did 19:08). This year there was plenty of competition that were new to the event which was nice, in fact, I would say the best field ever in terms of depth, probably 4-5 riders who are 18 min level on a decent course, pretty rare for any 10, let alone this one.

I thought my main competition would come in the way of Pat Wright (clubmate), Pete Harrison, and Lewis Keightly and Jamie Pine, a few folks had said Pete was seriously quick, and indeed his PB on one of the local quick courses last summer was very very similar to mine, so I knew I’d have to do a ride to be in the running. I’d felt pretty good on the bike despite the predictable uplift in food/drink intake I was going quite well, and crucially, not getting ill! I’d felt like I could probably do about 400w without being too cautious about it and set out with that in mind. I like the cool weather, and 7 deg and fog was just what I needed to get the legs working properly without overheating… Wind was low which really helps on this course, I got to the turn at over 30mph avg and 400w on the nose. Looking good I thought, though I was conscious of the steamy visor costing me a bit of time as I’d have to look up to see..! With the last few miles to go which is generally really quick, things were looking good, I was thinking I’d manage an 18…as ever, time slipped away from me and I crossed the line in 19:10 (still about as fast as I’ve ever gone on this course in any weather) and managed to average 405w, which was pretty decent, showing I’m closing the gap to roadbike a bit, or just not trying hard enough on road-bike of course where I think 420w might be possible for 20 mins.

I got back into the Hall to see a raft of 19’s, I think the top 5 may have all done 19’s in fact, scanning the startsheet for Pete I saw that we’d done the exact same time! Not the first time its happened of course, but quite unusual over 20 minutes with numerous points of hold up and what not. Anyway, we both got £50 for our troubles, so all good on that front, we’d narrowly lost the team (wrongly I think) to his team. On post ride analysis it would turn out that had I managed to hold the position I had been doing earlier in the year I would have snuck under with about 18.55 – but as with all things, you can always wonder what if…

I’m quite looking forward to some of the early season events now, I’ve shed about 3.5kg which might help a touch on some of the hillier events, and help me get round the road races in better shape – I think I was very heavy at the Handicap Champs which I just about managed to win, maybe nearer 5kg more than I am as we speak, so hoping I can tell the difference when it goes uphill. I’ve been riding outside a lot more weather permitting, and generally getting in some good miles, with plenty of unpleasant terrain thrown in. First event will likely be the Kingston Wheelers sporting 14, and the day following is Redhill’s sporting 18, would love to have a double header of wins, but we’ll see. Before then I’ve got a few days in Gran Canaria hopefully getting a bit of sunshine. Then this year I’ve decided to go with the rest of the Paceline guys down to Calpe or nearby early March (like the rest of the amateur racing cyclist population it would seem) for a weeks riding there. Hoping to come back in alright shape and have some fun in road races and time trials. Going to try and win as many of both as I can!

Goals are kind of lose at this point, but there’s a couple I know I want to do :

19 min ten on a road bike

Do a 50m TT

18/48 – 10/25 on Bentley

Win Crystal Palace again

Top 10 a Nat b – might be tough with all the “pros” about and fewer races, but we’ll see

Help Paceline win a stage race, Tour of Sussex/May 3 day – think we’ve got a couple of new members so should have a decent line up for those events and some of the Nat b’s.

I’m sure I’ll think of others as I go, but that’ll do for now – should be pretty competitive I hope, watts up, weight down, got a bit more of a clue how to race than before – just have to hope I can start the year without issue. This time last year I destroyed my ankle with a sprain, I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that it took most of the year since to actually get it back to normal, so fingers crossed for a trouble free 4 weeks before the fun begins.

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