A Tale of Two Time Trial Courses

This weekend I’ve ridden two 25M time trials.  The first, on Saturday, was in Cheshire on J2/9

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J2/9

As you can see it is a “circular” course on single carriageway roads, with riders doing about 1.5 laps.  According to my software the total ascent in 25 miles is 263 feet, which is all but flat. It’s funny but there are bits of it that don’t feel flat – Seven Sisters Lane and Twemlow Lane but I guess they pretty much are.  The road surfaces are, frankly, shockingly bad, sucking any momentum out of you, and there are a number of technical twists, turns and a roundabout to negotiate.  Yesterday it rained incessantly until about an hour before the start.  That led to lots of standing water on the poor roads so it was nearly delayed/cancelled, but as it was it turned out to be a nice day.  There was no wind to speak of – rare for this course – and the water had all but gone.

On Sunday I rode V236/1 over near Thirsk in Yorkshire

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V236/1

This is the first time I’ve ridden this, and it’s essentially two laps of a dual carriageway course on the A168/A19. It’s not that technical apart from the start and turns at the end of each lap.  The surface was perfect – brand new smooth-rolling tarmac.  My software suggests 362 feet of ascent – again, not a lot but 100 feet more than J2/9.  The start was delayed due to mist, but once it cleared it was again another perfect day with little or no wind.

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J2/9 power analysis

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V236/1 power analysis

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J2/9 power zones

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V236/1 power zones

The difference in the courses is highlighted in my power files above.  My average power across each ride was virtually identical.  In fact, on the hillier V236/1 I used slightly less power for a time that was 3 minutes quicker!  If we drill into though and look at the analysis for V236/1 you can see that I was able to stay in my threshold zone and VO2Max zone for 65% of the ride versus 47% for J2/9.  The technical nature of J2/9 means that you lose momentum and then try to work harder to get back, giving a wider power distribution than the one on V236/1, where I was able to get into a rhythm. It also feels more tiring – my average HR on J2/9 being 175bpm versus the 171bpm on V236/1.

I still have a lot of work to do on pacing and getting into the threshold zone and staying there, but courses like V236/1 make that a lot easier.

Bowland 200 Audax

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Random pictures from today’s hill-fest!  Started off in the drizzle, finished in the sun.  Plenty of wind about too!

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http://overthehill.smugmug.com/Cycling/Bowland-200/

Ride stats : 124 miles in 8hrs 9mins at 15.2mph average speed (max speed 43.9mph!).  11,965ft of climbing. 5,375kcals of energy used.  Average HR 131bpm

Strava ride here

June Roundup

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Highlight of the month was, of course, the trip to the Alps.  That aside it’s been a reasonably quiet month with a couple of TT’s either side of that trip

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Alps heatmap

Anyway, here are the stats for the month (ytd in brackets)

575 miles (3,388 miles)

1d 10hrs 40mins ride time (8d 9hrs 31mins)

16.6mph average speed (16.8mph)

37,514ft ascent (165,749ft)

21,966 kcals energy (129,855 kcals)

128bpm average HR (130bpm)

 

First 100 Mile Time Trial

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When the start sheet for this ride arrived I looked at the course instructions and they looked pretty complicated, including 3 right turns off the A50 at Toft.  Then, earlier this week, I was talking to another TT-er who casually pointed out this was an awful course.  Having just about got used to 50 milers I know that at the end my saddle contact points are usually sore (a posh way of saying red raw clacker), and my neck and shoulders really hurt.  On top of that I was riding self-supported – whereas everyone else seemed to have support to provide bottles and food at the feedstation.  So I wasn’t especially looking forward to my first 100 mile TT it’s fair to say!

I usually turn up early at TT’s – it allows me time to get ready in a relaxed fashion – and also to get ready mentally.  Anyway, today I was running late and as I was driving down the A50 at Toft I noticed workmen preparing to paint the roads – when I signed on I was told that the course had already been changed due to other roadworks elsewhere.  The roads on the cheshire J courses also appear to have been “resurfaced” with that awful gravel they just tip out and leave to be flattened by passing traffic – an utterly rubbish surface.

I was running with a litre bottle of energy drink between my tri-bars and a half-litre bottle of caffeine energy drink on the seatpost.  Foodwise I had cut 4 energy bars into bitesize chunks and stuffed them up the sleeves of my skinsuit, with 4 gels (1 caffeine) up the legs.

My target was 4hrs and 15 minutes which meant I needed 10 mile laps of around 25:30.  As it was I got my pacing pretty much spot-on until around 60 miles when it started to unravel pretty badly!

The course started on the B5081 and then turned left at the crossroads into Byley Lane, then left onto the A50.  At Toft there was the right turn down a short road, round a roundabout at the end and then back down the A50 until Twemlow Lane, where a left turn took us up to the A535, and then up to Chelford roundabout and back.  Into Holmes Chapel and picking up the A50 again at the double roundabout that was basically one lap.  The course was essentially 3 and a half of those, finishing off Twemlow Lane.

The first 50 miles went broadly to plan, with splits of 25:45, 24:58, 24:14, 25:17 and 26:21.  At this point I’d been overtaken by a few very quick riders (and also re-overtaken at least one of them) but I’d made my way up the field overtaking a number of riders.  It felt like a very lumpy course, with some rolling bumps that were somewhat challenging, especially later on.  My neck and sholuders had started aching around 20 miles but that’s normal due to the position.  Having applied significant amounts of chamois cream my clacker was sore but manageable.  What I didn’t expect was my back to start hurting at around the 60 mile mark, and gradually get worse.  In fact, I took every opportunity to sit up off the tri-bars to try to straighten it – especially up the climbs where standing on the pedals helped.  The line painting team had a rolling traffic control system but luckily I was only caught once – it’s possible an unlucky rider could have been caught at least 6 times!

I managed to eat one and a half bars and all my gels during the ride, and my fluids lasted until near the end, despite me squirting a load of my half litre bottle fluids over my legs when trying to pour it into my tri-bars bottle.

I finished in a time of 4 hours, 20 minutes and 17 seconds – basically an average of 23.1mph.  I was surprised to see 1,770 feet of ascent recorded and 4,028kcals of energy used.  My average HR was about 161bpm.  Aerobically I had a bit left at the end, but my back was so sore I wasn’t able to make use of it.

Afterwards another rider told me it was the worst 100 course in the country.  Having no frame of reference I can only confirm it was very, very painful.

Alps 2014

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All photos in this gallery

Day 1 – Saturday – leg loosener into Bourg and back

17.3 miles, 1hr 9m, 1,140ft ascent, 14.9mph av speed, 565kcals, 112bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156536058

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Day 2 – Sunday – Col d’Ornon both sides

4 course lunch in a little village for 18 euros – brilliant!

44.8 miles, 2hr 55m, 4,795ft ascent, 15.3mph av speed, 1,197kcals, 104bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156536068

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Day 3 – Monday - La Brerarde

44 miles, 3hr 01m, 4,056ft ascent, 14.5mph av speed, 1,612kcals, 117bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156536066

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Day 4 - Tuesday - Col du Lauteret

Weather dropped 15 degrees in a matter of hours.  Descent off the mountain in freezing rain/sleet was the coldest and most scared I’ve ever been on a bike!

50.7 miles, 3hr 36m, 4,919ft ascent, 14.1mph av speed, 1,934kcals, 118bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156536067

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Day 5 – Wednesday – off the bike so climbed a mountain (obviously!)

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When you climb a mountain you wear the appropriate gear…

Day 6 - Thursday - Alpe d’Huez and Col de Saronne

Attempt to ride Alpe d’Huez to the Tour de France finish in under an hour – just failed – 60m 55s!

49 miles, 3hr 52m, 7,206ft ascent, 12.7mph av speed, 2,624kcals, 133bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156535690

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Check out my very abrupt stop/evasive manoeuvre at 56:16!

Day 7 - Friday - Col du Lauteret and Galibier

Lovely day – 3rd time lucky up Galibier and well worth it – what a climb and what a view!

68.5 miles, 4hr 48m, 7,816ft ascent, 14.2mph av speed, 3,072kcals, 129bpm av HR

http://app.strava.com/activities/156536080

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Check out the cheeky ginger marmotte at the roadside at 7:40.  Also at 15:40 I got a rather big shock given where I was!

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May Roundup

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My excellent early season TT form, very evident during April, was brought back down to earth a bit during May.  I suspect it had something to do with damaging my knee at the end of April on the Red Rose audax, which meant I spent some of the month trying to nurse it back to health and it still isn’t quite right.  It wasn’t all bad though, with new PB’s at 10 mile and 25 mile during the month, and another cheque for £7 continuing my professional career!

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Don’t spend it all at once

I also did a bit of training for the alps trip which is fast approaching, with a couple of 200k rides over some hills, including some in Yorkshire that might feature in a certain French race later in the summer!  However, I haven’t done as much climbing training as I have for the past two years, with most of my riding being fast and flat, so the alps may be slightly interesting!

Monthly Stats (ytd in brackets)

674 miles (2,820)

1d 13hrs 53m (6d 23hrs 10m)

17.8mph average (16.9mph)

28,806ft ascent (128,235ft)

24,711 kcals energy (108,119kcals)

131bpm average HR (131bpm)

Dales Delight 2014

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The Dales Delight audax is a fantastic rollercoaster ride through Lancashire, the Yorkshire Dales, a bit of Cumbria and back again.  It’s the 3rd time I’ve done this and it never fails to disappoint as you are transported through some of the most stunning scenery in the country.  Even wet and cold weather didn’t put a dampener on things.

It has some absolutely leg-shattering climbs too.  If you discount the “rolling” start (audax code for hilly) then the first real climb comes after a descent under a Settle-Carlisle viaduct, down a valley and back up the Coal Road – starts off steep and keeps going!

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Viaduct

Then there’s the climb over Swaledale after the first control – something I’d forgotten about and which is another long and challenging climb, starting steep and then flattening but still going up.  The descent into Thwaite to the second control is not the best of the day but still exhilarating enough.

From the control it’s straight up Buttertubs North side – which I’m told is opposite to the Tour de France route.

The descent is fast and furious – and check out the cyclist coming up the other side at 04:17 – I don’t know who was more surprised, him or me!

Past the farmers fields advertising parking space for when the Tour comes and into Hawes, the route is then out and up Fleet Moss.  This is a challenging climb because the wind whistles down and you can see it in the distance, mentally challenging you and sapping the will from your legs

The descent from Fleet Moss takes you onto one of my favourite roads in the country, running alongside the Ribble I think.

After Litton, there is one more big climb – in the rain and wind – note the old style 1 in 6 sign at the start!

Followed by a difficult and dodgy descent!

Ride Stats : 126 miles in 8hrs 10mins at 15.4mph average.  Total ascent 10,067ft, energy used 5,240kcals.  Average HR 130bpm

Strava ride here

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