First 12 Hour Time Trial

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And we’re off!

I’d been worried about this for a quite a while and when the alarm went off at 3-15am and we drove towards Prees Heath in the dark, the pouring rain and swirling wind did nothing to ease my concerns.  By the time the sun had come up the rain had stopped but the wind remained, and would do so for the entire day.  More on that later.

Clubmates Pauline and Jeanette were also doing their first 12 hours with support from John and Paul.  Both kindly offered to provide me with some support on the Anfield loop as Liz and Kate would be stuck at Prees island, an offer gratefully received.

The route had three sections.  Three times round a 20 mile circuit between Prees and Espley, the only part I was familiar with.  Then up to six times round a 17.5 mile circuit from Espley (the Anfield loop) and then back to Prees and as many times round the 12.5 miles finishing loop as time allowed.  The link below shows the route I took

https://www.relive.cc/view/684279680

I’d prepared a whole set of instructions for Liz and Kate about what I’d need at each stop.  On the first 3 loops I was okay because I’d be back every 20 miles.  I’d then be on my own for 125 miles or so with the limited supplies I’d given John.  Fairly early into the ride the plans went out of the window because my needs were changing as the rode wore on.  Next time I do one of these I’ll have a much better idea of what to do.

The first three loops were okay – the wind was pretty tough coming back – but energy levels were high.  I changed my helmet after the third one because the first one was steaming up and hurting my neck a bit. Then it was off to the Anfield Loop.  I was worried about this bit because forums were talking about the “Peplow Pave” – a very rough section of road.  The worst bit however was the first stretch from Espley which was slightly uphill into a fierce head/crosswind.  I stupidly took a bottle from John on the move on this section and nearly ended up in the road due to the wind – suffice it to say I stopped the next time!  The Peplow bit was bad but not really worse than Cheshire courses – it was just the cumulative effect of it.  As I was travelling reasonably quickly I was treated to the full six laps.  After three hours my neck and shoulders were quite sore.  After five or so hours my knee was hurting.  Undercarriage, forearms and wrist were also starting to protest.  The only way to get through this sort of thing is to break it down into smaller and smaller chunks, so I’d worked out the bits of the course were I got some respite and counted the laps down to those sections.  I was spending more and more time off the aero bars and on the drops because it was more comfortable, which cost me speed.  Interestingly, from a fitness point of view, I never felt troubled, and probably could have gone faster were I not in pain.  Finally, I was directed back to Prees for the finishing circuit.  I stopped for a re-application of chamois cream (Elite Ozone Endurance – the best chamois cream I’ve used bar none) and for some deep heat on my neck and shoulders.

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Still smiling 190 miles in…

The finish circuit consisted of a short stint up the A41 before turning off down the backroads through Tilstock and down to Quina Brook.  This first bit of country road was horrible.  The surface-dressed road and headwind made it purgatory.  It was more aero-efficient to go into a tuck on this section but the surface and the nature of the road just made it agony.  There were some sections after this that were really nice and quite quick and then we turned left and back towards Prees, up a short incline.  By the end this incline felt a bit like an Alp but at least there was a 30mph+ downhill on the other side!  Back at Prees a crowd of supporters had gathered and it was fantastic to receive support as we went past – it’s a real boost before the horrible bit of the finish circuit!  After 10 hours I had a bit of a surge which lasted for half an hour – then I was just surviving – especially when it started chucking it down for the last hour or so.

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You can see my pace get slower and slower…

In fact I probably could have got a few more miles in but I was cold and in pain so I timed my ride to end at the timing point nearest the car park!  My official distance was 263.64 miles and I came eighth.  Thank you to Liz and Kate for their support, and to John and Paul.  And congratulations to Pauline and Jeanette for also finishing their first 12’s.  And a massive thanks to all the organisers, volunteers and marshalls – an incredibly well run event.

I told Liz she could slap me if I ever said I’d do another but I reckon on a good day (i.e. less wind) I could seriously beat that distance.  Here’s the lessons I’ve learned

  • I spent over 10 minutes stopped.  Doesn’t seem a lot but that’s 3 to 4 miles.  I think I could reduce that
  • I’d reduced my tyre pressures to provide a bit more comfort – probably should have reduced them further
  • My whole nutrition approach would change – I overestimated what I’d need
  • A bit more mobile support team would have made life a lot easier
  • A bit more training in aero position to help the neck and shoulders and using my more comfortable TT helmet from the start
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This is what 264 miles does to you…

July – hotting up

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The first weekend in July was the M&DTTA 100 on a gruelling Cheshire course that was best described as “grippy”. I was pleased with my overall performance despite an issue with a car that cost me the best part of 2 minutes and made the last 13 miles somewhat more mentally difficult. As an added bonus the Seamons team took the South Lancashire Shield. 7th from 70 riders, 04:03:20, (£40, 2nd vet on standard + team)

Midweek my legs were surprisingly sprightly and I clocked a respectable time in the club 10. 2nd from 32 riders, 22:16

I had relatively low expectations at the Nova CC 25 the following weekend but yet again I was pleasantly surprised with how I fared. Sometimes I find time-trialling infuriating because when I don’t expect to go well I do, and when i expect to go well I suffer. I’m sure it’s all explainable but despite the myriad of tools at my disposal in this day and age I’m still often clutching at straws to understand differences in performance. 3rd from 57 riders, 55:36 (£30, 3rd actual, 1st vet on standard)

As if to illustrate my point part 1, at the club 10 on Wednesday evening I put more power out and was over 30 seconds slower than the previous week (whilst other riders were faster). 1st from 34 riders, 22:48

And then to illustrate my point part 2, the following weekend was the Warrington RC 25 on the same J2/9 course as the Nova. In not dissimilar weather conditions I managed a power PB for a 25 (296W AP, 299W NP) but ended up 20-odd seconds slower. I had replaced the front tyre on my TT bike so maybe it was that but who knows! 8th from 102 riders, 55:59 (£10, 2nd 40-49)

The day after I went over to Hull chasing fast times and managed my second “19” so I was pleased with that. 16th from 139, 19:54

Bouyed by this result I proceeded to deliver less watts and a faster time at the next club 10. I wish I knew! 2nd from 32, 22:21

A change from the usual J4/16 50 course in Cheshire saw the Cheshire RC 50 being held on J4/9 – the new designation for the old J50E course. Slightly agricultural in parts, and with the usual grippy Cheshire roads, it did make a nice change, albeit the shorter lap distance did cause more bunching and traffic issues as the event went on. It was a warm day and I do seem to fade a bit in the warmer conditions, so overall I was pretty pleased with the result, especially as it helped us to another team prize. 10th from 78, 01:54:51 (£8 team prize)

On the Tuesday evening we had the rearranged Club 25 championships on JC24. It was a bit windy and I picked this evening to chalk up my worst 25 time of the season. Again, my power was okay but I think I went out too hard and then died into the headwind sections. Other than that I can’t really explain it. 3rd from 24, 57:21

I also rode the Club 10 the day after and was happy enough that I still had enough in my legs for a reasonable performance. 1st from 26, 22:38

At the weekend it was our club Open 25. As well as counting for the Cheshire Points series, the fastest M&NW VTTA rider with the best aggregate standard times from both the Nova CC 25 and this race would hold the VTTA Manchester & North West Group 25 Mile Championship Cup for 12 months. And I was leading after the Nova, so I had a clear target in mind for this race. It was a windy day and I was adamant I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made on Tuesday, so I made sure I paced it sensibly, going harder on the headwind sections and taking a breather on the tailwind bits (although it never works out like that on J2/9 really!) It paid off and I made it on to the podium, we won the team prize and I secured the VTTA cup, so I was very pleased. 3rd from 77, 55:38 (£30 + £10, 3rd + team)

Up at stupid o’clock on Sunday I was off to Rainford to ride the Birkenhead North End 25 at D25/3. It was windy again and it’s an unforgiving and open course, so it was really hard work. When I started TTing only a few years ago I never thought I’d say this, but I won an open event! Absolutely delighted. 1st, 56:32 (£50)

The weather in July has been a bit all over the place.  Hot, cold, windy, rainy.  I guess what you’d call a typical British summer.  In the winter and early spring months you convince yourself it’s going to be a great summer but the reality rarely matches the expectation you’ve set.

As we head into August I’m leading the Manchester & District TTA Cheshire Points Series, but the way these are scored means that I’ll be overhauled early in the month.  My overall goal at the start of the season was a top 5 finish so I think I’m on track for that.  I’m also looking forward, with a lot trepidation I must add, to my first ever 12 hour time-trial.  My longest ever ride is 258 miles so I’d be delighted if I could beat that, although at the moment the goal is just to survive!

Overall it was a month where I tried to ease back a bit to avoid overreaching, covering 577 miles with 19,009ft ascent at around 20.4mph average, which used up around 19,958kcals. In addition I spent 12 hours 37 minutes on the turbo using a further 8,645kcal. Total for the month was 2,445TSS

June – you can tell it’s summer cos the rain is warmer…

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Ah summer.  We had a few days of that this month.  At least the rain was warmer though.

The first race of the month was the club 10 championship on the 1st.  As is often the case it didn’t go to plan as I got held up by an Eddie Stobart lorry who I am convinced did it on purpose, causing me to limp in well down the field.  However, we race on public roads so them’s the breaks, and the winning time was a cracking one that would have taken some beating, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  23:29, 6th from 32

On the first Saturday of the month I rode the Stretford Wheelers 25 on J2/9.  This was a hot day – probably the first day of the year racing in such temperatures.  I don’t carry a bottle on 25’s and it doesn’t usually matter but this time I was serioulsy overheating and dehydrating.  My power was down, barely above the previous week’s 50, and at the end I thought I’d done terribly, as it got worse and worse.  As it was it must have affected others more than me because my time was much better relative to the people I’m normally in and around.  55:28, 5th from 67 (£25, 1st 40-49)

Midweek I rode the club 10 and didn’t get held up this time. 22:26, 1st from 34

The next day I was up at stupid o’clock to get down to Tilstock to ride Chester RC’s 25 on D25/8E.  I like this course but not so much the early starts!  However it was a lot cooler and I rode much more evenly paced race.  In the end I was both delighted and gutted in equal measures to take 2nd place, not far off my first win.  55:02, 2nd from 54 (£50, 2nd and 2nd veteran on standard)

Saturday the 11th was a day of rain, rain and more rain, and the Janus RC 25.  The road was flooded in several places and it was no fun when my feet (and expensive power pedals) were going underwater riding through the floods!  Twemlow Lane, the subject of a very recent surface dressing, was flooded in at least 3 places – yet another reason to add to the list why surface dressing shouldn’t be considered an effective or viable road resurfacing method.  This time I fared worse in relation to my peers, being affected more than they were.  56:27, 5th from 77 (£20, 3rd veteran)

The midweek club 25 championships were postponed due to roadworks so my next race was the M&DTTA 50 mile championships.  Having got soaked on Saturday I did likewise in my recovery ride on Sunday, so ended up with a cold all week, and feeling a bit sorry for myself by the time of the 50.  The weather was near perfect and despite how I felt I managed another 50M power PB, but everyone else just basically went faster!  01:54:16, 10th from 91 (£15, 5th veteran on standard)

The following week, after what felt like a month of general malaise, I actually felt good again when I was training and good again at the mid-week 10.  22:06, 1st from 26

Although I’ve ridden A25/11 and the 100 mile course on the A50 from Etwall, as well as the 50 mile course from Blythe Bridge (the other way round – J5/12), I’d not ridden A50/6 before so I’d identified it as an A race as it’s a fast course.  That meant lots of very fast riders from all over the country so I only just scraped in with my PB of 01:53:00.  The weather forecast was pretty variable before the event but there would be a headwind out and a tailwind back.  The question would be whether I got a soaking too – an hour beforehand there was a hailstorm so it didn’t bode well!

I’d set out the splits I needed to hit my target based on my knowledge of the course and how fast I could push it.  They were first 10 miles in 22:30, second in 24:00 (up the “concrete mountain”), back down in 20:00, single carriageway section in 23:00 and last 10 miles in 20:30.  That would give me a target of 01:50:00, but of course it didn’t take into account the wind direction.  I resolved to ride the first 20 miles into the wind at 25 mile power – roughly about 290W.  I was 7 seconds over on my first 10 miles – so far so good.  Then the headwind really hit me as I started the drag up the hill.  It took me 25:22 to do the next 10 miles – so far so bad!  I was able to get a bit of a breather on the next 10 and still spin out on 53-11 at nearly 40mph, making it in 19:03.  I took a gel and calculated that I was still down so pushed a bit harder to do the next 10 in 22:05.  It was back on – my renewed impetus and the tailwind helping me to complete the next 10 in 19:29 to clock a new PB of 01:48:48 and a Seamons all-age veteran club record.  That felt really satisfying, especially as I didn’t get wet at all!  01:48:48, results not yet in

The weather must have put a few people off for the last club 10 of June as there were only 24 riders.  The forecast correctly predicted the rain would blow over so none of the riders got wet which was another bonus.  The effects of the weekends efforts and training meant I was coming into this with a -11 TSB and low expectations and I met those comfortably!  My legs simply ran out of power after about 6 miles.  22:35, 2nd from 24

Here’s hoping that July brings some kinder weather with it.

Overall, during the month I rode 639 miles, with 27,987ft of climbing at an average speed of around 18.4mph.  I used 21,932kcals of energy, with another 10,473kcals during 13hrs and 24mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2,679TSS.

Cyclism’s…

There are some words and phrases that have been appropriated by some of the cycling community which always make me smile when I hear them or see people using them in social media.  I imagine that in my time I may well have been guilty myself but let’s list a few of them

Smash

These are examples of times when it is acceptable to use this word

  1. When describing what you are about to do to an object. “Help, there’s a fire. I’m going to smash the glass on that fire alarm!”
  2. When describing a tasty 70’s snack. “This Smash is so much nicer than real mashed potato.”
  3. Possibly whilst watching a 70’s Saturday afternoon wrestling match.  “Mick McManus has just hit Giant Haystacks with a forearm smash!”
  4. Watching Andy Murray lose another final.  “Great smash by Djokovic/Federer/Nadal!”

Unless you are a professional or elite rider please do not say any of the following. Even if you are a professional or elite rider, please use sparingly

“Going out on my bike and I’m going to smash it.” (unless example 1 above applies but why would you want to do that!?)

“I smashed that strava segment.” (strava w*nker?)

“I’m starving, I’m going to smash my dinner/some cake/chocolate”

 

Pistons

They are your legs.  The only person you are only fooling is yourself.

 

Steed

A steed.

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Not a steed.

 

Audax Specific Words

Short Ride – 200km or less

Long Ride – 400km or more

Ride – anything else

Rolling – used to describe a ride that involves thousands of feet of climbing with little or no respite

Undulating – the profile looks like shark’s teeth and you’d better have at least 34-28…

A bit hilly – Himalayas

Running Repair – where the top tube has come away from the head tube and is held together by a piece of chewing gum and a ziptie (“It’ll be good for another 100k…”)

Expensive – any cafe where a cup of tea is more than 50p

Carradice – Tardis-like seatpack with the capacity to hold most of your bike shed – usually just has your sandwiches and some zipties in it

Time Trial Specific Words

CdA – want less of this.  Don’t know what it is but am prepared to pay lots for less of it

Watts – want more of this but that takes hard work.  Think I can get round this by buying less of the above.  Repeat ad infinitum…

Cyclocross Specific Words

A bit muddy – Glastonbury on a very, very wet day

Muddy – Glastonbury after a week of very wet days

Technical – like trying to thread yourself on your bike through the eye of a needle.  With 100 other riders all at the same time.

Tricky Descent – 45% muddy drop lined with protruding tree roots and a 90deg turn at the bottom

Tyre Pressure – you want less of this for the mud and more for the tree roots.  At the same time.

 

If you use these terms, good for you, I’m only having a bit of fun.  Leave a comment with any other cycling terms that make you smile.  Anyway, my pistons feel great today. Lots of watts. I’m off out on my favourite steed to smash a few strava segments on an undulating short ride.  That’s numberwang… 

May – All Seasons in One Month

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As the title suggests the Month of May has seen all sorts of weather, including some really warm days, some really windy days, some really rainy days and some really cold days.  Occasionally all on the same day too!  The races came thick and fast. Probably too many, because by the end of the month I was starting to feel tired and overreached, causing me to listen to my body (for once) and take a couple of days off the bike. More on that later.

My club, Seamons CC, runs weekly club 10’s on a course in Cheshire. It’s not a fast course, and is subject to a couple of left turns and a couple of roundabouts, but it’s okay and it’s relatively consistent regardless of wind direction (as much as that is possible). As such it’s a decent measure of how you’re going relative to your other times on there, assuming you don’t get dramatically held up at any of the turns. It came as no surprise to me that over the course of the month I lost 28s and 15W. Mid-month I changed my position slightly and I’m still trying to work out what effect that is having. My suspicion is that I’m more aero but it’s affected my power output slightly but I think I need more data.

My first race of the month was a club 10. I managed 22:21 on 304W average power, my best on this course. 2nd from 33 riders

The following Saturday was my first 50 of the season. Weatherwise it was a great day so I was confident of a decent time. I was aiming for 23 minute 10’s and for once I paced it really well, ending up with a power PB and a time of 01:53:00. My clubmates also posted some great times so we won the team prize (with an event record time). 4th from 94, 4th, 2nd vet on standard (£20 + £20 team)

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At the next club 10 I was tired, possibly still due to my training on Monday and Tuesday with the 50 still in my legs so my power dipped by 10W, but my time only to 22:24. 2nd from 33 riders

I then went back to Hull to have another crack at V718. I thought it was going to be a decent day – tailwind out and headwind back. Shows what I know because there wasn’t much help out but it was still hard coming back! My power was back up at 309W and I posted a time of 20:43. 12th from 120 riders

At this point I messed with my position slightly and then I rode the club 10 on Wednesday posting 22:38. 1st from 29 riders

On the Thursday, in wet and horrible conditions, I rode a 2-Up 10 at L105 with clubmate Chris. I don’t really like these and this was no exception. I have no idea about the correct way to ride them, I’m slightly nervous on the wheel and the weather didn’t help. As it was we talked about taking 30s ish pulls each but it was taking me 450w to get on the front and then I was trying to pull at 350w before dropping off. Needless to say I was knackered after about 6 miles and I think I let Chris down a bit. Added to that my visor was misting up when I was behind Chris so I was struggling to see properly which put pressure on my neck. My helmet is very aero but not great in damp conditions it seems. Overall we posted a time of 21:43. 8th from 20 pairs (told on social media we’d won a prize but no news yet)

It was then a case of getting a bit of recovery in for one of my favourite events – the Stone Wheelers 25 on J5/8 (the A50). Lots of people don’t like riding dual carriageways but I do. I regularly get passed by cars too close on the Cheshire single carriageway courses but I find it’s less frequent on the DC’s, although they tend to be going faster. The weather forecast for the event was bad all week – crosswinds and rain. There was a chance it would be cancelled due to spray and standing water according to an email the organiser sent in advance. As it was, I got lucky. I got a bit wet in my warmup but I managed to ride virtually the whole 25 miles before the rain started and although I got soaked it was mainly in the ride back to the HQ after the finish. I did struggle on the really fast sections as my bike gets a bit twitchy above 33mph in a sharp crosswind so I was backing off – which probably helped because I had a bit left at the end for the “concrete mountain”. Unfortunately for some the event was abandoned after 110 riders had gone off but by all accounts a sensible decision. I was happy with my 52:44. 6th from 83 riders, 4th vet on standard (£25 + £10 team prize)

I must have put a lot in because the next morning I was knackered. Thankfully the Leigh Premier 25 I was due to ride had been shortened to a 10 due to unexpected roadworks. I barely managed more power than the 25 the day before and was disappointed with my 21:49. 10th from 55 riders

Probably stupidly I did two hard training sessions on Monday and Tuesday – although I felt great and my numbers were good. However, by the time it came to the Club 10 I was knackered and could only manage 22:49 off my lowest 10 power for over a year in wet conditions (visor trouble again!). 1st from 19 riders

I decided to take an extra day off training in response because I wasn’t feeling right.  I didn’t feel bad really, I just felt fatigued.  Normally after a day off I’m fine but I felt the same on Friday – very sluggish and like I was about to come down with something.  I got a really good nights sleep but still felt lethargic on Saturday morning.  I wasn’t expecting much from the Warrington RC 50M TT as a result, especially after I didn’t feel great on my warmup.  It was a really warm day so I was a bit concerned.  As it was, I managed another 50M power PB (275W AP, 277W NP) and was really happy with my 01:54:21.  It shows exactly what I know about how I feel but maybe the couple of days off helped.  6th from 80 riders, 3rd vet on standard (£30)

Overall, during the month I rode 639 miles, with 26,419ft of climbing at an average speed of around 19.1mph.  I used 21,628kcals of energy, with another 9,514kcals during 12hrs and 16mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2,519TSS

London Edinburgh London – MadeGood Films Documentary

Readers of this blog will know that in 2013 I completed Audax UK’s London Edinburgh London ride.  It was a fantastic adventure and you can read about it here

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Summary

As I mentioned in the blog, there was a documentary film crew following several riders, including Steve from Saddleworth Clarion.  The official documentary will go on sale on 1st June 2016 for £7.99.

It’s a great film which really captures the trepidation leading up to it, the excitement of starting the event, and then the slow breakdown that occurs during hundreds of miles of riding with very little sleep.  I’m not on any commission but I’d encourage you to buy it if you are interested in endurance cycling or good documentary film making.  It’s definitely worth a watch if you are planning to ride LEL in 2017. It’s worth a watch if you aren’t. You may even enjoy the small cameo from my good self and Chris – we are available for other cycling related bookings!  Chapeau, MadeGood Films.

April Highlights

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Photo courtesy of Ellen Isherwood

April saw the first of the Cheshire 25 mile races on J2/9 with the Withington Wheelers 25.  I rode it at a decent power level (slightly up on last year) but I could tell it was my first 25 as I was hanging on a bit after 22 miles!  It was an okay result with 56:24, but I know I can do better. 13th from 118

A week later I travelled down to Etwall to ride A25/11.  I ticked off another season goal with a 25 mile power PB but I was frustratingly 1s slower than my PB despite the near 20W improvement.  I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating that feels!  52:31 gave me a Seamons Veterans Club record (to go with the 19:39 10 Vets record last month) so overall I was pleased with that.  26th from 103

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Photo courtesy of Ken Norbury spinloose.co.uk

A day off work to ride the VTTA 10 on Tuesday 12th saw me riding J2/3 again.  My time of 22:22 was enough to put me in the prize money, onto the podium and part of the winning team on standard. 3rd from 78, 1st on standard (£30 + £10 team) 

A week later I managed to get a ride in the Macclesfield Wheelers 25 despite my postal entry from January getting lost in the post.  A special thanks to organiser Mike for going out of his way during a busy time to make sure I got in as a reserve.  I was pleased that I did because a decent 56:33 ride in windy conditions put me into the prizes and helped the team win again. 5th from 116, 1st 45-49 veteran (£20, £15 + £10 team)

The day after I was up at stupid o’clock to ride the D course at Prees.  My aim was to improve on my 30 mile PB set a couple of years ago and whilst my legs were still heavy I managed to do so with a 01:08:23.  6th from 57

The first Seamons Club 10 was cancelled due to roadworks, so I rode the Rainford (D10/1) club 10 instead, chalking up a 21:37.  4th from 45

At the weekend I was back to D10/1 for the Leigh Premier 10.  I tinkered with my armrests during the week so was hopeful for a comparable day to the midweek 10 to see if it had any effect.  As it was, the sunny and relatively calm weather from Wednesday made way for a cold northerly wind which removed any chance of a like for like comparison.  It was good to catch up with a few people who I’d not seen for a year or so before getting out into the wind.  It was a bit of a battle and I thought my time of 21:58 might not be that great.  As it was, I was in the prizes again and the winner, Olympic gold medalist and Team Wiggins rider Steven Burke MBE was “only” 1:28 faster than me – I’d have taken that before the race!  4th from 56, 1st veteran (£20 prize)  

At this point I realised that the last five times I have ridden D10/1 I have finished in 4th place!  So when the second Seamons Club 10 was also affected by the roadworks it was back again, and the pressure was on to maintain the trend!  The weather was icy cold, with a very stiff breeze and it was a really unpleasant ride.  Especially when it started to hail.  At the point that the road was covered white I considered easing off and just riding back but it passed and I continued to the finish.  the cold must have affected me as I struggled to keep warm and put power out.  At the end I was freezing – I’ve never been cold after a race before!  As it was I was 23s down on Saturday and 44s down on the previous Wednesday.  And I wasn’t 4th!  2nd from 28

After a wintery and icy week my last race of April was the East Lancs Road Club 10 on J2/1. I think I have a problem getting the power out when it’s cold, or my recent positional tweak has affected it, but I am 15W down on the start of the season.  That said, in very cold and breezy conditions I still managed my best time on this course of 22:04.  12th from 119, 2nd vet 40 (£15 prize)

An interesting point this early in the season is the sheer number of people competing in J events.  There are far more than I’ve seen before which must demonstrate a growing interest in time-trialling locally – as the courses are not fast and therefore don’t generally attract riders from out of district too much. In one way it’s brilliant that the sport appears to be going from strength to strength but I wonder if the numbers of riders are stretching the courses somewhat?  So far, everything seems to be fine but will be interesting to see how it develops during the season.

April’s races saw me tick off a season goal which was to win >£150 in prize money and I was particularly happy to help win a couple more team prizes – one of the reasons I moved to Seamons.  Training continues, although the demands of racing and recovery mean that in effect I am seeing a gradual de-training effect on my fitness which is to be expected.  Maybe that explains my power being down too?  I should do less racing and more training but I enjoy the racing too much!

Overall, during the month I upped my road mileage to 531, with a bit more “up” of 21,304ft of climbing at an average speed of around 18.4mph.  I used 18,004kcals of energy, with another 11,645kcals during 15hrs and 35mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2,409TSS

Season’s Here!

Ade's Road Cycling BlogThe season has started!

Four races in March signalled the start of the season and first attempts to see whether a winter of my own custom training plan had paid dividends.

The first race was a Manchester & District TT Association (M&DTTA) 10 on the J4/17 course.  The weather was pretty good, with a temperature of around 10˚C and a lightish 7mph southerly wind.  I felt pretty good all the way around and was happy when I crossed the line with a new power PB (season goal – tick) and a time of 22:14, which was over a minute quicker than I’d done before on the course.  5th from 56 (2nd on standard – £20 prize)

A week later it was the first of the Cheshire points series races, another M&DTTA 10 but on the J2/3 course.  It was bit colder at 8˚C and with a stiffer 9mph north-easterly.  My time of 22:30 was good enough to help my new club, Seamons, to the team prize and a podium place for me (season goal – tick).  2nd from 96 riders (£15 prize + £10 team)

On Good Friday I went to the V718 course in Hull.  It’s widely acknowledged to be the fastest 10 course in the country and as such it’s very popular, with many of the best riders in the country riding.  For once the wind wasn’t blowing a gale and was a helpful 9mph WNW on a chilly 9˚C morning.  I’ve been chasing a “19” since last season so I made sure my preparation was spot on.  One of the things that makes the V a fast course is traffic but there was relatively little at 10am on Good Friday, but it’s still a startlingly fast course.  With the wind almost directly behind me on the way out there were times I was spinning out at 38mph on a 53-11 gearing.  My first 5 miles, including the start and the turn, took 9m 16s.  The 5 miles back, which I did at 12W more power, took over a minute longer.  I crossed the line at 19:39 and finally ticked off a goal that had eluded me for a season.  There were some very fast rides, including the winner posting a “17”, but I am pleased that I managed to come 21st in a high quality field.  21st from 121 riders

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The second of the M&DTTA 10’s was the day after my trip to Hull.  The weather was very different.  12.5˚C but with a southerly wind of 25mph with gusts up to 50mph.  As soon as I started I knew I was in trouble.  Even the relatively sheltered Twemlow Lane start had me struggling to stay on a line and it got worse from there.  On the A535, particularly the very exposed parts, I was getting blown all over the road.  The worst thing was that it wasn’t consistent, it was swirling and hitting from both sides.  At one point, down near the sandworks I very nearly got blown off the bike, such was the force the crosswind hit me.  I spent much of the outbound leg on the drops rather than the aerobars.  After getting held up at the Chelford roundabout I was hoping the inbound leg would be a bit easier but if anything it was worse and I have to say I lost my nerve and spent most of it on the drops.  I finally reached the finish line and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve never been more relieved to do so in any race.  8th from 64 riders (2nd on standard – £15 prize)

March is normally a consolidation month where I try to transfer the gains I’ve made on the turbo to the bike.  I’m delighted with the start I’ve made but there is more to come.  Despite ticking off three season goals already, I still haven’t put the same power out on the bike that I have done on the turbo, which is a complete opposite to last season!  April sees the start of the 25’s, which is my favourite distance, so I am looking forward to that!

Overall, during the month I rode a rather paltry 317 road miles, with a very flat 14,158ft of climbing at an average speed of around 16.7mph.  I used 10,584kcals of energy, with another 22,299kcals during 28hrs and 38mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2,828TSS.

 

The Pointy End

Ade's Road Cycling BlogThe beginning/middle of March usually marks the start of the race season for me.  It’s nearly time to see whether the training I have been doing has paid off.  February has been a big month, both in terms of volume and intensity, but this off-season I’ve taken charge of my own approach rather than rely on a coach to tell me what to do. With that comes a nervousness about the efficacy of what I’ve done.  What I have attempted to do is build up to be training at levels much more like the type of racing I will do – namely time-trialling.  That involves more volume at these levels, less at lower and higher levels.  I think it has paid off.  Certainly the recordable evidence, such as CTL and FTP, suggest that it has (my most recent 20 minute power test has shown a big increase over this time last year).  Subjectively I feel strong and think I’m better able to push through lactic “burn” in my legs.  I can hold bigger numbers for longer than this time last year.  My aim was to try to increase my FTP slightly and have a CTL above 80 by the date of my first race, and then hold it as well as I could, with mini-tapers and peaks for key races.  My CTL is currently around 86 so I’m on track to meet my aim, and my FTP is up about 15W on last year.  But, of course, the only real indicator that matters will come when I have a number on my back and start riding for real.  I’ve been out to shakedown the TT bike and I struggled with my position and getting back to putting out the power whilst in that position.  Still, that’s nothing new as it happened every year and usually takes most of March to shake it out of the system and get back to riding aero again.  I finished last season feeling really happy with my position so I was hoping it would just “click” and maybe it will – just not yet it seems!

Overall, during the month I rode 395 road miles, with 18,169ft of climbing at an average speed of around 16.3mph.  I used 13,883kcals of energy, with another 18,843kcals during 23hrs and 46mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2795TSS.

Still in Hibernation – January

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From a training perspective January always feels like a month where you turn the corner.  For those of us for whom racing starts in early March there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as training is concerned.  For many, a new year brings with it new goals or a renewed motivation.  At least for a short while anyway!

I decided to get out on New Year’s Day and do some miles after trying to chase back fitness following a bit of illness in December.  Unfortunately the roads were icy – the first time this winter – so I cut it short and headed home on A-roads and ended up doing an hour on the turbo again.  So much for fresh air and coming out of hibernation!  And that has really been the story of the month.  My training has ratcheted up several notches (as planned) but mainly on the turbo.  I did get out on a club run with Seamons but managed to trash my already-poorly freehub so swerved off early.  I have been out the odd time since, but I’ve mainly put a lot of hours in indoors.  Not quite going stir crazy because I’m feeling very motivated at the moment, and power seems to be coming along nicely and I am heading towards race weight too, which helps.  The only niggle I have is some slight pain in my left knee from time to time, so I’ve been trying to nurse it a bit with varying degrees of success.  After the effort it took to regain the fitness I lost in December due to illness I’m loath to take too much time out as a result but I need to be careful.

In other news, I swapped turbo trainers mid-month from a wheel mount to a direct drive and it is much better, both in terms of quietness and “feel”.  Without any evidence to back it up, I think it is helping my training because I’m not pedalling squares the way you often do at high power on a wheel mount turbo.  At least that’s how I’m rationalising it internally!

The North West Cyclocross league also came to a conclusion.  The last event saw me standing in a hi-viz jacket in a muddy field as a marshall rather than race, but overall across the 9 qualifying races I managed to finish 24th out of a league of 214 veteran and ladies, which I’m happy with as a debut season.  It remains to be seen if I will do it again next year!

I also sat down and wrote out some goals for my proper race season.  These focus on power, PB’s, the M&DTTA Cheshire points series and club events.  I find having clear goals helps me focus on the training in hand especially when it’s getting hard.

That’s about it – not many miles but a lot of hours and my CTL is quite a lot higher than I expected it to be at this point.  6 weeks to the first race!

Overall, during the month I rode 354 road miles, with 18,697ft of climbing at an average speed of around 15.6mph.  I used 13,650kcals of energy, with another 20,504kcals during 26hrs and 32mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2776TSS