So that’s my second season of time-trialling completed and I reflect back on it with a mixture of pride in how I’ve improved, but also a slight sense of disappointment that I could have done more. Some of us are never satisfied!
I raced more this year. Last year I also had to fit training for, and taking part in, my LEL experience. This year was all about time-trials. So I competed in 38 open and club events at regular distances, in addition to 16 Kilton’s.
I started the season early, albeit with nothing in mind other than to blow away the winter cobwebs. At a very windy A6 near Garstang some roadworks saw a 10 shortened to just under 6 miles, and even so it was the usual horrendous first-real-race shock to the system. This was followed by my first 2-up, with Phil, on a sporting course in lovely calm and sunny conditions. Suffice it to say our technique was all over the place but bizarrely we won some money, being 7th fastest veterans. The rest of March was taken up with some Cheshire 10’s, and I recall it being a particularly windy month, or maybe that’s just my excuse! April saw the start of the 25’s and the midweek Kilton kicking off.
Over the whole season the weather was okay. There were very few really hot and sunny days, and I rode in torrential rain on three occasions, which wasn’t pleasant especially when one was a 50. One event was called off due to standing water on the course, and another due to a road traffic accident on the course (not involving a rider I might add).
I sought out some new courses during the season and rode for the first time on J8/13, A10/16, V415, A50/5, J4/18, D25/3, V236/1, L2525, D10/19 and L2524.
I rode a hilly 200k audax at the end of April during which I injured my knee. Following my usual pattern of “ignore it and it will go away” I finished the ride after popping ibuprofen but then continued to suffer with it all through May. My one concession to it was to take a week off the bike commute immediately afterwards but at the time I didn’t think it affected me much. I would simply pop a painkiller, rub some gel on my knee and then race. It’s only now looking back at my results there is a clear and obvious pattern. In the majority of my races before the injury I finished in the upper quartile of riders. In the majority from June onwards I finished in the upper quartile. In the whole of May, a total of x rides, I didn’t finish upper quartile once. There’s a lesson there that I really should learn if it happens again.
In July I invested in a power meter. It has opened up a whole new set of data to me which has been a big help in keeping my concentration during races and analysing areas for improvement. I’m hoping that it’s really going to pay off over the winter by allowing me to really target and measure the effect of my training programme.
Over the course of the season I won £69 in prize money, so whilst I think I’ll be working for the foreseeable future, it is a nice fillip when the cheque arrives. It’s also an improvement on last year, as was my position in the Cheshire points series. In 2013 I finished 14th with 353 points from my ten best rides. This year was 11th with 420 points. Next year I have to target top ten.
The season drew to an end with some PB’s which I was pleased with for about 30seconds and then not satisfied with at all – that will only make sense to other testers – and a the Johnny Helms 2-Up Grand Prix de Gentlemen, where I was towed round J2/9 by Matt for 24 miles before taking the glory in the final mile!
Seamons Cycling Club hold their weekly club TT’s on the 8.75M course on the A50 near Mere. I enjoy these events as the Seamons people are really friendly, the course is a little bit sporting and Kate loves taking pictures of the riders – see link to her page here with all the seasons pictures on it. Last year I rode 14 events, got my PB down to 19:39, averaged 25.9mph across all of my rides and finished in a podium position twice. This year I rode all 16 events, dropped my PB to 19:19, increased my average to 26.5mph and finished in a podium position 10 times. I even won one – the first time I’ve won any sporting event anytime in my life! So I was more than happy with my performances.
I rode 12 tens during this season as opposed to 13 last year. My average speed increased to 25.7mph from 24.9mph and I took my PB down from 23:06 to 20:48. This has been my weakest distance, so it was pleasing that this was my best improvement of any distance – 10% – and I finally managed to translate the capability I’d shown in Kiltons and 25’s into a 10. I travelled over to the Yorkshire Coast to take part in the National Clarion 10 championship on what turned out to be a fairly sporting course. My mistake was having done a 50 and a hilly 200k audax in the previous two days which meant my legs simply refused to do what I wanted, especially on the hill at the end of the course, where I died a thousand deaths in the space of a couple of hundred yards. I was 5th Clarion.
My best ride was my PB at Levens – a 20:48. I warmed up on the turbo in sunshine but ending up finishing the course in a monsoon-like downpour. I think it actually helped as it focussed my mind completely on the task in hand – finishing as quickly as possible to get off the road and out of the rain!
I’ve ridden more 25’s this year than last and in many ways it has become my favourite distance. Last year was all about breaking the hour and pushing on from that as best I could. This year my focus has been on improving my PB, improving my pacing and riding different courses. My PB has dropped from 57:55 to 54:06, my average speed has increased from 24.9mph to 25.8mph, but perhaps more satisfying is that I’ve improved my Course Best (CB) on good old J2/9, dropping it to 57:47. Overall, I’ve improved my positioning in 25’s, pretty much regularly being in the upper quartile of riders, just outside the top 10 in bigger events and top 10 on the odd occasion. My best position in an open was a 25 where I came 4th.
Similar to last year I rode Cheshire series 50’s on J4/16, which is a hard course, and I was delighted to break the two hour mark on it. I also rode the A50/5 course as part of the National Clarion 50 championship, finishing a reasonable 2nd Clarion rider and 16th overall on a very hot and thirsty day. My last solo ride of the season was on the J5/12 course on the A50 where I improved my PB to 01:53:06, which whilst pleasing was also disappointing when I compare my result to riders I am regularly closer to other distances. It’s clear I have work to do at the longer distances.
You can read about my one and only 100 here. Suffice it to say it was a painful first effort completed in 04:20:17 but it’s probably a good (or bad) sign that I’m already sure I can improve on it…
Probably the most important thing about the season is that I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have taken immense pleasure out of the process of training with specific goals in mind, and then seeing those goals realised. I’ve enjoyed the routine and the preparation I go through on the day of a race. The people you meet and the friendly banter/advice has been fantastic. There hasn’t been a race where I’ve not loved riding it, even those where it has rained from start to finish, and even miles 80 to 90 on the 100, which were pretty soul-destroying! I appreciate the feeling afterwards of aching legs and even the annoyance that I think I could have done more. It all drives me on to do better and go faster and I still think there’s more to come. If I use a football analogy I think this year has established me as solid Championship. I’m probably a bit too old to contemplate getting to the Champions League but next season I really must break into the Premier League. So it’s a winter in the shed training and tinkering with my position. I can’t wait! See you next season!
- Kilton – 19:19 (27.2mph)
- 10 – 20:48 (28.9mph)
- 25 – 54:06 (27.7mph)
- 30 – 01:12:39 (24.8mph)
- 50 – 01:53:09 (26.5mph)
- 100 – 04:20:17 (23.1mph)