I’ve been following a thread on the timetrialling forum that is currently discussing natural talent vs training and application. I’d recommend reading it (link here) because it’s interesting and informative, touching on subjects like training load, training approaches and racing. The great and the good of the TT world, guys who have significant experience AND talent, have pitched in with their experience, which makes it fascinating for somebody like me who is always striving to improve. And that’s the point for me. I get my enjoyment from training and competing in TT’s because whatever I do, I like to do it as well as I can, and hopefully see some improvement. So when I’ve done a training session that has, literally, turned my legs to jelly, I get great satisfaction from the fact that I know that’s improving me. Some people like to ride their bikes with others, stopping for coffee and cake, and generally just enjoying the fresh air and the view. That’s brilliant, because they’re doing something they enjoy and anything that gets people out on their bikes is great. I like that occasionally too, but in general it doesn’t really work for me. Life’s too short. I need that edge, pushing myself a bit more each time. Seeing how far I can get. It’s what makes it fun, and reading what these other guys are posting on the forum, I still have plenty of headroom for improvement, even at my age. It’s hard work, but rewarding, and I’m a great believer in “you get out what you put in.” I try to visualise that when I’m suffering on the turbo and the temptation is to just stop and get off.
June started with a trip to Rainford on the first Wednesday of the month. I’d not ridden there this year so it was good to get back and I used the ride to try a different approach – reducing my cadence to push a bigger gear. The results seemed promising and I recorded my best time for that course. 4th from 40, 22:14
On the Saturday I took a trip to Hull again in an attempt to get a fast ride and beat my PB. Yet again it was blowing a gale and the crosswind made it a tricky ride. The course is fast though so I managed to get within 9 seconds of my PB so I wasn’t too disappointed. If I get the right conditions on this course I’m confident I can take time off. 23rd from 115, 20:57
I was up early on Sunday to ride a 25 at Prees Heath. The wind had calmed a bit but the D25/8e course is quite exposed, so even a slight wind can make sections of it very painful and hard work. I managed to record my best time for the course and finish reasonably high up. 8th from 77, 57:34
The midweek Seamons club 10 was a nice evening and I managed to get under 23 for the first time on this course. Interestingly I recorded the same time as Chris from Seamons (very pleasing – he’s flying) and record my second win on this series, albeit joint! 1st from 33, 22:51
Next up was a trip north to Levens and another potentially fast course. It is somewhat more difficult though when the wind is blowing and so it was – it felt quite hard going right from the off! 22nd from 106, 21:02
Another midweek trip to Rainford and I managed to record exactly the same time as my previous ride, albeit on slightly less power. 4th from 23, 22:14
I’d been looking forward to riding A25/11 (Etwall) because it’s known as a fast course. It’s the other side of the McDonalds roundabout on the A50 to J5/8, and so comes without the concrete mountain at the end. When I got the start sheet I realised I was out of my depth, with some of the best TTers in the country taking part, including a certain Matthew Bottrill. My start was fairly uneventful and I was soon on the A50 and pushing on. It didn’t feel particularly fast and I was beeped and buzzed by a few cars, which was slightly unnerving. The heavens then opened and I got caught in a really heavy shower that rapidly soaked me through and made visibility difficult. A dodgy moment on the approach to a roundabout, where my brakes basically didn’t work then locked up into a skid, made me even more nervy. The shower passed and I made it to the halfway point in what I’d describe as light drizzle. I normally have a good idea of how I’m going but when it rains heavily and you are concentrating it is very hard to see the numbers and do the sums in your head. I went round the McDonalds roundabout very gingerly and before long the rain started again, getting heavier and heavier to the point that my visor was covered on the outside with raindrops and misting up on the inside. My Garmin was also covered so I couldn’t see any of the readings on it, or more importantly, more than a few yards in front of me. To make it worse the traffic was throwing up significant amounts of spray, so even though I attempted to clear my visor there was no real point. I was pretty glad when I reached the exit from the A50 and rode into the less busy finishing straight, even though there were still cars flying by. I still couldn’t read the Garmin so I had no idea what time I’d done. I was hoping I’d beaten my PB as I passed the finish line. I did briefly see Bottrill going the other way – he just looks different class on the bike with an amazing aero position and effortless-looking style. After getting changed I went to see the board. There was an agonising wait until my time was confirmed and I was delighted to see I’d taken more than 90 seconds off my PB, so I was pretty happy with that. More importantly, I’d identified a “52” 25 as one of my season goals, so as I wrote at the start of this piece, seeing evidence of progression is great. As for being out of my depth, that was confirmed with the results coming in from everybody else and my overall position. Something more to aspire to! 37th from 103, 52:30
The next morning was a very early start (5am) to go back to Levens and ride the 25 course there. Suffice it to say my legs weren’t up to the task and with a stiff breeze it felt like a very difficult ride. I was pretty much wrecked afterwards. 11th from 48, 58:15
By Wednesday I’d done a big training session as part of a big block so I was struggling a little bit at the Seamons Club 10. I beat my best time on the course but it’s all relative – it was only good enough for 4th from 25, 22:47
My final race of the month was good old J2/9. The sun was shining but there was a bit of a breeze. I managed to get my pacing about right, and didn’t lose concentration in the middle, which added up to a course best for me and my biggest prize of the year – £20! 6th from 86, 56:33
Overall, it’s been a month where I’ve had to work hard to build my fitness back up and started to move forward again from my setback in May.
June saw me ride 478 miles at around 19mph average speed, with 16,774ft ascent. That took 16,906kcals with another 5,451kcals in the 8hrs 02mins of turbo training – 1529TSS.
Summer is here, enjoy your riding whatever form it takes.