Failing (or the Art of Compounding Mistakes…)

At the start of the year I sat down and wrote down a series of things that I wanted to achieve from the 2015 time-trial season.  There were some main goals, some interim goals and some one-off goals.  I then planned out my race calendar so that races that contributed to the main goals were classified as “A” races, “B” races contributed to the other goals and “C” races were simply about race-craft or training.  My training plans would build towards an “A” race and my focus would be 100% on preparation, so it was supposed to be highly scientific and carefully planned.

And then reality happened.

For my first “A” race earlier in the season everything was going to plan in preparation, but the race itself didn’t turn out how I thought it would and at the time I didn’t know why – with hindsight I was at the start of an illness that knocked me back for about 4 weeks.

For my second “A” race I really wasn’t in the right mental frame of mind.  I almost didn’t ride.  The race went entirely to plan!  Make of that what you will.

My third “A” race was over the weekend just gone and involved a 300+ mile round trip.  Again, everything was going to plan.  In the previous week I’d ridden two TT’s at a course best for me. I arrived at the HQ very relaxed and confident.  My warmup was okay.  The trouble was it was very hot – the Garmin and car gauges were reading 30˚C.  I decided against a bottle on the bike because, hey, I’d never needed one for a 25 before.

Hello mistake number 1.

I rode to the start.  It was hot but okay when I was moving.  I rolled past the start and then further up did a U-turn and came back down to the queue of riders, forgetting to change to a higher gear and leaving the bike in too big a gear for my start.

And that was mistake number 2.

My intention was to hold the front brake on, lean the bike forward and flip the gear like I’d done a hundred times before.  I pulled the brake and heard an alarming “ping” as the right hand caliper, hidden behind an aero fairing inside the front fork, clamped to the wheel.  The rider in front of me was at the start line which meant I had a little over a minute.  The wheel wouldn’t turn, the caliper wouldn’t move.  I had no tools to remove the fairing.  I wouldn’t recommend this at home, and with hindsight it didn’t help much, but I loosened the wheel and repositioned it at a slight angle such that it would turn, albeit still touching the pad.  I realised I didn’t dare pull the front brake so I’d be approaching every roundabout simply feathering the rear.  I didn’t have time to be too nervous about that because then it was my turn to push off.  N1/25C has a gift hill at the start.  I realised going down that that I wasn’t going as fast as I should be and so my natural instinct kicked in.

Mistake number 3.

I pushed a bit harder than I should have done, and kept on pushing, but still the speed didn’t come.  At roundabouts (there are lots on N1/25C) I was backing off and using my one brake carefully.  At 8 miles the course turns back on itself and on this day was into a cross headwind.  By 10 miles I was overheating and my power was dropping as my heart rate was rising.  At 13 miles the course turns back again and the sweat was dripping down onto my visor.  I was cursing myself for not putting a bottle on the bike as I was so thirsty.  I’d pretty much run out of gas.  The rest of the ride was a bit of a blur of unpleasantness, and at the end I felt dazed and dizzy as I got my breath back before heading back to HQ.  To be confronted by my worst 25 time for 2 years. In an “A” race.  AN “A” RACE!

Anyway, I sulked for the duration of the drive home.  Took the brake apart to find the broken spring – see picture.  Manufactured a pretty dodgy Heath Robinson fix.  Emailed Canyon to request a warranty replacement.  Got my stuff ready for the following day.  Sulked a bit more.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

On Sunday morning I just got on my bike and rode.  No warmup as such, a lot of care on the front brake (used it only once) and concentrated on putting the power down in the right places.  I came 6th overall in a time around 4 minutes quicker than the day before. I’d like to say it made up for the Saturday, and in some ways it did.  But I still need to re-assess my overall goals and probably change them, as the ones I’d set are pretty much insurmountable now.  So that remains a real and tangible disappointment after all the effort I’ve put in over the winter.

Anyway, lessons to be learned and more plans to be made.  You might call it a Plan B.  Onwards and upwards.

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