Well the weather has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime at the start of May. Apparently the hottest early May bank holiday weekend since records began – following on from one of the coldest Springs we’ve had for ages. Crazy.
The first race of the month was the Dukinfield CC 50 around J4/16 in Cheshire. The weather was a very pleasant 20-odd degrees which I was very happy with because I usually go relatively well when it’s warm. A fairly late start (I was off at 5-20pm) meant the roads were pretty quiet which was also very welcome. The first 50 is always interesting. I had a power number in mind and tried to ride slightly above it, which I managed. Over the 50 miles my power drifted down and my heart rate drifted up. Indeed my legs were hurting from about 30 miles onwards but I kept telling myself that it was my mind trying to trick me into easing off and that they weren’t really hurting. Happily enough that seemed to work and I crossed the line with a new course best for J4/16. 50M in 01:52:13, 7th from 94 riders (£20, 2nd vet on standard)
Tour de Yorkshire
The next day I rode over to Haworth in West Yorkshire and positioned myself at the top of the Goose Eye climb. I’d mapped a route using an online mapping tool (ridewithgps) and it took me through some wonderful scenery and quiet country lanes. Unfortunately it also took in some off-road tracks which I would have struggled with on a mountain bike, so i found myself walking at one point, and cyclo-crossing at a couple of others! Yorkshire really embraces the racing with the people coming out in their millions (literally) and villages along the route gearing up to welcome the peloton with signs, painted bicycles, bunting everywhere and parties. It’s really impressive.
Riding back towards home I followed some of the race route in reverse – lots of shouts of encouragement from people still sat out in the sun, which makes a lovely change from the usual shouts you get as a cyclist! With the weather as it was cycling days don’t come much better than this.
There’s no pleasing some people…
The following weekend was dry, sunny but not quite as warm. Probably near-perfect conditions for the M&DTTA 25 mile championship saw a big field with some very quick riders. I was off early and I was feeling pretty good. I set off at a very decent pace – pushing a power that was close to the maximum I’ve ever done on a 25. I managed to keep that up for most of the first 20 miles – sure, my legs were hurting but I wasn’t ever hanging on. And my 10 mile split times were exactly where I wanted them for a fast time – 21:30 and 22:00. In my head I was looking at a long 53.
Unfortunately a horse trailer had different ideas, backing up traffic into Seven Sisters Lane and causing me to sit up and coast for a spell. At the end of Seven Sisters it was there again, holding up a line of cars to turn into the A50. I stopped, unclipped and waited a short while before losing patience and filtering past. Eventually it came past me and then held me up again, and finally round a wide sweeping bend it was very slow. So the clock stopped at 54:32, which is a J2/9 course best for me by 40-odd seconds. I should be delighted (I am now, I really am) but at the time I was gutted because it could have been a lot better. 25M in 54:32, 11th from 90 riders (potentially £15, 1st vet 50-54, tbc)
Is this becoming a habit!?
Going Round in Circles…
My A race for the 19th May was cancelled – the Stone Wheelers 25 on J5/8. My backup race – the VTTA National 50 was also cancelled. Thank you roadworks. I’d trained to try to peak for this so I was keen to do something on the weekend – so I thought I’d enter the TLI (The League International) National Circuit Race championships! Obviously not what I normally do but some decent training nonetheless. It took place at the Oulton Park raceway which is a brilliant venue, and the sun was shining again which always makes everything seem better. I was nervous beforehand – riding in packs at high speed makes me that way – but I wanted to use it as a training session as I knew I wouldn’t be able to compete with seasoned racers.
The race started and there was a slight dip then a rise before a sweeping left hand turn, a short straight and then another turn into a long headwind section. This was mainly downhill so not too bad before a chicane left then right, a steep little rise and then a left into the tailwind-assisted finishing straight. The total lap was a bit over 1.5 miles and we were due to race for approximately 50 minutes plus 2 laps. I was racing in the C category of 50-54 year olds.
In short it was decent fun. I got what I wanted out of it by spending quite a lot of time on the front, which was hard work but enjoyable. I got in a break with three laps to go but got pulled back, so for the last lap and a bit I tried to string it all out to avoid a sprint, alas to no avail. I was overrun at the end in what I can only describe as a terrifying (to a TTer) stampede for the line with seemingly no concern about position, line or even general direction! I sat up and let it all unfold in front of me and rolled over the line near the back.
You can see the difference in power profiles above from a 25M TT and this race, both of which had similar times and similar normalised power! Repeated 500W-900W spikes are, I suppose, a decent interval session and I discovered my maximum heart-rate is higher than I thought it was, but I shan’t be doing too many of these going forward!
After a 3 week break for road re-surfacing (commonly known as surface dressing) the club 10 was back on. Essentially, it seems they just put a bit of tar down and chuck gravel at it. The result, until it is “flattened” by traffic is a horrendous, grippy, uneven road surface.
It was windy and slow and I didn’t feel great but still nice to be out in the sun.
Big Weekend Part 1 – Warrington RC Harry Barker Memorial 50
This race also incorporates the VTTA NW Group 50 Championship which has been a target of mine for a couple of seasons now. It was another warm day but surprisingly windy. Being off relatively late, I was hopeful for less traffic but that ended up being wishful thinking.
The narrow roads that comprise J4/16 seem to be becoming busier and busier, and despite new speed limits cars pass very close and very fast. And then the cars regularly get backed up waiting to overtake. So it all gets a bit stressful – far more so than on a DC course. In fact there was another accident which needed an ambulance (unfortunately the second on Cheshire this season) so I hope the rider was okay*. In terms of my ride, I went off a bit too hard and by the end I was paying for it a bit. I got held up badly at one junction after a car pulled in front of me and then took what seemed like an age to turn and I lost my head a bit, swearing and riding a totally stupid power immediately afterwards which I then quickly regretted as limped across the finish line! Overall it was a great event and superbly marshalled by the WRCC volunteers. 50M in 01:53:38, 4th from 70 riders (£40, 1st vet on standard – EC Ward Trophy)
*found out afterwards a car had turned right in front of him resulting in a broken leg and collar bone – hope he heals quickly 😔
Big Weekend Part 2 – Anfield 100
On Bank Holiday Monday I rode the Anfield 100 (incorporating the VTTA National 100). This is a race that was first staged in 1889, and won by PC Wilson in a time of 7 hours and 11 minutes! The race pre-dates Paris Roubaix by 7 years and Le Tour by 14 years – it’s a very prestigious event. That said, it meant getting up at 4am and then battling round some very grippy and rugged roads. I thought my legs were feeling okay after the 50 but what I didn’t factor in was how much my shoulders and neck were aching. The constant battering from the road did nothing to help either. Roads that have been surface dressed create a horrible, constant rumbling vibration, and are full of undulations. Those that haven’t been – the infamous Peplow Pavé – are worse. Despite going to the toilet beforehand I desperately needed to go again after about 10 miles. I held it in for the remaining three and half hours and by the end it was pretty painful – it meant I was squirming about a bit in the saddle which just added to the overall stress**. This is my first 100 on the Specialized Sitero saddle. So far it has been great on the turbo and perfectly fine in the two 50’s, with none of the chafing I got with my previous saddle. I don’t know if it puts pressure on the prostate causing the need to go to the toilet – if so that’s not going to work so I’ll have to have a think about it.
I had cereal a couple of hours before on the drive down and I took some gel shots before the start. I had two 750ml bottles and three gels. The bottles had around 180kcals each of powder in them. The gels were 200kcals each. As the body cannot absorb more than 70-100g of carbs per hour anything more isn’t really helpful. The issues with needing to pee meant I probably didn’t drink enough – I ended up with half a bottle left on what was a warm day. I also dropped a gel so I was probably slightly under-fuelled by the end. That said, gels make me feel slightly sick so I might try to eat something like an energy bar next time.
Miles 35 and onwards were ridden on laps of a circuit that went very close to HQ, and I was tempted to pack more than once – something that rarely crosses my mind. The trouble with packing is that I think once you’ve done it once it becomes easier so I persevered, and by the end I was desperate to finish. I’d missed by sub 4 hour target by a couple of minutes but I didn’t care. I could barely muster a final effort over the line. Overall I was 5W down but 3 minutes quicker than the same event last year and finished in the same place, albeit there was nobody older than me above me on the leaderboard. In the VTTA National Championship I finished in 6th place. 100M in 04:02:04, 11th from 92 riders (potentially £20, 1st vet 50-59, tbc)
**Going to the toilet afterwards was painful and it remained so afterwards for a day or so – I don’t think I’ve done my waterworks any favours 😳
Seamons Club 10 Mile Championship
The sunshine gave way to very overcast skies, although it still felt warm and humid. I put a lot of effort in but seemed to go slower than I thought I should. My power was good, it was hard work, but a combination of the surface and possibly the air pressure meant I knew my time wasn’t good enough to win. Before the start, I suspected a 21 would be needed to win and Alan’s winning time was 21:59. Mine was 22:33. I suspect I possibly could squeeze another 20 seconds off that at best so I was well beaten into 2nd place. Well done to Alan.
I made the most of the weather in May, riding 837 miles outdoors at an average speed of 18.7mph. I climbed 40,468ft and used 30,168kcals. On the turbo I completed 16hrs 20mins for 10,894kcals. Total training for May was 3,270TSS