Sunday the 1st of July and it was the M&DTTA 100 Championship around the J4/18 course in Cheshire. At least that was the plan! When I turned up to sign on there was a sign up – roadworks had closed one of the short legs of the course so now it was the M&DTTA 91 Championship! I have to admit that looking at the forecast temperatures I wasn’t particularly unhappy about having to do 9 miles fewer.
It was relatively pleasant when I set off but pretty much straight away I got a taste of what was to come. The road surface was terrible. After just over a mile and a half I felt one of my bottles hitting my leg as it was bounced off the bike. I wasn’t too concerned because I’d put a couple of spares on the self-supported table so I just carried on juddering up the A50. Several miles later, on the way back down the A50, I noticed that somebody had stood my bottle by the roadside. I’ll get that next lap, I thought. After Twemlow Lane the A535 to Chelford was particularly busy with traffic. Before 10am on a Sunday morning on a narrow country road you don’t expect to be passed by a couple of HGVs and stuck in traffic at a roundabout. The traffic didn’t seem to ease off after that and I ended several times, including the Holmes Chapel double roundabout and Chelford Island again. When I arrived back at the point where my bottle had been I slowed down to get it only to find it had gone. At the self-support table I found it, so that was a bonus. Or so I thought because I lost it again on the next lap – this time thanks to a different set of potholes on the A50 (never to be found again this time!)
By about 60 miles the temperature had really ramped up and it was getting harder and harder to maintain power. I started getting cramp at around 80 miles and by the finish I wasn’t bothered how fast I was going, I just wanted it to end!
By the time I rolled into the HQ my bike was making all sorts of strange noises from the battering it had taken on the awful Cheshire roads, as were a number of my joints and contact points! 92M in 03:41:46, 5th from 49 riders (deep breath – £20 and Nick Carter Trophy, 1st vet on standard, £20 and South Lancs Team Shield 1st team. Bronze medal in M&DTTA Middle Distance Comp, 1st Veteran)
It’s just not cricket
Actually it is. I took a break from training and went to watch England play India at the T20 cricket at Old Trafford.
The atmosphere was pretty great and despite India teaching England a lesson it was a lovely evening. On the tram home the streets were deathly quiet because England were busy winning a penalty shootout in the World Cup for the first time in a generation!
At the Club 10 on Wednesday my legs really did have nothing – 20W down from my best and 10W down from my usual mid-week. At least the tan lines look good.
New Bars Please
I had decided to try to alter my position to get one with my hands a bit higher and closer to my face. So I replaced the Zipp Vuka 110’s with some reversed USE 50˚ extensions. I also used Canyon’s switchplate adaptors to bring the armrests slightly closer together. I tested it all and it felt pretty comfortable on the turbo. I’m not sure that it is any more aero but it seems to look like it should be.
Do you want the bad news or the good…?
On Saturday I was at Rainford to do Southport CC’s 25 on D25/3. I figured it would be a good test for my new position. It was another scorching hot day and I was expecting quiet roads due to my start time being twenty minutes before England’s World Cup quarter final against Sweden. I signed on and got my bike set up on the turbo ready for my warmup. The bike was in the 11 cog at the back and that was where it stayed – the Di2 system was dead. I was sure I’d checked the battery level the night before so I wondered if I’d inadvertently not connected something properly so I went through all the connections. I even removed the seatpost to check the battery connection. Nothing doing. So I was a DNS. Annoyingly, when I got home, I plugged the charger in and it all worked so maybe it had discharged? Still, I got to watch the England quarter final game which was some consolation.
On Sunday I was due to go to South Wales to ride R25/3H again so I was paranoid about my Di2 working (I now carry a Di2 charger and battery pack in my TT kitbag!). The heatwave continues and it was already warm when I arrived at the HQ. I warmed up in the shade and made my way to the start. This was the first time trying my new position in anger – not ideal but there you go. The sun was pretty intense when I set off and I was working pretty hard despite the slight tailwind. I recorded my fastest ever 10 miles in 18:13, or 32.9mph. I did that off 279W – my heart-rate (HR) at a fairly normal average of 167bpm. It started to hurt a bit at this point with the turn coming at 15 miles or so and then back into a slight headwind.
I was very hot now and sweating profusely. Being a smaller rider I think I manage heat better than most and I don’t normally sweat so much. The theory with sweating is that there are two main components to it. Blood is diverted towards the skin (and consequently away from the muscles) to allow it to be cooled by the air. That’s not enough so the next stage is to use fluid to help heat evaporate. In the first instance the water that constitutes sweat comes from extracellular fluid and blood plasma, which results in a “thickening” of the blood. That means the heart has to work harder to move it around the body, which compounds the fact that it is already diverting it from the muscles. Hence HR is usually elevated in the heat and performance is seriously compromised.
My second 10 miles took 20:35 (29.2mph) but my power had dropped to 274W and my average HR was up to 177bpm. I was struggling now, and a slight holdup at the final roundabout (cost – 8 seconds, according to TrainingPeaks) made me think I had missed my target “49”. I was gutted as I crawled my way back to the HQ, miserably up the bank that I had been flying down at 46mph only forty-five minutes earlier! However, I had just sneaked in under 50 minutes! #project49 complete! For the last 5 miles my power was 276W with an average HR of 181bpm, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. I put a massive effort in over the last half mile, averaging 317W, with my HR peaking at 185bpm (which is pretty much my maximum). That effort was probably the difference between success and failure and I doubt I would have been able to do that if I’d raced on Saturday rather than DNS! A good lesson in perspective!
25M in 49:57, 15th from 97 riders
Contador by the numbers
Alberto Contador posted some pictures to his Instagram page showing the results from an FTP test he took prior to one of his Tour victories. So the data is possibly 10 years old but it is quite incredible really. He also posted a picture of him weighing himself afterwards. The pictures showed that his 20 minute power was 458W at under 62kg. Wow. That’s around 7.4W/Kg for 20 minutes. Now I weigh just under 62kg too, but I’m happy if I get anywhere near 5W/Kg for 20 minutes. In real terms, if I started a 20 minute climb next to Contador I could stay with him for possibly 90 seconds. At which point I would go pop whilst he carriied on riding at the same level! Even Chris Froome, with the most recent test data he published, is only in the mid 6’s (W/Kg), which sort of pokes a hole in the Froome-haters view that he is on something that elevates him above his peers.
It’s not very often in this country that you see a shimmering heat haze on a road but that’s what it was like on the A50/6R.
Having been re-arranged from the A50/6 due to roadworks further up the A50 the field was much smaller than usual, and the course was 3 laps of the circuit above. I actually liked the course and I believe that the BDCA 100 later in the season will be 6 laps of this. Again it was hot and again I watched my power fade away as the temperature increased and I flagged, although overall I really enjoyed it. 50M in 01:47:09, 4th from 24 riders
With the Cheshire RC 50 being cancelled due to an accident that resulted in a 600 ton exceptional load being diverted onto the course (imagine being stuck behind that – “I would have PB’d…”), my next race was the Seamons Open 25 on J2/9. After the seemingly endless heatwave (by British standards) the weather was much cooler and very, very windy. I was off early so that I could help with the catering/general dogsbodying after my ride.
The day was very windy and as I was about to head off for the start it started raining. By the time I got to the start it had stopped so I thought I might get lucky. No such luck. The wind was really blustery, with some scary gusts, and then the heavens opened and it was monsoon-like for about 20 minutes. The first lap of the course was pretty miserable but then it stopped and the wind died a bit making the second lap more pleasant. A big thank you to all the volunteers, helpers and marshalls – it can’t have been nice being out in that. 25M in 55:39, 4th from 88 riders (£50, 1st vet on standard, £20 1st team. VTTA M&NW 25M Championship Cup)
I’ve been thinking about whether to continue with the blog. A few people have spoken to me about it and find it interesting, which is really nice to hear (thank you for taking the trouble), so I’m going to carry on for the time being, although I might think about changing tack a little bit after the season is over. If you read this and enjoy it – thank you.
Another month of mainly scorchio weather! Brings back memories of 1976 for those over a certain age! I rode for 729 miles outdoors with 25,225ft ascent at around 19.2mph average, which used up around 25,225kcals. I spent 18 hours 43 mins on the turbo using a further 13,628kcals. Total for the month was 3,320TSS