September – end of season spin down

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

September is when the season winds down and we head into the winter.  But not before the BDCA 100 which is the only real opportunity for northern based riders to ride a “fast” 100 without driving significant distances.  I set my 100 mile PB here in 2015 which has stood ever since, mainly due to the 2016 event being cancelled due to adverse weather.  So I was really looking forward to this and I was feeling much better this year after the 12 hour.  My preparation was all pretty much to plan – lots of tempo miles and a short taper.  And, beyond all my expectations, the weather was about as perfect as it can get in this country.  I’ve heard about these “float” type days but haven’t experienced many in the time I’ve been doing this.  It was warm without being too warm and there was next to no wind to speak of.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I’d put together a 10 mile split schedule to get me to around 3 hours and 40 minutes, although it was more in hope than in anticipation.  However, I felt really good on the first 20 miles out and found myself nearly 3 minutes up on target.  As I reached the turn at Blythe Bridge I realised that what little wind there was had been behind me (helping me up the “concrete mountain”) and was now in my face.  It wasn’t like a proper headwind but it took a slight edge off the really fast bit of the course.  By the halfway mark my gains had been reversed slightly and I was only about 90 seconds up.  The second 50 mile “lap” followed the same course as the first and I was happy that I managed to maintain my power until about 70 miles.  Between 70 and 90 miles I struggled and the wheels almost came off – metaphorically; thankfully they remained firmly attached to my bike!  My power dipped quite a lot and I was struggling with some undercarriage problems which didn’t help.  Time to MTFU!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

I managed to get it all back together again in the last 10 miles but by the time I’d finished I’d put just about everything in that I could – it took a while afterwards before I stopped feeling sick and dizzy.  I was delighted to knock nearly 14 minutes off my PB with a new club record of 3 hours 38 minutes and 52 seconds.  I’d been chasing a club record all season so this meant a lot, especially after having thought I’d broken the 50 record only to find Alan had already beaten both the record and me.  I also appear to have qualified to get my name on the timetrialling forum all-time fastest list which is something I never imagined possible when I started this lark.  For 100 miles it is a list of riders who have gone under 3 hours and 40 minutes.  I realise that everyone is getting faster and I probably won’t be on there for long when the goalposts get shifted but again, it means something to me that I can say I managed it.  Subsequently, I also found out that I’d missed a VTTA National Age record by 1 minute and 10 seconds – again, doesn’t seem like much but totally unexpected to get that close so I’m very pleased with everything about this ride.  8th from 78 riders

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

In sharp contrast the weather had noticeably changed over the course of the week so that when I travelled down to South Wales the following Sunday it was very windy and very wet.  R25/3H is arguably the fastest 25M course in the country but not in a gale/monsoon – a fact reflected by the 60-odd DNSs.  Racing can be dangerous in extreme wind and rain, especially on DC courses, so people make their own decisions about riding or not and that is fair enough.  I decided to travel and ride despite knowing there was almost no chance of a really fast time or a PB, ultimately because I respect the commitment made by the organiser and the many volunteers to put the event on – and who were out in the same weather for much longer than I was.  Anyway, I parked next to a motorhome and the kind gentleman let me set up my turbo under the awning so at least I wasn’t soaked during my warm up.  The course itself was decent enough – there is a large downhill near the start known as the “bank”, which was very quick even into a headwind.  However with the swirling nature of the wind and the spray I ended up on the drops rather than stay in aero tuck (#wuss) and I was still 40mph+.  The rest of the outbound leg was a struggle into the wind but after the turn I was flying back.  Unfortunately the disadvantage incurred outbound far outweighed the tailwind back and I ended up with a time 90s off my PB.  On the positive side, I now know what the course is like so if I come back next year that will help.  By the time I got back to my car (nearly 6 additional miles up that bank I mentioned) I was like a drowned rat.  It took ages to get dry and change into fresh clothes and as I walked into the HQ to sign out and hand number 66 back I was stopped by doping control – but it was number 67 they needed.  Good to see them there though.   20th from 55 riders

The damp and the detritus from South Wales meant I needed to do a bit of maintenance on the bike and for the second time the hidden/aero front brake had a corroded leaf spring that snapped

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Experience has taught me that the tiny screw that holds it on is made of cream cheese and strips really easily so I contacted Canyon to order new calipers.  In the meantime I would revert to the solution I used first time around – namely a strip of souvenir Cyprus eraser cut to size to provide the “spring” back against the fork wall.  This is a known problem with the Speedmax front brake it seems – although that didn’t stop Canyon at first sending me replacement parts with half of them missing.

Sunday morning in the South Lakes was a lovely crisp morning, albeit a bit cold. There was limited wind and thankfully no rain.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I’d not ridden Levens for several years.  It’s a course I like – straight out and back, fairly quiet and fast on a good day, due in part to the gift hill at the start.  Before I ventured onto the V it was where I set my 10 mile PB.  The HQ was new to me – the bowling club in Levens Village which isn’t designed for 90 riders and their cars!  So I collected my number and parked up in the usual lay-by near to Sizergh Castle.  Once warmed up on the turbo it’s a short ride to the start.  I was very happy with my race overall – I managed a similar power output to the start of the season (which is unusual for me) and I knocked a whole second off my course best! 18th from 82 riders (£20, fastest 50+ age group)

My final TT of the season was the last race in the Cheshire Points series – the Stretford Wheelers 25.  It was due to take place on J2/9 but surprise surprise there were roadworks!  This season has been a complete nightmare for roadworks in the north west and it must have driven organisers to absolute distraction.  Instead it was run on the J4/8 course, which many people prefer, myself included.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

The weather was warm and mainly dry – the odd hint of damp in the air beforehand but nothing significant.  I was feeling really good and when I set off my power was great.  The first short loop saw the riders turn onto the A50 for a short distance and then left again onto Penny’s Lane.  As I turned I mistakenly hit the front shifter and my chain jumped off the big ring, missed the small ring and jammed between the bottom bracket and the chainring.  I stopped, freed it up and put the chain on the small ring and set off again.  The bloody thing then jumped off the other way as it wouldn’t shift up to the big ring and the chain ended up jammed between the big ring and the derailleur.  I stopped again, put it back on and set off again but that was basically my time gone.  I decided to make it a great training session instead and proceeded to try to smash myself.  A short delay onto the A535 and then again onto King Street confirmed it wasn’t my day.  I powered into the headwind still feeling great and then turned into Byley Lane to see where I would be after one lap.  Only to find a line of cars (and riders) queued behind a herd of cows running up the road.  Followed by a marshall in a hi-viz jacket!  I sat there behind them for a while with the other riders before the marshall turned from running and shouted to go past down the right hand side of the herd.  So I did, quite carefully though, as I didn’t fancy spooking running cows!  As I completed lap one my time was nearly 36 minutes – it had been a bit over 32 minutes the last time I rode this course.  The second lap was uneventful by comparison and I ended up crossing the line somewhere close to 4 minutes down on my previous time.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Christian Fox

However, I was very happy with my form and power, and as that was my last race of the season I go into a break and then winter training with better form than I’ve ever had at the end of a season.  15th from 98 riders

During the month I managed 519 miles outdoors with 21,012ft ascent at around 18.4mph average, which used up around 18,471kcals. I spent 13 hours and 15 minutes on the turbo using a further 9,311kcals. Total for the month was 2,375TSS

 

Advertisements

August – balmy summer days…?

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Battling the freezing rain on the Associations 12 Hour (© Ellen Isherwood)

August was topped and tailed with visits to the V in Hull.  Hoping for fast days, at the start of the month we got the opposite, an unusually slow day.  More on the end of the month later.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

Normally, whilst not ideal, a westerly wind is okay if it’s not too strong.  I’ve set my PB on a day with a westerly.  However, on this day it was too strong on the inbound leg and it appeared to affect most of the field, apart from those at the very, very pointy end.  I paced the ride really well with a negative power split to enable me to push as hard as possible into the headwind back but my run of 19’s on the V stretching back to May 2016 came to an end with a 20:18!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

A week later and it was the Congleton CC 50 mile open on the J4/9 course.  I feel this is a better course than J4/16 but it has shorter laps so there can be some congestion later on.  It was a nice enough day although the wind, as ever, was more than you’d ideally like, albeit in the “correct” direction for this course.  I was really happy with my ride apart from the traffic, which seemed unusually high – I got held up many times and even ended up unclipping twice at key junctions.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ellen Isherwood

It was our club 50 championship and I was happy to come away with the win, plus Seamons won the team prize again so that was very satisfying.  8th from 100 riders (£60, 2nd on standard, 1st team)

Associations 12 Hour

On Sunday 20th August it was the WCTTA, MDTTA and LTTCA combined 12 Hour event in Shropshire.  The course was much changed from the one I rode last year (here) apart from the final 12.7 mile finish circuit.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I’d worked out a feeding and pacing strategy as best I could as didn’t really know the course so it was a guess really.  I also had a power number in mind based on what I did last year, and was pretty pleased to have got it within a watt by the end, although I somehow ended up with 2s and 5s power peaks of 1100W and 943W respectively, which is absolutely stupid on a 12 and very much a schoolboy error.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The glamour of amateur bike racing

It was pretty cool when I set off but the sky was clear and it warmed up during the morning.  The first circuit took us from Press Heath to Espley and then three laps down to Shaw Birch and back.  The outbound bit was headwind which was hard work and other than Peplow the surface was reasonable.  I didn’t stop during that first 70 miles other than for a call of nature, and then headed back to Prees to join the day circuit, a 22 mile loop around Redbrook, Welshampton, Quina Brook and Tilstock.  This was a new route to me and it was very rolling terrain, with a surface that was patchy in parts, especially some of the smaller rural roads. It would probably be very pleasant for a social ride apart from the unbelievably annoying and utterly pointless temporary traffic lights – two different sets of them!  The road barely narrowed where they were set up and on these quiet country lanes they seemed pretty unnecessary.  I got stopped a number of times.  The finish circuit reversed part of the day circuit through Tilstock and was the same as last year (with the addition of one of the sets of lights).  I didn’t realise at the time but since the event a few people asked me what was wrong in the first 100 miles.  Apparently I was well down in the standings but I was fine and just pacing things with the full 12 hours in mind.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Entering Tilstock

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Leaving Tilstock

To give me an idea of how hard to push it I taped the pacing sheet, and my scheduled stops, to my basebar.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

In comparison to the picture above my times were 50 – 02:07, 100 – 04:17, 150 – 06:28, 200 – 08:46 and 250 – 11:00.  What I didn’t factor in was the unscheduled traffic light stops.  This meant that instead of actually cutting the amount of time stopped from last years effort, I ended up stopping for more time, despite fewer food and drink stops.  In total I ended up being stopped for around 12 minutes – half of which was unplanned.

During the day it had been warm and I thought that wearing a base layer may have been a wrong choice.  However, around 4pm the temperature dipped as the clouds closed in and then the rain started.  And it was cold – a base layer was definitely the right choice!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ellen Isherwood

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ellen Isherwood

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ellen Isherwood

Last year I got slower and slower as the punishing road surface and the pain of staying in position took its toll.  In fact I ended up sat up last year at the end more often than being in tuck.  This year, apart from a few wobbles, I was much more capable of staying in position.  That’s not to say it didn’t hurt.  It really did.  A lot.  By the end my neck, shoulders and lower back were sore, as well as the obvious clacker area.  But my chest and front of my arms hurt too.  The rain also made it very cold so I was suffering from leg cramps at the same time as trying to push hard to keep my heart rate up and keep warm.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Upper – 2017 Lower – 2016

Although the pain is physical it requires mental strength to push through it.  You’d never get to the start of a 100 mile TT and say to yourself “nearly done, only 4 hours left” but that’s exactly what you do on a 12 after 8 hours!  Apparently, according to my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt I used over 9,000 kcalories.  Here’s what I ate/drank

  • Power gel shots
  • Power Go Energy double cappuccino gel
  • Power Go Energy mini bar x 3
  • Tesco chocolate rice cake x 3
  • ZipVit Zv7c cappuccino gel x 2
  • Clif shot bloks x 2
  • Power wafer bar x 3
  • Tesco spicy seed shot
  • Bottle of Hi5 Energy Source x 5

That still left me with a 6,000 kcalories deficit so I must be pretty efficient at converting fat to usable energy.

Towards the end I knew I was close to my target of 270 miles but alas the traffic lights put paid to that and despite a final push I finished just short!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

12 hours running and still 25% battery left – beats Garmin 520 comfortably

By the time I got back to my car I was borderline hypothermic and it took me ages to stop shivering!  My final official distance was revised down to 267.64 miles which is second in the Seamons club records but 1st all-age veteran.  Also, in the provisional results we missed out on the team prize by three quarters of a mile – incredible!  3rd from 50 riders (£75 – 3rd overall + 2nd team (1st M&D – LH Brookes Trophy))

Last year I didn’t really recover from the 12 and was tired for the remainder of the season.  I was a little bit more active in my recovery this time and I haven’t felt as tired.  So I was optimistic about the remaining races I’d entered.  Next up was the Withington Wheelers 10 on J2/1 but amazingly, yet again the course was subject to roadworks and temporary traffic lights!  A little used sporting course – J6/10 – was the substitute.  I’d ridden this once before – my first ever time trial nearly 7 years earlier.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

It was a very pleasant afternoon – sunny and relatively calm.  I made a bit of a mistake with my contact lenses which meant my vision wasn’t great and on a course I wasn’t familiar with, that was very twisty, narrow and rolling, I was slightly hesitant.  That said, I was happy enough with my power output and my overall performance.  7th from 79 riders (provisional – £20)

The day after it was my final trip to Hull to try and knock some seconds off my 10M PB.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

The HQ was at Hull Ionians rugby club, as opposed to Newport Village Hall, and it is a fantastic facility for an HQ, albeit the ride back was nearly as long as the race.  In sunny conditions it was a very pleasant way to cool down.  It was a much hotter day with calmer conditions than earlier in the month and as such I performed much better.  I was, however, 5s slower than my PB so it will realistically have to wait until 2018 for another tilt at it.  56th from 115 riders

During the month I managed 812 miles outdoors with 29,471ft ascent at around 19.1mph average, which used up around 28,494kcals. I spent 12 hours and 22 minutes on the turbo using a further 8,671kcals. Total for the month was 2,831TSS

 

100th 10 mile time-trial

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

This week saw me ride my 100th 10 mile time trial (and, indeed, my 250th time trial).  I did my first time trial on the 25th September 2010 (read about it here and picture below).  I did it on my road bike without a clue about aerodynamics and at a time when I was tipping the scales at around 78kg.  I managed to average 20.9mph to do it in a time of 28 minutes and 42 seconds.

Photo by Jon Williams. Me looking knackered

I felt sick immediately afterwards and vowed never to do it again!  7 months later and I tried my hand at club not-quite-10’s (8.75 miles) but it was 2012 before I did another open 10!

Fast forward nearly 7 years and I’ve just completed my 101st 10.  I’m less than 65kg and I managed to average 30.3mph to do it in a time of 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

It’s taken a bit of hard work to get to this point but importantly it’s not felt like it because it has been fantastic fun, and I’ve met some great people over the years.  Although I’m 50 years old I still see myself as a relative novice with plenty still to learn, and I look forward to trying to get faster.

Hopefully this might inspire a few people to give it a go.  If I can do this with no discernible natural talent, then so can anyone.

 

May – if you want to go faster you’ll have to scare yourself

Coming off the back of some disappointing rides in April I’d been doing a lot of thinking.  About training, about nutrition and about how I’ve been racing.  My conclusions included upping my carbohydrate intake and building on the limited VO2Max work I’d already done.  I also listened to a discussion with Joe Beer on the Cycling Time-Trials Podcast during which he mentioned the phrase above in the title.  I started to wonder if I wasn’t “scaring” myself enough i.e. I was always keeping a little something back.

Anyway, the first club 10 of the month was a windy affair and I paced it pretty well, if conservatively, on another sunny yet bitterly cold evening.  3rd from 34 riders

The weekend saw the first 50 of the season – the Dukinfield CC 50 around J4/16.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I made sure coming into this that I was well fueled and hydrated so I was feeling pretty good.  I had an idea of the power I wanted to ride at and I managed it very consistently, so I was pleased to come in with my best ever 50 mile power.  I was held up a small amount, but often that helps give you a breather in a 50 and is not usually a factor.  And I did have a small mishap when I dropped the gel I’d been carrying as I attempted to consume it, so by the end I was running on fumes.  Despite a few aches and pains I’d say that overall it went very much to plan and that gave me a lot of confidence that I can probably eek out a few more watts in the next one.  9th from 108 riders (£30 1st team)

On the following Monday (and then the next Friday and the next Monday) I took part in some sports science testing at the University of Chester.  You can read about that experience here.

The following club 10 was on a warm and fast night but I was tired and couldn’t take advantage off it.  I did manage to go a little bit faster off slightly less power.  2nd from 38 riders

Then it was back to good old J2/9 for the M&DTTA 25 championship.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I was aiming to ride at a power PB level on what was a blustery, but dry day.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hold it but overall it was a decent ride with decent power.  It was a confusing day in many ways – it felt very hard but also reasonably quick.  I managed my fastest time on J2/9 this season so I was happy with my ride.

There were some quick riders out so I was happy to nudge into the top ten and we won the team prize again.  10th from 104 riders (£30, 1st vet 45-49, 1st team)

I missed the midweek club 10 due to a work commitment so next up was the Stone Wheelers 25 on J5/8 – a fast dual-carriageway course on the A50, with the finishing stretch known as the “concrete mountain”!  The weather all week looked sketchy and as I arrived at HQ it was decidedly so!

I was thinking it may be called off but the organisers took a sensible decision to postpone the start by half an hour.  I don’t know what happened to the earlier riders but it meant that I managed to get all the way round without getting wet.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I’d expected a bit of a cross-tailwind out but somebody in the start queue said it would be on the way back so I was confused.  It felt fast when I started but I was conscious that I wanted to hold something back for coming back up the mountain.  As it was, going out I reached 42mph at a low wattage so I was unsurprised when the first 10 came up in around 19:05 without a significant effort. When it got to the turn the surface was very wet so I went around both roundabouts like I was on a shopping bike.  Back onto the DC and it still felt fast and I was pretty comfortable until I crossed the McDonald’s roundabout and started to make my way up the mountain, in what felt like a cross-headwind.  It was hard work and felt like a battle all the way – if you haven’t done it before it feels relentless.  Nevertheless I thought I was on for a fast time and was doing calculations in my head over the last two miles.  I missed the club 25 record by 13 seconds but I couldn’t be too disappointed as I took 32s off my 25 mile PB and ticked off a “51” – something I’ve been chasing since last season.  To cap it all myself, Alan and Chris won the team prize and set a new club team 25 record.  9th from 119 (£30, 6th on standard, 1st team)

A couple of hard training sessions and I had very heavy legs at the club 10 on a lovely warm evening – surprisingly the lowest turnout of the year.  2nd from 27 riders

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

At the weekend I had entered the Warrington RC 50M TT which also included the VTTA Manchester & NW 50M championship.  The weather forecast was a yellow warning for rain showers, and it was windy.  In fact, on my drive to the HQ down Twemlow Lane it was dry as I turned into the lane, halfway down there was torrential rain and then it was dry again at the end!  The organiser was especially worried about lightning but certainly for my ride it held off, with only a light shower towards the end.  As a ride it was frustrating.  I felt good but there was much more traffic on the roads than usual which meant getting held up – ignore what I said above about it not affecting a 50 too much!  I was held up at Chelford roundabout each pass and I was held up coming out of Gough’s Lane each time too.  In addition, lines of cars waiting to pass riders meant I was held up on some of the fast straights too, especially passing the Egerton Arms.  Also after the first pass over Chelford at 6 miles I hit a pothole and lost my bottle (actual, not metaphorical) which meant I ended up doing the entire 50 in warm, humid conditions without a drink.  By the end I was steadily losing power so I was happy with my time but it could easily have been a fair bit quicker.  10th from 97 riders (£20, 5th on standard, VTTA Manchester & NW – ES Ward Memorial Championship Cup)

What seemed like a good idea at the time I entered, on the Bank Holiday Monday I got up at stupid o’clock to ride the historic Anfield Bicycle Club 100 – possibly the oldest bicycle race in the world, dating back to 1889 I believe.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

The course started on the A53, across Espley roundabout to Tern Hill, then A41 to Press Heath and back.  A short diversion up to Muller Island and then back across Tern Hill and Espley for 4 loops of the A53, B5063/2, A442.  It didn’t take long after the start for me to realise I didn’t feel good.  My lower back and glutes were still sore from the 50 I’d done less than 48 hours before and I was struggling to put out the power I was aiming for (around 250W).  I didn’t seem to be making much headway against the cross-headwind.  Things picked up a bit after I crossed Espley and got onto the D25/8e course and with the help of a tailwind to Prees I felt a little better.  The turn back into the headwind put paid to that!  I was also uncomfortable on my saddle and my left arm/shoulder was hurting too.  At some point it started raining too compounding my increasing misery.  Again things picked up with the cross-tailwind all the way down to Shawbury before turning onto the B5063.  The combination of headwind and appalling surface-dressed road nearly finished me as I could see my power and speed drifting down.  Turning onto the A41 brought the delights of the Peplow Pavé to further rattle my fillings and I heard something ping off the bike – I later discovered I lost a bolt holding the saddle on.  A little bit of respite on the A53 and I passed the finish line for the first time.  The thought of 3 more laps and I wanted to cry, with dark thoughts filling my mind as the course passed within a mile or so of the HQ “There’s no shame in climbing off”  “Today’s not your day”  “Shouldn’t have done that 50”.  Instead I decided I would try another lap.  I was just about on 4 hour schedule at 50 miles which meant I wasn’t on schedule as I knew I’d get slower.  Everything was hurting – I was cold, wet and struggling to hold my power and my position.  It was a real fight and I didn’t really enjoy it, which is unusual for me.  Each lap I promised myself the next one would be the last – I’m such a liar!  My 10 mile lap power was dropping.  250W, 249W, 244W, 245W, 243W, 240W, 234W.  I rallied a bit at 70 miles with a double caffeine gel – 242W, 237W and then a final push of 246W.  I finished in just under 4 hours and 5 minutes, which was 5 minutes outside my target time.  It took me an hour afterwards to get warm and stop feeling sick!  (11th from 84 riders, £20, 1st vet 50-59, 6th in VTTA National 100)

The next day I felt okay, if not a bit achey, but two days later I awoke feeling ill and without going into gory details I need to stay close to the lavatory.  I was meant to ride the Seamons 10 mile club championship but I was tired just walking around so I was unable to do so.  It might seem a bit “no shit Sherlock” but it seems that at my age two big efforts inside 48 hours is beyond my body’s capabilities.  I’v had this type of illness before when I’ve overreached and I’m gutted I’ve fallen into the same trap again.  It can take weeks to recover properly so I’ve already cancelled this weekend’s races.  Sometimes, I am still an absolute idiot.

During the month I managed 609 miles outdoors with 19,906ft ascent at around 19.3mph average, which used up around 22,665kcals. I spent 16 hours and 53 minutes on the turbo using a further 12,530kcals. Total for the month was 2,717TSS 

 

April – Consistently Inconsistent

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

April fool’s day and I was at Goostrey for the Withington Wheelers 25 mile time trial on the challenging J2/9 course.  A full field, including a novice event, and rumours of lots of riders being turned away.  Incredible really for an early season event on a slow course.  April showers were falling as I drove there but thankfully it had stopped by the time I rolled up to the start.  First 25 of the season – probably going to hurt I reckoned.  I was right.  For the first five miles I felt rubbish.  Then I felt good for the next fifteen.  Hanging on for the last five was the best I could do at that point.  My back ached, my neck and shoulders were sore and I’d been fidgety all of the way round.  And it was pretty windy too.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Accelerating just after joining the A50 from Seven Sisters Lane. Courtesy and © Ellen Isherwood

I was, however, quite happy with the power I managed, although the time I recorded was my worst time since 2015, and in the end so was my finishing position – go figure!  15th from 120 riders

I decided I was going to tweak my position again.  Patience is not my thing!  I ordered a switchplate kit from Canyon that offsets the armrest stacks and allowed me to get my armrests into what I hope is the Goldilocks position (not too narrow, not too wide, just right…) and I added a cm or so to the height.  

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

My saddle moved forward a cm in an attempt to stop the fidgeting.

Speaking of position changes, somebody got pinged for a 3cm rule breach which was the cue for another flurry of posting on the time-trial forum.  The fact that the breach was identified via a picture only added to the storm, which threatened to escape the teacup and then some (something I talked about in this post here).  Having seen galleries from my races so far there are quite a few riders who, on the face of it, could have been in trouble, but that was their lookout.  However, it became clear that the CTT were not helping themselves by posting images of race winners in positions that were clearly contravening their own regulation, even if those pictures were old stock images.  And it hadn’t been mentioned once in an HQ, which is the complete opposite to the other regulation change for 2017 (signing out) which had been mentioned every time.  Anyway, to cut an already long story long, the CTT then announced a moratorium on the 3cm rule for 2017, meaning that anyone who had spent time and money on complying had effectively wasted both.  Distinctly not great for all involved.

Back to the racing.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

On Saturday 8th it was the VTTA National 10 mile championship on the J2/1 course.  The weather was absolutely fantastic – sunny and warm.  I didn’t really think I had a chance because the VTTA races are handicapped.  There is a “standard” time for each age from 40 upwards and the actual time is subtracted from the standard to give a “+” or “-” against the standard.  I came 4th overall on actual time but that only translated to 10th on standard.  The winner was, I believe, 86 years old and still doing a 10 miles in less than 30 minutes.  The 2nd place guy was 73 years old and did a 23:30!  Amazing and inspirational to anyone who thinks they are too old for competitive sport!  Frustratingly, myself and two other Manchester & NW Group riders (Darren and Mike) were only 16 seconds away from a Gold Medal for the fastest overall VTTA Section.  4th from 107 riders, 10th place in the Nationals on Standard 

Next up were three consecutive races over the Easter Weekend, starting with a chase for a fast time at the “V”.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

Luckily the rain that was falling as I sat in the car park died down and I managed my warmup and race in the dry.  I was expecting the ride out to the turn to be quick but it wasn’t and it felt harder than expected.  My time at the turn was considerably down on previous efforts although my power was up and I felt decent.  Coming back there were some really fast sections and I was gradually making up time.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Courtesy and © Craig Zadoroznyj

A really big effort and at the end I crossed the Line in 19:49 – 10 seconds down on my PB on what felt like a harder day.  I feel that with the right conditions I can really improve on it so I’ll be back!  37th from 108 riders

The wind was up in Cheshire on Saturday.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

One of the hardest days I can remember on J2/9.  The headwind from Chelford to Ollerton was very much hard work and featured twice, whereas the Twemlow Lane tailwind only featured once – it’s rarely fair!  Of course it’s the same for everyone and the faster riders dealt with it better than I did.  I felt good and my power reflected that but for the second time in a month I’ve recorded my worst time on this course for 2 years.  I’m happy with my position and feel it’s a bit better than last year but I got roundly beaten by a couple of riders who I beat/was close to last year so maybe I’ve stood still relatively speaking.  That said, a very close call with a car that didn’t see me meant I was a) shaken up for a while and b) happy enough to finish in one piece.  Onwards and upwards.  10th from 97 riders (£10 1st team)

The final piece in my Easter racing jigsaw was a stupid o’clock start to get to Tilstock.  I wasn’t expecting much and accepted wisdom is not to do two races consecutively, let alone three, but I enjoy racing much more than training so there you have it!  It was a cold morning with a stiff breeze but nowhere near as bad as Saturday.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I was expecting to feel the effects of Friday and Saturday but it soon became apparent that I wasn’t.  In fact I felt strong and was happily maintaining a very decent power output.  Normally, if I do two 25’s consecutively I am at least 10W down during the second.  Today my power was higher.  My minute man was a DNS but after about 10 minutes I could see the lady who had started two minutes ahead of me.  A couple of HGVs went past me on a straight section, followed by a couple of cars, but then we were quickly into a fairly twisty section and on the narrow A road they inevitably struggled to get past the rider in front.  When I analysed my data file for power and cadence I started to ease off at about 00:11:50.  By 00:12:00 my cadence and power drop to zero and apart from one spike in the middle it was 00:12:23 before I start pedalling again!  I missed the podium by 8 seconds and 1st on standard by 20 seconds, but who’s to say that the breather I got didn’t spur me on to better efforts afterwards, so you just put it down to experience.  The wind made the section from Tern Hill to Emsley hard going (but easy back) but then again after the turn back for home at Tern Hill there were long sections where 350W was getting me just under 25mph – very hard work indeed.  At the end I equalled my best time for this course on a day when many other riders struggled, and I beat a few that I didn’t expect to (i.e. the complete opposite of the day before).  A final word on the winner who tabled a 49, which I understand to be not just a course record but a county record!  That’s 30mph average over this course – ridiculous and awesome in equal measures!  4th from 111 riders (£20, 2nd on standard)

Club 10’s also started after Easter.  I made a bit of a hash of the first one, missing my start time due to some faulty overshoes delaying me, so when I set off I went off like a complete idiot and faded badly near the end meaning I was well beaten.  3rd from 37 riders

Leigh Premier’s 10 at D10/1 was the following Saturday.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

There was a delay to the start as the local council had decided to cut the grass verges – who knew local councils worked at the weekend?  The weather was sunny but a stiff breeze meant that most of the ride would be either tailwind or headwind.  I managed to get my pacing just right – going harder on the headwind (and uphill) sections and easing back fractionally with the wind at my back, so I was really happy with my ride.  You heard it here first – a tester happy with a ride and not making excuses!  4th from 74 riders (£20, 1st on standard)

The next club 10 was FREEZING!  On the back of a block of hard training sessions and a -ve Training Stress Balance (TSB) I expected to be tired and struggle so I took it easy at the start.  As it was I felt okay so ended up with a bit in hand at the end but was in the bizarre situation of having sweat dripping off me whilst simultaneously not being able to feel my fingers or toes!  More importantly the marshalls and volunteers deserve special thanks for standing around in that!   2nd from 29 riders

I’m not sure if the hard week and some issues with sleep caught up with me but after two decent races it all came down to earth with a bump!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

The East Lancs Road Club 10 was a re-run of the J2/1 course earlier in the month.  This time the wind was giving a bit of a shove on the way out and a bit of a smack on the way back.  I didn’t really have a clue that it would be a bad day for me until riding to the start when I felt a little queasy.  After the start I felt very queasy but put it out of my mind as I thought it would go – it’s not unusual to feel bad in some way at the start of a TT until your body adjusts to the effort.  Unfortunately mine didn’t on this occasion and I felt bad all through the ride and I simply could not sustain any level of power.  At the end I’d lost nearly a minute on my time from 3 weeks earlier which was unsurprising as my power was 17W less, and even less than my last 25 mile race.  Consequently I lost a lot of ground to many of my peers in the overall standings.  18th from 105 riders

The next morning I was hoping I felt better as it was the VTTA National 15 Mile Championship on V728 in Hull.  I had never ridden a 15 before so was looking forward to it.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

The wind was really blowing when I arrived.  It was blowing such that the outbound leg would be a block headwind and the return would be a tailwind.  Riding to the start was a crosswind and it was flicking my deep section front wheel continually.  When I started the force of the headwind was quite staggering.  But it was also swirling which meant the front wheel was catching it again.  It was pretty sketchy and meant that my speed was dropping as low as 18mph on sections and by the time I took the turn and rejoined the return leg I’d done the first 8 miles in 20 minutes.  By complete contrast the return leg was how I imagine Brad Wiggins or Alex Dowsett feels – super-fast and relatively effortless!  I think I changed out of 56-11 only once, my speed (on the flat) peaked just over 40mph and I completed the second 7 miles in just under 13 minutes.  My power was still a bit down and I still didn’t feel 100% but I was happy enough in those conditions. 22nd from 129 riders

So how do I assess the season so far.  Well, it hasn’t been what I wanted it to be.  My power is all over the place, which I can’t explain given how well (I thought) my training had been going.  And other people have improved beyond me.  On the positive side I’ve ridden my course best times on J2/1, J2/3, D10/1 and D25/8e.  I’ve also had some times on courses that are my worst for several years!  I’ve had some rides I’m really pleased with and then some that were just horror shows.  I can’t explain it, let alone try to fix it, but I need to try to get some consistency because next month the longer races start.

During the month I managed 453 miles outdoors with 18,146ft ascent at around 18.4mph average, which used up around 16,364kcals. I spent 20 hours and 33 minutes on the turbo using a further 15,435kcals. Total for the month was 2,571TSS

And we’re off – sort of…

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The race season starts in March – for me anyway.  After a winter holed-up training indoors it always feels like the light at the end of the tunnel when the first race comes around.  Cue the stirring music.

Excited.

Ready.

(Sound of needle scratching across vinyl…)

Disappointment.

The M&DTTA 10 on Saturday 11th was moved from J4/17 to J2/3 due to roadworks.  Earlier in the week the forecast was for strong winds and rain but it was dry with relatively light winds on the day.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

It was good to catch up with folks again and just be around an HQ again.  Hearing about their winter training.  Looking at shiny new kit.  Chewing the fat.

Down to business and everything went fine in my warmup and I felt okay.  I’d not trained in my new position over the winter but didn’t think that would be a big deal – I’ve never done that in any previous winter.  What I have done in the past though, which weather and time didn’t permit me this year, was take the TT bike out and ride at full speed for a few practice 10’s.  Riding to the start in position I started to realise I didn’t feel comfortable at all, a sensation that worsened as I set off.  My new-for-this-season Aerocoach armrests really dig in at the sides so they’ll take some getting used to, and my new lower front end and extended neck position were very uncomfortable.  A few miles in I was struggling to maintain the power output and by the time I reached the turn I was well down on where I thought I should be power-wise. I tried to push on hard, trying to use the discomfort as a motivator, which worked until I was held up by a queue of traffic trying to pass a slower rider and had to back off.  The breather I got meant I could attack the last mile so I recovered a bit but still finished nearly 20W down on the same ride last year, albeit only 1s slower.  It was a big disappointment because it’s the first time I’ve started the season with a worse performance than the previous season.  I knew I’d feel bad in the first race, I always do.  But not this bad.  With a couple of days hindsight I decided it wasn’t as bad as I first thought and I suspected it was down to the position and being race-rusty having not been out for a practice run – after all my average power increased in the second half of the race, even with a big drop due to being held up by traffic.  8th from 63 riders (£10 3rd veteran on standard, £10 1st team)

So I decided to bite the bullet and try training in position the following week.  I also swapped turbo trainers to a smart trainer that arrived after several months on back-order.  All I can say is wow!  It was (is) much harder and being in position definitely elevated my heartrate and made my legs hurt in all new ways!  By the weekend I was feeling more confident but realised it probably wouldn’t be a quick fix.  On a related note I’ve also been playing about with Zwift on the days when I’m supposed to be doing “easy” sessions – unfortunately it does somewhat draw you into going a bit harder than you should!  It is very clever though, especially the simulated road effect when you are riding over virtual cobbles or gravel, and the noticeable effects of inclines and drafting!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The weather forecast  for the next Saturday race was pretty awful and it was spot on!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I was much more comfortable when I set off but it didn’t take long to realise that I was still struggling to maintain my power.  What I realised was that everything felt compressed and I think that was affecting my breathing in some way.  Mentally I just ignored it and tried to push harder which worked a little bit (my power after the turn into the headwind wasn’t so bad but nowhere near the gains I’d seen on the turbo).  As per usual on this course I was held up a little bit, but I was also pretty wet and towards the end the visor of my helmet was steaming up.  I shaved a couple of seconds off and moved up a couple of places.  6th from 78 riders (£15, 1st veteran on standard)

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Left – 2107, Right – 2016

Looking at my bike afterwards I realised that the Aerocoach armrests were really clamping my elbows much closer together than my previous stock armrests – it’s quite noticeable in the picture above, drawing my shoulders in and compressing my chest.  I wondered if this may have something to do with the power drop, so when I got home I moved the rests one bolt hole wider – effectively an inch on each side.  Time for an experiment with the next race, but during the week I also tried it on the turbo.  During a flat warmup of 200W my HR was static at around 117bpm.  As soon as I clamped my elbows together (simulating the position on the left in the picture) my HR went up 10bpm at the same power.  Back to the original (right) position and my HR went down again.  This was repeated several times with the same results.

The race on Saturday was with the armrests in the “wide” position.  At the start it was a bit of a shock to the system because the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

I felt much more comfortable and pushed hard but was still well down on power – although I posted my best time on this course.  Still it was a lovely day and I enjoyed the race.  7th from 62 riders (£7.50 Joint 3rd on standard, £15 1st team)

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Courtesy and © Ellen Isherwood

It’s a hard course on which to maintain a pedalling rhythm, due to the narrow lanes and traffic slowing riders, but as I’ve done it before I doubt that is the reason.  As I can push big numbers out of position on the turbo I can only suspect that it is something to do with my new position overall and hope that I adapt to it over the coming weeks.  Here’s a comparison of my last 5 rides on J2/3.

  Time Average Power Air Pressure
19 March 2016 22:30 314W 1.272
12 April 2016 22:22 308W 1.229
11 March 2017 22:31 295W 1.232
18 March 2017 22:29 298W 1.228
25 March 2017 22:12 301W 1.24

Maybe I’m just getting old and it’s downhill for my power from here!  I hope not.

April will be a busy month, with 8 races all in including the first 25s of the season.  It will be interested to see what power I can maintain on those – last year it was about 95% of my 10 power.  If I haven’t adapted to my position at the end of that lot I never will!

In the meantime I’ve reduced my FTP in the various training packages I use, in recognition that I need to train more in position where my power is clearly lower.  It’s also still worth me remembering that I have not finished my training plan yet.  I need to do some more VO2Max intervals which I will be doing over the next couple of months.  I keep forgetting that I deliberately built my plan around peaking towards May and not March like last year.

For interest, here’s the training software I use

  • TrainingPeaks online – overall training plan and recording of TSS, CTL etc.
  • TrainerRoad – individual specific training plans and workouts
  • Zwift – still looking at this for workouts, recovery rides
  • Rubitrack (stored locally) – complete ride history
  • Strava – used as a hub for synchronisation
  • Garmin Connect – used as a hub for synchronisation

It’s a pain that some things will sync with Connect whereas others will only sync with Strava but it’s all set up and working so I’m loath to mess about with it now – they’re both free and I rarely look at them anyway.  TrainingPeaks is my go-to recording software and TrainerRoad my go-to workout software.

That’s it for this month.  During March I managed 358 miles outdoors with 17,700ft ascent at around 16mph average, which used up around 12,852kcals. I spent 28 hours and 42 minutes on the turbo using a further 23,626kcals. Total for the month was 2,887TSS

Opening a can of worms… 3cm rule

I’m sure there are many people who ride time trials in the UK who have a level of ignorance of all of the rules involved.  I know I don’t know them all and I really should.  Over the years I’ve picked up all the important ones (I think) but I haven’t read all of them cover to cover.  For many, though, I expect that they have never been particularly familiar with the 3cm rule which has been in force, I’m told, for many, many (20+ ?) years.  It’s tucked away in Regulation 14 (d) and the 2017 update states
(d)  Machines fitted with triathlon handlebars and derivations thereof which have forearm supports, or Spinacci type handlebars without forearm supports, may be used provided that when the rider adopts a competitive position on these bars:
    (i)  The wrists are no lower than the elbows.
    (ii)  The point of the elbow (olecranon) is no more than 3 centimetres in front of the steering axis when measured perpendicular (at right angles) to that axis.  This measurement is illustrated by the following diagram:
Ade's Road Cycling Blog

CTT diagram – “3cm rule”

Now it’s been there for a quite a while and was introduced, I understand, to ensure that the “superman” positions being tried by riders such as Chris Boardman and Graham Obree were not dangerously introduced to British roads (although this is based on conjecture because nobody seems to recall exactly why this rule was introduced).  Recently, though, more and more people have been adopting aero positions that take their elbows quite a bit further forward of the steering axis and hence for 2017 the clarification (including the diagram) was passed into regulation.  This has caused an absolute sh*tstorm on the main timetrialling forum.  The last time I looked there were over 100 pages, much of it accusation and recrimination.
As far as I can see there are a number of objections including the arbitrary nature of the rule and the enforceability of it.  I’m not going to get into an opinion piece on this blog other than to say a couple of things
  1. It’s a rule, however arbitrary, and therefore I need to comply with it
  2. As with many rules simply having it may well be enough to encourage the majority of people to comply (which is the main point of a rule)
  3. However, for those that don’t, it appears that to enforce it will rely on other people “reporting” riders using  either witnesses or photographs as evidence – which doesn’t really encourage the kind of community I want to be part of (or think I’m currently part of)
  4. Simply witnessing it is almost impossible.  Indeed, the measurement from a photograph is fraught with difficulty for a number of reasons.  So enforceability will be an issue.
I’m going to attempt to illustrate this using pictures and videos of me racing and in my new position.  My new position is, I believe, compliant as shown below.  However, if I over-reach during a gear change, which can easily happen when you’ve been riding at the edge of fatigue for several hours, it might just drift out.  So do I change position to account for that or not?  So let’s get into the problems
Identifying the steering axis
Now this seems like the least of our problems.  On a bike with a standard headset (see the CTT diagram above) it’s fairly straightforward.  On a lot of modern TT bikes the cockpit at the front is fully integrated.  So on my Canyon to work out where the actual steering axis is you have to look very closely.  On the pictures below I’ve marked it with yellow sticker on the bike
Ade's Road Cycling Blog
Ade's Road Cycling Blog
Ade's Road Cycling Blog
Identifying the problem as a witness
Here’s a video of me at the velodrome.  It’s helpful because it’s slowed down at points. Freeze it at 00:12s to see my position in motion.  Try to see whether I’m complying at full speed from 00:18s onwards.  It’s pretty difficult.  You can see slow motion again around 01:15s
Identifying the problem from a photo

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

That’s still quite tough but obviously we can blow digital photos up.  Luckily, in this picture, the photographer caught me virtually side on, meaning there are no real issues with perspective or angle.  Of course then you get into the issues with telephoto lenses, depth of field and other such complexities that make an accurate measurement even harder.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

But even now we still don’t have my helpful yellow steering axis line there.  And my bike is unhelpfully matt black, making it a bit harder still.  Not impossible, but hard. So it’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out.  I intend to keep the following pictures because to my mind they show that my position (albeit in a static position) is compliant with the regulation.  I think that’s all everyone can do.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Conclusion
I wonder how many people really knew about and understood this rule?  I also wonder if the timetrialling forum is representative of the overall community and whether there will be the problems in 2017 that are being furiously discussed on there?  I suspect there may well be a couple of early season “reports” made by individuals to hammer home their points.  There are some very, very vociferous people who seem hellbent on proving their point.  So worst case and we could end up with some sort of trial by internet.  If you are getting ready for the season, my advice is to take the opportunity now to make sure you are compliant, as best you can in a static environment.  Doing the photos above was a pain and quite difficult to do on my own.  I know they aren’t completely accurate but I think they are enough to set my mind at rest that I am compliant, being aware as I am that once riding, the dynamic nature of it during a 20min, 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 12hr timeframe will almost certainly change my position on the pads at points during the ride.
Here’s hoping it’s a storm in a teacup.

First 12 Hour Time Trial

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

And we’re off!

I’d been worried about this for a quite a while and when the alarm went off at 3-15am and we drove towards Prees Heath in the dark, the pouring rain and swirling wind did nothing to ease my concerns.  By the time the sun had come up the rain had stopped but the wind remained, and would do so for the entire day.  More on that later.

Clubmates Pauline and Jeanette were also doing their first 12 hours with support from John and Paul.  Both kindly offered to provide me with some support on the Anfield loop as Liz and Kate would be stuck at Prees island, an offer gratefully received.

The route had three sections.  Three times round a 20 mile circuit between Prees and Espley, the only part I was familiar with.  Then up to six times round a 17.5 mile circuit from Espley (the Anfield loop) and then back to Prees and as many times round the 12.5 miles finishing loop as time allowed.  The link below shows the route I took

https://www.relive.cc/view/684279680

I’d prepared a whole set of instructions for Liz and Kate about what I’d need at each stop.  On the first 3 loops I was okay because I’d be back every 20 miles.  I’d then be on my own for 125 miles or so with the limited supplies I’d given John.  Fairly early into the ride the plans went out of the window because my needs were changing as the rode wore on.  Next time I do one of these I’ll have a much better idea of what to do.

The first three loops were okay – the wind was pretty tough coming back – but energy levels were high.  I changed my helmet after the third one because the first one was steaming up and hurting my neck a bit. Then it was off to the Anfield Loop.  I was worried about this bit because forums were talking about the “Peplow Pave” – a very rough section of road.  The worst bit however was the first stretch from Espley which was slightly uphill into a fierce head/crosswind.  I stupidly took a bottle from John on the move on this section and nearly ended up in the road due to the wind – suffice it to say I stopped the next time!  The Peplow bit was bad but not really worse than Cheshire courses – it was just the cumulative effect of it.  As I was travelling reasonably quickly I was treated to the full six laps.  After three hours my neck and shoulders were quite sore.  After five or so hours my knee was hurting.  Undercarriage, forearms and wrist were also starting to protest.  The only way to get through this sort of thing is to break it down into smaller and smaller chunks, so I’d worked out the bits of the course were I got some respite and counted the laps down to those sections.  I was spending more and more time off the aero bars and on the drops because it was more comfortable, which cost me speed.  Interestingly, from a fitness point of view, I never felt troubled, and probably could have gone faster were I not in pain.  Finally, I was directed back to Prees for the finishing circuit.  I stopped for a re-application of chamois cream (Elite Ozone Endurance – the best chamois cream I’ve used bar none) and for some deep heat on my neck and shoulders.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Still smiling 190 miles in…

The finish circuit consisted of a short stint up the A41 before turning off down the backroads through Tilstock and down to Quina Brook.  This first bit of country road was horrible.  The surface-dressed road and headwind made it purgatory.  It was more aero-efficient to go into a tuck on this section but the surface and the nature of the road just made it agony.  There were some sections after this that were really nice and quite quick and then we turned left and back towards Prees, up a short incline.  By the end this incline felt a bit like an Alp but at least there was a 30mph+ downhill on the other side!  Back at Prees a crowd of supporters had gathered and it was fantastic to receive support as we went past – it’s a real boost before the horrible bit of the finish circuit!  After 10 hours I had a bit of a surge which lasted for half an hour – then I was just surviving – especially when it started chucking it down for the last hour or so.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

You can see my pace get slower and slower…

In fact I probably could have got a few more miles in but I was cold and in pain so I timed my ride to end at the timing point nearest the car park!  My official distance was 263.64 miles and I came eighth.  Thank you to Liz and Kate for their support, and to John and Paul.  And congratulations to Pauline and Jeanette for also finishing their first 12’s.  And a massive thanks to all the organisers, volunteers and marshalls – an incredibly well run event.

I told Liz she could slap me if I ever said I’d do another but I reckon on a good day (i.e. less wind) I could seriously beat that distance.  Here’s the lessons I’ve learned

  • I spent over 10 minutes stopped.  Doesn’t seem a lot but that’s 3 to 4 miles.  I think I could reduce that
  • I’d reduced my tyre pressures to provide a bit more comfort – probably should have reduced them further
  • My whole nutrition approach would change – I overestimated what I’d need
  • A bit more mobile support team would have made life a lot easier
  • A bit more training in aero position to help the neck and shoulders and using my more comfortable TT helmet from the start
Ade's Road Cycling Blog

This is what 264 miles does to you…

Season’s Here!

Ade's Road Cycling BlogThe season has started!

Four races in March signalled the start of the season and first attempts to see whether a winter of my own custom training plan had paid dividends.

The first race was a Manchester & District TT Association (M&DTTA) 10 on the J4/17 course.  The weather was pretty good, with a temperature of around 10˚C and a lightish 7mph southerly wind.  I felt pretty good all the way around and was happy when I crossed the line with a new power PB (season goal – tick) and a time of 22:14, which was over a minute quicker than I’d done before on the course.  5th from 56 (2nd on standard – £20 prize)

A week later it was the first of the Cheshire points series races, another M&DTTA 10 but on the J2/3 course.  It was bit colder at 8˚C and with a stiffer 9mph north-easterly.  My time of 22:30 was good enough to help my new club, Seamons, to the team prize and a podium place for me (season goal – tick).  2nd from 96 riders (£15 prize + £10 team)

On Good Friday I went to the V718 course in Hull.  It’s widely acknowledged to be the fastest 10 course in the country and as such it’s very popular, with many of the best riders in the country riding.  For once the wind wasn’t blowing a gale and was a helpful 9mph WNW on a chilly 9˚C morning.  I’ve been chasing a “19” since last season so I made sure my preparation was spot on.  One of the things that makes the V a fast course is traffic but there was relatively little at 10am on Good Friday, but it’s still a startlingly fast course.  With the wind almost directly behind me on the way out there were times I was spinning out at 38mph on a 53-11 gearing.  My first 5 miles, including the start and the turn, took 9m 16s.  The 5 miles back, which I did at 12W more power, took over a minute longer.  I crossed the line at 19:39 and finally ticked off a goal that had eluded me for a season.  There were some very fast rides, including the winner posting a “17”, but I am pleased that I managed to come 21st in a high quality field.  21st from 121 riders

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The second of the M&DTTA 10’s was the day after my trip to Hull.  The weather was very different.  12.5˚C but with a southerly wind of 25mph with gusts up to 50mph.  As soon as I started I knew I was in trouble.  Even the relatively sheltered Twemlow Lane start had me struggling to stay on a line and it got worse from there.  On the A535, particularly the very exposed parts, I was getting blown all over the road.  The worst thing was that it wasn’t consistent, it was swirling and hitting from both sides.  At one point, down near the sandworks I very nearly got blown off the bike, such was the force the crosswind hit me.  I spent much of the outbound leg on the drops rather than the aerobars.  After getting held up at the Chelford roundabout I was hoping the inbound leg would be a bit easier but if anything it was worse and I have to say I lost my nerve and spent most of it on the drops.  I finally reached the finish line and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve never been more relieved to do so in any race.  8th from 64 riders (2nd on standard – £15 prize)

March is normally a consolidation month where I try to transfer the gains I’ve made on the turbo to the bike.  I’m delighted with the start I’ve made but there is more to come.  Despite ticking off three season goals already, I still haven’t put the same power out on the bike that I have done on the turbo, which is a complete opposite to last season!  April sees the start of the 25’s, which is my favourite distance, so I am looking forward to that!

Overall, during the month I rode a rather paltry 317 road miles, with a very flat 14,158ft of climbing at an average speed of around 16.7mph.  I used 10,584kcals of energy, with another 22,299kcals during 28hrs and 38mins of turbo time.  Total training stress was 2,828TSS.

 

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.