Category Archives: time trialling

2012 London Olympics #1

I managed to get to a couple of Olympic events and spent a day in the park. It’s been a fantastic meeting.

The next few posts will consist of some badly taken photographs.

The first event I went to was the Men’s and Women’s cycling time trial. I was invited to Surbiton (about 5km from the finish) by a friend from my Willesden CC days. It was great to meet up with the West London gang again.

My photos of the women’s event were (even more) rubbish so they are not included. Emma Pooley did a great ride but the course did not suit her.

The men’s race was dominated by Bradley Wiggins. I didn’t photograph any of the leading contenders because I wanted to be there in the moment.

Friends

Friends taking photographs (using cameras that cost more than £30, I shouldn’t wonder)

Albasini

Albasini of Switzerland

Boom

Lars Boom (the big Dutchman) of the Netherlands

Crowds

Crowds – if you make it free, they will come.

Swede

A Swedish rider. About the only one I got in focus from this side of the road.

Race #1 of 2012

Yesterday was the first race of the season for me. It was the Southborough and District Wheelers‘ open 10 mile time trial on a course (the Q10/33) near Tenterden.

I’ve only been training since the start of the year so it felt a bit early to be going flat out. However, the good weather we’ve been having has meant that it’s been possible to get out on the bike consistently. I’ve built up to an average of about 100 miles a week. I’ll probably tick over at this level – I’m trying to be a bit less obsessive about the biking this year (it’s going to be a busy year for all sorts of reasons).

I’ve started logging my rides on Strava. This has added a bit of edge to regular rides. Some of the drags are Strava segments and every time I climb them I’m measuring my time against my PB. I’m not convinced that the distance measured is constant (the Garmin GPS optimises the data points) but it does seem to have improved my hill efforts.

Anyways… As it was the first race for a while I got properly anxious in the week leading up to the event. The day before the race I developed a Herbert Lom type tic in my left eye. If I met you at the race, I wasn’t winking – honest.

I arrived at the HQ three hours before my start time. This was a little obsessive – no one else was there, not even the organiser. It did give me time to ride the course first. It’s a great country lane course with a swooping descent in the first half and a rough-surfaced climb through a woods on the way back.

Q10/33 profile

Q10/33 profile from Strava.com

The weather was so good that I wore a skinsuit. I hadn’t wanted to do this – overweight and fluffy-legged – but longs would have been oppressive in these temperatures.

The race itself was okay. The stated aim was to beat 30 minutes (‘evens’) and the real aim was to beat 28 minutes. At the finish I recorded 28:22. That seems a fair reflection of my current form.The race was won by team mate Peter Tadros (In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp) with a 20:53.

All being well I’ll race again in about a month and then pick up a few club events before trying to be more consistent through June and July. We’ll see!

Cycling targets 2012

I never thought that I’d be doing this. I’ve only been back on the bike three weeks, so it’s probably a bit premature, but here goes.

It’s going to be quite a low key season. The work I have lined up precludes many weekend events and there are exciting things going on in the family this year that knock out a few more.

However, targets give focus so here are a couple to be going on with. They’re not very SMART because I’m a bit dubious about the value of SMARTness for what is effectively a recreational season.

1. Do a decent ride in the Ross-on-Wye and District CC 25 mile TT in July.

This event (my Dad’s memorial race) has been a regular on my schedule since I’ve come back to racing. It’s on a faster course this year as well.

2. Put together an improving sequence of rides in the In-Gear evening 10m TTs.

In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp are running ten evening 10s from the end of May onwards. They’re all on the same course so it’ll be easy to compare performances.

I also hope to ride some Eastbourne Rovers CC and Lewes Wanderers CC evening events again. I may manage to finally get to some Rye and District Wheelers CC and Hastings and St Leonards CC club events as well.

In terms of other opens… There is a Southborough and District Wheelers 10 in March, a couple of ESCA events in April, a VTTA 10 and a Southborough 25 in June and perhaps a couple of late season events in September and October. This is nowhere near the number that I’d normally ride. I can’t say that I’ll miss all those early starts.

One event I’d like to ride is the Duo Normande 2 up TT in Normandy at the end of September. I’d need to be a great deal wealthier and fitter to make that happen.

Cycling review of 2011

This shouldn’t take long.

I started a new job in May. It has weekend working and a variable schedule which made it difficult to keep to training plans and made weekend racing tricky to programme. So I slowed down then stopped the racing. And then slowed down and then stopped the cycling. I haven’t been on the bike since August.

But it’s not about the job of course. the job was just the excuse pushing at an open door. The racing was getting difficult because I was going slower. Motivation is a problem when there is no incentive. The house move in March meant that I had lost my support network.

Support network sounds grand doesn’t it. What I mean is those people who get after you if you start taking it easy: the Willesden CC, the Minet Ladies CC, the veterans at the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, the Imperial Winter Series and so on. Living in a new place means you have to be a self-starter until you find the local networks. I did this for a while… and then stopped doing it.

Will I ride a bike again? I’ve got a hell of a lot invested in kit. That’s probably not enough of an incentive to tempt me out on a day like today (cold, wet and windy).

The one thing that might persuade me back onto the road again is that I’ve started putting on weight. The new job, with its outdoor work and requirement for nervous energy, has kept the pounds off during the season. Since November I’m working less and the pounds are creeping back on. I hate being fat.

If I do race next year I think I’ll stick to club races. There’s a really good calendar of evening events in East Sussex. I do like riding opens, but down here the weekend events always start early in the morning (in most areas the Saturday races are in the afternoon). Two early starts (3-5am say) in a row are no fun, especially if you’re riding like a slug.

I don’t think I can afford to set targets for next year. They get me down and, in the end, become counter productive.

Some statistics for the year:

Fastest 10 miles TT – 25:52 on 9th May on the G10/87 course (compared to a PB of 23:37)

Fastest 25 miles TT – 1:05:33 on 8th May on the Q25/8 course (compared to a PB of 59:07)

16 races ridden. This compares to 48 in 2010.

2,615 miles in training (so far). This compares to 6,786 miles in 2010. I’ve never exceeded 10,000 miles in a year.

633 miles in January was the most miles in a month this year. The disruption of the house move and then new job kicked in around March.

First photo

I know I’m not riding the bike at the moment, but I’ve just bought the first photo of me in the new team kit. It was taken in the last few metres of the damp Don Woodman 25m TT near Abergavenny. You can just make out the not very aerodynamic wooden block under the arm rests that stops them slipping down.

Cycling

Photo by John Richards

Race #16 – Is that it?

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

Last weekend we went to Ross-on-Wye for my now annual attempt to ride the Ross-on-Wye and District CC 25 mile TT. The race is run in memory of my father.

It’s a much longer trip now – over four hours of driving. We stopped at Chedworth Roman Villa on the way there. The torrential rain stopped just as we got there. It’s a fine site and will be amazing next year when the mosaic floors are back on view.

I had thought (hoped?) the rain might lead to the cancellation of Sunday’s ’25’ but it was merely drizzling as the event started. Quite a few riders elected not to ride. I hadn’t ridden in anger for a couple of months and not at all for two or three weeks. This was going to be an ‘exhibition’ ride.

The first half of the race is mostly downhill and had a tailwind. I reached the turn in around 31 minutes, so I knew it was going to be hard coming back. In fact it got progressively harder – the wind rising and the rain increasing as the slope went up. I was pretty much on my knees at the end. Last year I did a 1:3:14, this year a 1:8:53. It’s true that training makes a difference then.

Race stats: Time: 1:8:53 (21.78mph). First 12.5 miles: 31:09, last 12.5 miles: 37:44. Top speed: 30.4mph. Slowest mile (19): 3:22 (17.82mph), fastest mile (2): 2:14 (26.87mph). Average HR: 166bpm, maximum HR: 173bpm. Average cadence: 74rpm. 28th of 34 finishers. Winner: Simon Harradine (Leisurelakesbikes.com) 55:14

A big thank you to organiser Paul Stephens and his team, particularly the marshalls who got a real soaking while directing us around the course.

I have no more races planned now.

It was good to catch up with family and friends. We finished the trip with a visit to Raglan Castle before heading home. I may write about Raglan later.

One more race (at least)

I haven’t ridden a bike for a couple of weeks. Do I feel guilty? Well, yes I do… a bit.

This season had been difficult with the house move, but I’d caught up with my training and the fitness levels were good. When the new job came along it allowed plenty of time for training and the commuting potential would add another element to my schedules.

So why quit? I guess that I was looking for an excuse. My performances this year have been dire. Without the positive feedback of any improvement – in fact a deterioration in performance – sustaining interest was always going to be difficult when another obsession offered itself.

I love making progress, whether that be physical fitness or learning a new subject. I’ve taught myself to persist more than I used to when things get difficult, but there seems to be a limit. And I’ve reached that with the bike at the moment.

I’ve entered my dad’s memorial race on Sunday 17th July. It’s organised by his last club – Ross-on-Wye and District CC. It starts and finished in the splendidly named Llanvihangel Crucorney sitting below Skirrid mountain. It looks as if I’ll be riding it on memory rather than proper preparation. That’ll work.

I’m just wondering whether it’ll be my last ever race.

Why no races?

I haven’t ridden any cycle races recently. When the new job started I stopped entering open events. I reckoned that I needed to devote attention to my new role. I did think, however, that I would keep training and riding club events in the evenings when I was free. This hasn’t happened so far. Why?

I think I was looking for an reason to kick back. This season has been disappointing. It’s taken me longer to get fit and, even when I did get the numbers up to the right level, the race performances were poor. When an excuse offered itself I jumped at it. The fact that a lot of people manage to work full time and race at a high level was neither here nor there. I couldn’t cut it.

I don’t like to quit. But I wasn’t getting anywhere. The reason I race is to get positive feedback. I’ve learnt to persevere through the lean times, but this season has – so far – been beyond lean.

Ross-on-Wye and Dist CCI do hope to ride Ross‘s open events in Mid-July. They were my Dad’s club and the Sunday ’25’ is his memorial event. With this modest target in mind I have to start building up the mileage again and trying to get some race sharpness with the evening club tens.

 

Race #15 – Distracted

Last night was the fourth Lewes Wanderers‘ club 10m TT at East Hoathly (G10/87). Conditions were breezy, even windy in places. As last week, most of the headwind was on the homeward stretch, though it was predominantly a crosswind.

After a couple of faster rides for the last two weeks I managed to put in my slowest ride of the season on this course. This was still a minute faster than last Thursday’s effort on the Pevensey minefield though. Winner Nic Baldo went 7 seconds faster than Thursday. The handlebars, with their jury rigged props in place, stayed put – hooray!

I lost time most of the way around the course – 5-10 seconds per mile. I was on training wheels and wearing a standard road lid, so some of the losses were probably due to aero inefficiency and increased rolling resistance. The rest were due to me being distracted by the new job starting tomorrow.

Race stats: Time: 26:51 (22.35mph). First 5 miles: 12:09, last 5 miles: 14:42. Top speed: 30.9mph. Slowest mile (6): 3:11 (18.85mph), fastest mile (5): 2:15 (26.67mph). Average HR: 164bpm, maximum HR: 169bpm. Average cadence: 72rpm. 21st of 29 finishers. Winner: Nic Baldo (PBScience.com) 20:39

After bigging up PBScience last week I should also mention Trainsharp Coaching. Lead coach Jon Sharples is a member of In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp and co-sponsors the team.

Kicking back a little

No races this weekend. The closest I could have ridden was the San Faiy Ann CC 50m TT but three weeks ago, when the entry was due, I didn’t fancy racing that far with so little form. This was a wise decision as it turns out. The form hasn’t arrived and it was a stinker of a day with high winds slowing people down all over the country – even at the National ’10’ championships (well done to the In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp riders – some good times there).

This week’s training has been easy – about 40% down on the usual efforts. You need a periodic easier week to allow recovery and maintain interest. I did do a 50+ mile ride yesterday but today was another rest day.

The new job starts on Wednesday. I’m down to work next Sunday so this may mean a DNS for next week’s race. It’s not something that I like doing, but the job comes first. I’ve decided not to enter the National ’50’ Championship in case something similar happens. It wouldn’t be good to rob someone else of a ride.

Tomorrow evening is the next Lewes Wanderers‘ club ’10’. It looks as if it’ll be a breezy affair, so my target will only be another long 25 minute ride. I’ll be riding with some crude wooden chocks under the arm rests as an experiment. Despite being brand new and tightened to the correct torque, they’ve slipped down in every race I’ve used them in.