Team Swift ‘Fastest 150’ 10 mile Time Trial, V718 (Hull)
Yesterday I made the trip up to Hull with a fellow St. Ives CC member, Mick, to ride the famous V718 course. This course is reckoned to be the fastest in the country and is the track where Michael Hutchinson broke the competition record last year with a time of 17:45. It can be hard to get a ride on this course, because it tends to be oversubscribed, due to people travelling miles chasing a fast time (ahem). But my 21:06 in the abandoned VTTA race at the end of August was comfortably enough to bag me a place. Perhaps if I went well I might go under the 21 minute barrier?
But, I didn’t have high expectations for my own performance. Training has been pretty poor and sporadic since the end of July and although I did a few good spin classes at work last week, I’m really just running on the fitness gained earlier in the season when I was more highly motivated, and being coached. I have to get back the training mojo over the winter, or else my first season in the sport will be the last. I have some ideas, but that’s for another time maybe.
Anyway, I warmed up on the way to the start, had a good 40 minutes or so on the bike. It wasn’t very structured, but seemed ok. I was 13th man off at 13:43, joined the short queue with about 5 mins to go and set off at the appointed time. The V718 course is held on the dual carriageway A63, which is the road that leads on from the end of the M62 towards Hull. You ride down towards Hull, turn before 5 miles at an elevated pair of roundabouts and then retrace your steps, finishing about 1 mile further west than the start. The wind was from the SW, which is mostly a cross wind for the whole course (which runs roughly SE and then NW, finishing westerly for the last mile.
Don’t ask me why I did this, but I decided to ride the race on feel, rather than using my power meter to measure average power. Really, this ought to have been the key 10 in the later part of the season, because it was the best opportunity to go quickly (due to the course, not my own capabilities). So I probably should have ridden it using the tools I am used to – average power being the main one I use as a stick/incentive to keep the effort high. As it was I was using just elapsed distance and 3 second power.
So I had no clue how I was doing throughout the race. I don’t know the course, so I didn’t have any reference points to time myself against, and with no average power I had no idea of the performance level from that perspective. I noticed a few times that power had ebbed away and tried to raise it up, but I think that I don’t have the skills to ride on feel yet, and I need to use the power meter, especially in important events.
Of course I did capture power data, and it shows the lowest power I have ever done! 277w, about 10w down on my last race. I wonder if this is due to reduced fitness, or the fact that I didn’t monitor it throughout? The race itself seemed to pass quickly, no problems. I felt as though I was trying hard, but not going very fast. There was one point not long after the turn where I noticed that power was down near 200w. Not sure why, maybe I’d lost concentration, but the data shows that I also lost a lot of speed at this point, as it coincided with the bottom of the ‘Welton Drag’, the longest uphill section on the course. Maybe if I had been awake here and able to push, the time might have been better.
Once I got inside the last mile I found plenty still left in the tank – a sign that I had not tried hard enough earlier – and finished quite strongly. The Garmin stopped as I crossed the line at 21:07, so I knew I’d be on for a time in excess of 21:10. So no PB. I wasn’t particularly bothered, you get out what you put in, and in recent weeks I haven’t been putting enough in, so I had no right to expect a good time. But despite the poor performance, I actually quite enjoyed myself. I like racing, it’s fun and makes you feel alive. I like the pre-race nerves, looking forward to the opportunity to ride well. And I like the feeling when you’re out on the course, pitting yourself against the elements. I just need to train more and ride faster.
Back at the HQ, my time was already being projected up onto the screen, 21:11. As more riders finished, it was clear that I’d beaten quite a few, but I will finish way down, probably 3/4 of the way down. I don’t have the results yet, but I think that’s approximately where I will be. This is no problem – where I finish in a race is chiefly a function of who else turns up! And lots of fast guys turned up. I don’t think it was a great day, because nobody except Michael Hutchinson went under 19 minutes. He was last man off and finished in a scorching 18:01, only 16 seconds outside his own course record. I guess one good point is that I seem to have improved – in the only other time I have faced him (I say faced, well I can’t imagine he was looking down the result sheet to see how he’d done against Whitters!) he beat me by 4 minutes, this time by 3 minutes and 10 seconds. It’s a different course, but still I think there are signs of improvement. I think this improvement comes from aerodynamics rather than ability to ride, however, because when he beat me by 4 minutes earlier in the year, I produced more power than I did yesterday.
So, the main reason to be cheerful is that I seem to have found a fairly aerodynamic position. If I can produce just a little more power, I could get under 21 minutes. I have access to a spreadsheet containing quite a complex formula where you can see how much more power would be required to go X seconds faster. It predicts that if I’d managed an additional 10w yesterday, I’d have finished inside 21 minutes. It also predicts that I’d have needed a whopping 50 additional watts to get inside 20 minutes! Can’t see me ever troubling that milestone! 😀
Mick, who is operates at a much higher level than me, was hoping to go under 20 minutes for the first time. I am pleased to say he managed it, recording a time of 19:58. A great result! So at least one of us got the reward for the journey.
I have one more race this season, the re-run of the abandoned VTTA national champs, where I recorded my 10 mile PB of 21:06 3 weeks ago. It’s next Saturday. I’m going to try and prepare well this week and see if I can finish the season on not to bad a low! 🙂
Thanks for reading.