Wisbech Wheelers 10 – First outing of 2014
Over two months since the last time I updated the blog. Sorry about that. Time flies when you’re spending endless hours on the turbo/Watt Bike. Er, well no it doesn’t, actually.
In the intervening time I’ve been flogging myself in various ways, trying to get to the elusive 300 watts for 20 minutes. Since my previous post on 11th January I’ve seen it once, 10 days ago, but that was on a Watt Bike with a dodgy computer. Given today’s performance, I think we can probably forget about that being a genuine reading.
Just to recap the past few months. I had a very enjoyable morning at the Drag2Zero wind tunnel in November. The outcome was that the very aggressive position at the front of the bike was softened considerably, by raising it 5cm. The idea being that this would open things up to enable me to claw back the 15w of power that I’d lost by going so low in the first place. Well, so far that hasn’t happened at all. Judging by today, I have reclaimed the grand total of zero watts! The reasons for that could be legion, but the most obvious one is that it is the low saddle height that affected power, not the low front. That doesn’t mean I should raise the saddle back up, because the low saddle position is demonstrably faster for me, even at the reduced power. It just means I have to work harder to get back the watts, if indeed I even can.
Anyhow, this is just the backdrop to today’s race. Despite not performing in training, maybe it’d come flooding back as soon as I pinned on a number?
I turned up very early, I was waiting for the organiser to open up the HQ at 0730, even though my start time was not until 0925. I like to be early. I hate being rushed, things tend to go wrong when I am rushed (e.g. the Peterborough 10 last May, where I emptied a tube of superglue onto my hand)
It was cold this morning, but bright. The temperature was forecast to rise to about 8 degrees by the time I was due to be off, but it was still 2 degrees at 0845 and then it started to rain. This was not good news for me, I don’t like the cold. I don’t go out normally when it’s cold or wet, never mind both. I wasn’t relishing the idea of half an hour in just a skinsuit and not much else.
I did a warmup of sorts and arrived at the start with 2 mins to spare. Normally I like to turn up about 10 mins early, but wanted to keep moving today. So I barely had time to think before I was being held up to clip in and then counted down. And off I went. At least the rain had stopped.
The Wisbech course is completely flat except for 3 places, where you’re either on sliproads on/off a dual carriageway, or else going over a bridge over the same DC. On the flip side, it’s a windy place. I got going quite well in the first section with a tailwind, but I could see almost straight away that I would not be able to maintain 300w. I was below it within a mile and half. I could also see that my HR was very low. Perceived effort was where it needed to be (i.e. “oh my, it’s going to be like this for another 15 mins at least?!”) but the other responses seemed to be below par.
I seemed to be doing ok though in terms of speed. I don’t tend to look at speed while I am racing, because it invites mental calculations that I really shouldn’t be doing when trying to race at ten tenths. But I was going ok relative to the riders immediately in front. I passed my minute man quite quickly, then went past the two minute man about halfway, then the three minute man with about 1.5 miles remaining. I felt as though I was travelling quickly, and it so it puzzled me why the numbers on the computer didn’t reflect that. Towards the end of the race I caught sight of HR a few times and it was nowhere, not even up to what I consider to be threshold. I was gasping though over the last mile, I didn’t seem to have it in me for much of a final push, and the checkerboard came up really quick. It was over. The computer said 23:01, which I thought would be reasonably competitive given previous results on the course. But my main feeling was bemusement as to what had occurred in terms of power and HR. I do see HR suppressed in the cold, but post race analysis shows that HR was the lowest it has ever been for a 10, and lower on average than the one 25 mile race I did in June last year. Fatigue? Maybe, I had done some training on 4 consecutive days previous. But I felt great going into the race, not fatigued at all.
Back to the HQ to wait for the results. Your position in a race depends as much on who else turns up as your own performance. I had no time goal for this race as I have never raced on this course before. But I have ridden it, in 25 minutes and change last weekend. I hoped that all my aero gear plus some extra adrenaline-fuelled power might be enough to get me two minutes. And it had (minus the power). There were 3 guys in the race that I didn’t think I could beat, together with a number of unknowns. So my main outcome goal was top 5. And Top 10 would be satisfactory. Anything else, disaster.
My time was going up on the board as I walked into the HQ: 23:04. I knew reasonably quickly that I wouldn’t make the top 5 – as the results came in, some guys I don’t know had beaten me – quite narrowly – but it was obvious that I’d be pushed out of the top 5. And so it was, when all the scores were in, I was 7th. The race was won by Jon Surtees of Team Swift, in 22:01. Last year’s winner, Daniel Bloy of Team Velovelocity was second with 22:11. A new team-mate of mine at St Ives CC, Jason Kierman was 3rd with 22:43. So I was 21 seconds off the podium. 300w would probably have seen me into 3rd place, but if you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it. Coulda, shoulda, etc.
Relative to other rides, it was a good result for me. It’s the closest I’ve been to the winner in an open TT. And in terms of riders I have raced against before, probably the most regular opponent is Chris Rimes, who finished 5th with 22:53, some 11 seconds ahead of me. That’s the closest I have ever been to him, and he has won 3 races (that I know of) already this season. Of course I have no idea how his race went, I can only see the time.
So maybe it’s just ring-rustiness, I need to get some races and more speed work under my belt to find the best performances? I do seem to have a decent set-up aerodynamically, since I was quite competitive with low power. So that’s the main plus! I seem to have improved – relative to the field – but one race isn’t enough to prove that. Only two weeks until the next race – lets hope it’s a bit warmer and I can get the old ticker beating a bit faster, and the old legs spinning harder! I will be racing every week or two until the end of May, so there’ll probably be plenty of updates in the next little while.
Thanks for reading 🙂