Recent occurrences pt1 – National Championship 10
Hello! I haven’t been very good in recent weeks and months in updating this blog. I ran out of steam a bit, partly because it seems to me that every post is much the same. I’m not sure it’s very interesting to read, but I did find it cathartic to write. And one of the original reasons I started was to record my ‘journey’ in time trialling. I lost sight of that a bit, and perhaps things that I might consider important in future years have happened and I haven’t bothered to note them down here. Anyway, one of the all-time greats of the sport recently asked me why I’ve stopped writing. So that spurred me into action. Thanks, Ian 🙂
So this is an update of what’s been happening in my TT ‘career’ lately. Although I haven’t been writing here, I am extremely motivated by the sport still. I’ve been racing a fair bit and am already very excited about next season. There is some news which I am not yet able to share, which I hope will help me to improve next year. It has really fired me up for the latter part of the season, which is what this post is really all about. So…this is a rundown of my recent events.
RTTC National 10 mile TT
On 31st August I made the trip up to Humberside to race in the national championships. I had made it one of my main season goals to get in to this race. It still seems utterly bizarre to me that I might be able to ride in a national championship for anything, even though I obviously wouldn’t be ‘troubling the scorers’. This year, because of the course being used (a variant of the V718, the fastest course in the land) it was harder to get a ride than might normally be the case. Entries are ranked in order of your PB, and the top 150 riders get to race. Although I’d ridden 20:02 in June, that was in a club race, which is not eligible for entry to the nationals. So for these purposes, I entered with the 20:20 I recorded on the day Alex Dowsett broke the competition record with 17:20. I think the slowest rider in the race had 20:30 or so, so I didn’t squeeze in by much.
I made the trip up with my pal “G” (Genadijs Tilgalis, have a look at his site here). He’d finished second in the Herts Wheelers open 10, with a brilliant time of 19:32, in the process destroying me by over a minute. G was hoping to go well. I was just looking forward to my non-league-team-day-out-at-Wembley. Of course I was taking it seriously, but I mainly wanted to enjoy myself. I didn’t think a PB would be on the cards, because it was thought that the /1 variant of the course would be slower than the regular version, the final mile or so being on single carriageway, following a tight left hand bend.
G and I did a recce of the bend, I thought it probably wasn’t that slow after all. I was off quite early, number 29, reflecting my lowly status (the nationals are seeded in order of PB, the Bottrills and Hutchinsons of this world would be starting much later). I didn’t have a fabulous warmup, just kinda rode around a bit. I was at the start line in plenty of time and in a bit of a daze. I remember immediately upon starting thinking to myself “you should have some kind of plan, you’re in the national champs, here”. But I rode down the slip road onto the A63 and got on with it. IF I did have any kind of plan, it was “since it is the nationals, lets try for a power PB and deal with the consequences later in the race if it’s not happening”. So I roared off onto the course far too quickly – as usual. Looking down I could see 330-odd watts after the first minute or so. Instead of thinking “better cool it a little”, I thought “good”.
The turn came and I was starting to struggle a bit with the pace. It seemed to come very quickly, and in fact – for me – it had. The half way mark is in fact after the turn, and I was on the sliproad up to the double roundabout in under 8 minutes. As I came back down onto the DC to head back up to the course, I could see my minute man, he wasn’t all that far away. I didn’t think much of this at the time, other than “Oh, I will probably catch him then”.
At my start time, conditions favoured the out leg, with a slight tailwind. I could immediately feel the headwind on the return and was already regretting the decision to go out hard. I was blowing quite badly at the point of hitting the infamous (well, in TTing circles) Welton drag. Power was way down, and speed was suffering. In fact I seemed to have stopped reeling in the man in front. I came to the turn off the main road knowing I had a mile or so to go. In the biggest race of my short career, hopefully I would have something left? Indeed! In the last two minutes of the race, I put out 343w. No idea where it came from, because I was dead on my wheels coming off the DC. The occasion warranted it, and it came from somewhere. But I could have done with 20 or 30 of those watts a few minutes earlier…
I was catching the chap in front again as we approached the line. I couldn’t see too well because of the effort, I could see cars parked ahead and I was desperately trying to sight the finish. Eventually I saw the chequerboard and found another boost of power, almost 400w for the final 30 seconds of the race. As I crossed the line the Garmin had reset the lap. Through the sweat, spit, snot and whatever else I craned to see the time. It had stopped at 20 minutes dead. Now I knew that wouldn’t be the magic ’19’, because my Garmin always reads faster than the timekeeper’s watch. But I had no idea I’d get within a few seconds of my PB. My minute man was not very far up the road at all at the finish. I later discovered he’d done 20:57. When I sighted him at the turn, if you’d whispered in my ear “catch him and you will go under 20 minutes”, I honestly believe I’d have caught him. Having a visible target there, rather than riding “as fast as you can” is so valuable. But, I didn’t catch him, and my official time was 20:04.
Matthew Bottrill won the championship in 17 minutes 40 seconds. The second fastest time ever recorded. I bet he could teach me a thing or two. I finished in joint 90th place. I was hoping to get into the top hundred, so I’d achieved my aim. Average power was not brilliant, 306w, but it was about par. Within tolerance, anyway. I think I suffered for the effort at the start.
All in all I had a marvellous day and felt privileged to have been on the start sheet. When I started this caper I never thought I’d be able to ride in a national championship, so it was a total delight to be able to do so, and rub shoulders with the great and the good.
I’ve raced a couple of times since on the fast E2 course near Cambridge. I will hopefully write about those very soon. Thanks for reading. 🙂