ECCA 10 mile TT
Yesterday saw my first dual carriageway race of 2015. Almost a month has passed by since I was comprehensively put to the sword in the King’s Cliffe event. Hopefully this would be a better race for me, with none of those nasty features I don’t like, such as hills and corners.
The forecast all week was for a strong northerly wind, and around 7-8 degrees. After the last race, I promised myself that if conditions were adverse, I would simply DNS rather than suffer the poor power I have seen in every cold race I’ve done so far. In the event, despite the forecast, I’ve been training hard and looking forward to it, so my intentions went right out of the window. Also, marshals would be braving the elements for a lot longer than I, so it’s a bit poor to enter and then not show. Not without a good reason, anyway.
Winds were predicted to be above 20mph, gusting to over 30mph. No matter which forecast I scanned! I generally find that the actual speeds are well below those forecast – if they weren’t, we’d be going nowhere fast. It probably takes a couple of hundred watts just to move at all into the face of a true 30mph headwind.
Given the conditions, one of the decisions to make is what to wear? For my previous races this winter I’ve worn my best Castelli skinsuit, with a Skins thermal compression base layer underneath. I bought a size small and it’s so tight that I can barely get it on. The upside is that it is hardly detectable under the suit – it doesn’t create much in the way of wrinkles. One downside is the tightness. I can feel it all the time. I even entertained the idea that it was restricting my breathing – a possible cause for the power loss – but of course that’s almost certainly nonsense. What I can say that the Castelli suit on it’s own is definitely a summer garment – it’s ridiculously thin in places (more on that below) – but with the Skins layer underneath, I can stand it down to around 5 degrees. It’s too hot to wear in the house, even on it’s own, though. A good buy, I think.
I’ve also worn a pair of full length leg warmers previously, but last week on impulse I bought some Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers. They’re fleece-backed and semi-waterproof. They did a good job of keeping my knees warm yesterday, so I’d recommend them I think. In the photo you can see some wrinkling around the knees. That’s not ideal, but on balance I’d wear them again in a race.
Over my ludicrous Aladdin shoes I wore some of the new Velotoze latex overshoes. They’re a departure from the usual lycra ones I wear. They’re made of thick balloon-like material. They kept my feet pretty warm yesterday, though of course that’s not at all the reason for wearing them. I don’t know how aerodynamic they are. They’re very tight, so you’d think they’re good. During the race, a couple of times I became convinced that the left one had fallen down. I could feel it flapping and it felt as though my ankle was bare. But when I looked down, the overshoe was still in place. Odd. I think maybe there is some looseness around the ankle at certain foot angles. I bought XL to go over my size 46 Bonts, I will buy another set in the size down I think. They’re only £17, so not expensive.
I have some Craft gloves that I’ve been wearing this winter. They are warm, but light and thin. They have a windproof mitten piece that covers the inner glove and encases your fingers. It’s quite tight, and so I decided they’re probably quite aero compared to regular gloves that would be as warm. No data! However, in terms of quality, they are dreadful. I’ve so far sewn up 7 holes that have appeared on the seams.
I parked at the HQ and planned to ride down to the race, to warm up. My start time was 14:20. Getting ready I managed to put my finger through the mesh part of the skinsuit. Awesome. A hole the size of a 10 piece appeared. You can see it on the outside of my left upper arm in the photo above if you look carefully. That’ one disadvantage of the Castelli suit – it’s very flimsy.
I set off 40 minutes before the start time and I had plenty to spare, too much really. I ended up retracing some of my steps to while away the minutes. At the start line I saw a couple of people I know. Slavik, another member of St. Ives. And also Chris Rimes, a Peterborough rider that I’ve raced with quite a lot. He was pushing off. That means he was starting riders – not just about to leave 🙂
I got chatting and it passed the last few minutes. I quite like a bit of distraction before the race, helps the nerves. The time came and off I went. Outbound there was a tailwind, but it wasn’t the forecast gale. I wasn’t cracking along at over 35mph with no effort, I was putting out race power for generally low 30s MPH. This surprised me. I didn’t know at the time, but my average speed to the turn was just 30.7mph. Power had been not bad! After the usual over-enthusiastic start, I’d averaged 299w to the turn. Given the expected headwind on the way back, that was pretty much bang on what I hoped. It meant that a good time was totally out of the question, but I didn’t know that at the time.
The return leg was hard, but not as hard as expected in terms of headwind. Speed dropped down to the low 20s MPH at one point, and I knew then that I wasn’t going to trouble my course PB. But then later, I was up over 32mph on a downhill section. If I’m honest, I probably didn’t have that last half percent of desire that’s there for the really important races or when you suspect a PB might be on the cards, but I’m sure it didn’t cost me in terms of placing.
I picked up power by 10w or so for the return, and averaged 305w for the whole race. That is quite satisfactory. It’s within 5w of my best performance on that course, set last September when I was at the peak of my powers. The position I’m riding in now is significantly more aggressive, so I think things are ok on the power front. I clocked 20:48 for the race, which was a bit of a shock initially. I didn’t expect it to be that slow. I hoped it would be reasonably competitive, given I’d made decent power, so I rode the long way round, back to the HQ feeling pretty good.
As I was one of the earlier starters – 20th of 110, I had plenty of time at the HQ to watch the results come in. I was fastest on the board for a time, but it wouldn’t last, it was just a question of how many would finish above me. I knew almost for certain who was going to win, and so it came to pass. Justin Layne won by 50 seconds with 19:30. I beat Justin once last year, and otherwise was generally a handful of seconds behind. He has made huge strides and moved himself into the upper echelons, there’s no doubt about that. Second was Daniel Northover, who I must confess I’d never heard of. He was off on a 9 – essentially meaning he hadn’t recorded a fast time before – yet clocked 20:20. Turns out he is also coached by Matt Bottrill. Adam Atkinson was 3rd with 20:30 and then me, some 22 seconds back with 20:52. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been 4th now. I think it was about half my races in 2014, and now both in 2015. The overall result is reasonably satisfying. I beat one or two riders who beat me last year, but was a long way behind Justin. For my own sanity I’m going to have to let that one go as he goes off chasing the likes of Adam Topham. I’d say the overall verdict for the race is “par”.
Strava ride is here.
Thanks for reading 🙂