2015 end of term report
I noticed a few days ago that the last time I wrote a post was at the end of May, less than half way through the season. I have been putting little bits on Facebook, but for the few people who read this who aren’t connected to me that way, I thought I’d write an update, now that my racing season has finished and to review the season as a whole.
Firstly I would really like to thank the people who have helped me, and who make my hobby so much more enjoyable.
- My coach Matthew Bottrill changed the way I look at racing and has helped me improve aspects that I never thought were that important, but turned out to be critical. When I started the coaching I thought it would just be about training plans, but it turned out to be so much more – complete support.
- My friends David Woodhouse and Justin Layne have helped me enormously with field testing and suggesting changes which worked incredibly well and were very influential in the improvements I saw in the second half of the season.
- The first person I met in TTing, Mick Hodson, my friend and club-mate. I met him after he caught and passed me in my first race in April 2013. He is still better than me as we have established many times this season. It’s a source of mild irritation to me, but I hope he gets some satisfaction from it! Chewing the fat with Mick is another thing that enhances my enjoyment of the sport.
Looking back at what I said I’d target in 2015, that didn’t last very long! I realised very quickly that sporting (read: hilly) courses are just not my forte. I could get better at them if I lost some weight, but I am naturally more competitive on flat courses where aerodynamics are more important. I decided I wanted to be as competitive as possible, and that required choosing the courses that suit this particular horse.
I’m not going to write laborious race reports as you’d be here all day, and I’d be here all week. Instead I will just split the season up into the various distances and disciplines and try to be brief. If you want any more detail on something, please ask a question in the comments and I will try to respond.
This is the distance I race most. I broke 20 minutes for the first time on 30th May, then in subsequent races on the V718 course in Hull improved that to 19:40 and 19:37 in July and August. None of the days I raced on were particularly good, so I’d hope to be able to improve further in 2016. PB from 2014 was 20:02, so in absolute terms I saw a 25 second improvement.
On my local course, the N1/10, times improved by an average of 34 seconds in the 3 races I did, versus 2014. Best was 21:37.
My best single carriageway time was 20:21 on the F15/10 near Brogborough, Beds.
Before this season I had only raced the distance three times, with a PB of 54:50. One of my main goals this year was to improve that to a level that was somewhere commensurate with my 10 mile times, relatively speaking of course. In June and early July I raced 4 events, two each on the A25/11 Etwall and E2/25 courses, among the fastest in the country. My best from the bunch was 51:10 in the Belper CC event in July on A25/11. I was quite satisfied with that.
I had one more opportunity to improve, the Port Talbot Wheelers event on the R25/3L course in South Wales on 6th September. Conditions were lovely – warm sunshine and very little wind, and the course ought to suit me. I’m still not quite sure how it happened, but I somehow recorded 49:50, which got me an entry on the all time fastest list on the TT forum. If you use your scrollbar and go a long way south, I’m down there somewhere, about 160th or something like that 🙂
Sub 50 minutes was so far away at the beginning of the season that it never occurred to me to set it as a target. My feelings about it are still a mixture of pride and bewilderment.
This isn’t a distance that is raced all that much, I think there are only a couple of fast events each year, but one of them is close to me, on the E2/30 near Newmarket – the Leo 30 held on Saturday 3rd October. I entered in 2014 but the race was cancelled due to bad weather, so I was very keen to have a go this year. My enthusiasm increased when it was announced that a new variant of course would be used this season. Having raced over the same roads for 50 miles (see below), I thought the new version could be really fast.
It would be my final race of 2015. I am entered into the Closed Circuit champs at Thruxton in a fortnight, but I will not ride as I have been troubled by a persistent back problem and I need to get it sorted, so I decided to draw a line after the 30. The day came and, oh my, the weather played ball. Fairly warm, but practically zero wind. Zero wind is what we need for fast time trialling. After the successful 25, I thought there was an outside chance of a sub-60 minute 30 mile ride, so long as it was the best day of the year. And it definitely was the best day of the year, certainly of the days I have raced on. I made a plan to try and go under 60 minutes. It was a pretty simple plan on paper – get the average speed up over 30 mph as quickly as possible and then try to hold it, managing my available resources in the way Matt has taught me.
In the event, it went like clockwork. I went hard and reached the 30mph average within about 5 miles, and then steered it home. Of course it was very hard work, but there was only one point, just after the turn, where it seemed in doubt. I crossed the line in 59:29 for 8th place. Before Saturday, only 14 people had ever gone under the hour, but because of the new fast course, that list has now swelled to 23 names, and I’m 17th. I think it is a St. Ives CC club record.
I don’t seem to be well suited to longer distances, as my power drops off more than most I think, the longer the race. But I wanted to try one 50 this year, and I chose the VTTA event on E2/50 in June. Although it was raining, it was another excellent day in terms of wind, and I was 6th with a time of 1:44:38. Again this may be a St. Ives club record for the distance.
Time trialling is primarily a solo sport, but most events have a team prize, for the lowest aggregate time of the fastest 3 (occasionally 4) riders from each club. At St. Ives we are blessed with a few riders who generally finish quite close to the top of the results board in local races. I did a quick check and I think we had a qualifying team in 12 events this year, and won 11 of them. I was lucky enough to be in 10 of those winning teams. The only one we missed was by 1 second across an aggregate time of over 62 minutes. So all in all, a reasonable year for St. Ives CC!
I did one 2UP team race this season, with Mick Hodson in the Kettering CC 10 mile event. We won in 21:55 from Stu Wright and Sam Barker with 22:44. Mick basically dragged me round most of the way.
2nd was my best solo placing of the year, in the VTTA EA 10 mile TT on E2/10 in September. I was 3rd in the Bossard Wheelers 10 mile TT on F15/10, also in September. Outside of that, there are a few 4th places and the odd 5th or 6th. My best results in terms of time often don’t coincide with the best placing, as those races are often very competitive, drawing the fastest riders. For example, in my 10 and 25 mile PB races, I was 16th in both of those.
Overall 2015 has been incredibly good to me. Once I de-prioritised the local sporting events, I pretty much hit all my other targets, and also a couple of things I never even thought to target. This is largely because I surrounded myself with the right people (mentioned above). I wouldn’t have achieved any of it without them.
I have raced most weekends this year and really loved every moment of it. I am very sorry to see the back of 2015, but I’m already planning and looking forward to next year! Thanks very much for reading 🙂