H25/8 – April 22nd.
After E2/25 (Billiard table smooth drag strip) were I managed just 309w despite a decent time, I was keen to push on and bring the watts up. I’ve averaged 320w for an hour in the past, so I clearly know I can do more. Maybe I’m not quite there yet, or maybe the TT position I have is too constrictive. The H25/8 course is reasonably quick, a bit lumpy with three roundabouts to negotiate.
Anyhow, the weather oddly picked up for the Saturday and it was around 18c when I set about warming up in the car park. The wind was looking reasonable too. I’d had some gastro issues the night before, so I was slightly concerned that may have taken something out of me. Decided to use the rollers to warm up in the car park too, instead of my usual up and down the road. I had a bit of a ramp warm up planned out, progressively building the watts. Previously using the rollers I could get enough resistance to hold up to 350-400w. Maybe the TT bikes wheels and tyres, but they didn’t give any resistance and so holding 300w meant silly cadence. Still, even after 20mins and a few spinouts I was sweating buckets.
One of the things I’ve found with being coached this year is that my legs always seem there or thereabouts for races, with preparation obviously much better. I’ve had some absolute howlers in the past where I’ve turned up and barely been able to hold any watts whatsoever. Which is in itself great, but I now find it difficult to feel whether its going to be a good day or an OK day.
Off the start I settled in and seemingly felt OK. I’d put a target of 320w in my head, knowing I can do that – or at least have done in the past. 330w for the first 5 minutes, and legs still feeling fine. I reached the first of the roundabouts and at this point kind of realised it was going to be a long day, my legs were really hurting, and I was desperate to come out of the extensions. But the roundabout was big enough and fast enough for that not to happen, my average watts were then down to 322w. Back up the course to the next roundabout I was clearly starting to struggle. I found the bumpy cracked road hard to ride with any sort of rhythm and the watts were just falling away. I had a slight hold up at the next roundabout, but eventually got round. By this point I was almost giving up the legs felt so grim, and after 45mins of riding the average was down to 303w. As 50mins passed I knew I wasn’t on for a great time, still being a couple of miles out from the finish. I tried to finish strong but all I could manage for the last two miles was a paltry 288w, to finish in 53:19 and 302w average.
Clearly something wasn’t right with the legs to see that much drop off, so I was pretty dissapointed with that performance. Paceline RT also had Benoit on the road bike, who went under the hour which was pretty decent, Phil Ember who managed a 54, and Rob who still managed a 49 despite being about 30w down on his usual. All in a pretty average day on the bike. With the only positive being that my legs felt a LOT better post race than they did the last time, so I think I’m possible adapting to the bike and position slightly better now.
Watford Velo RR – 23rd April
Rob entered this as he wanted another race as prep for the May 3 Day. I decided to get involved too figuring it was probably a good idea to test the legs, especially a day after a long 25. The race was a part of the central road race league, which I’ve never raced before. The field looked pretty good, with mostly 2nd Cats. The course profile looked nice too, with just one climb up to the finish each lap, which was probably made for Rob and my power profiles. The race was also only 50 miles, over 3 and a half laps.
We rolled out pretty quick for our first lap of the course. Nice open roads for the most part, with good surface, and most noticeably compared to Surrey, courteous oncoming drivers who actually fully pulled off the road. It was also generally pretty quiet traffic wise too. Much nicer environment to race in than Surrey for sure.
Anyway, racing was fairly quick with several riders pinging off the front to try and get an early break. A couple of riders stuck out front for a lap, but were eventually brought back. I tried to bridge to one forming break, which was also brought back. Then on the first descent I had another go, but 400w for almost 5 mins later, things were back together at the top of the finish climb.
The next time up the climb Rob hit it and was joined by several other riders. In hindsight I wish I’d have been positioned to go with them, but as it was I was around the middle of the pack. For the rest of the race pretty much I just marked the odd attack and sat in. With 1 to go the bunch steadied as there were quite a few teams represented in the break. The pace picked up with a few miles to go as everyone tried to position themselves for the sprint. I was stupidly content to just sit near the back. Into the last mile the road opened up a bit and I managed to move up, but I was concerned not to use much power before the finish, so didn’t really get far. When the road started to kick up I began to gas it, picking my way through the bunch, dodging a crash. I crossed the line in the top 6 or so of the bunch, before rolling up the road to see Rob had taken the win from the break. Good result.
In hindsight, I should have been much more aggressive in the final. I’ve realised I can do a lot more aerobic work before still being able to launch a big sprint. Something I was a bit more unsure of previously. Still, it was a decent finish, and was nice to be relatively unknown as a team. In Surrey every man and his dog would have been trying to jump on Rob’s wheel up that hill, or trying to ride that break down.
Something the race made me look at as well was getting a W’bal app on my Garmin. For those that don’t know, this looks at threshold power, and your total KJ of power, to give you a percent reading. 100% at the beginning of the race, with anywhere below 10% being race ending effort. The advantage is being able to have measure of when you’re able to make an effort, and when to throttle back and try and recover, rather than just having to rely on intuition of when you’re going to blow.
Avg Speed – 24.6mph
Avg Power – 231w
NP Power -321w
May 3 Day – Stage 1 – Dunsfold
When I began the year I had this down as a key target. Last year we came very close to Rob taking the win, only to lose it to a broken wheel, so the aim was clear this year. Annoying the courses were changed last minute though, so instead of the usual:
- Stage 1 Dunsfold – Easy circuit, sprint finish
- Stage 2 Bletchingly – Very tough climbers circuit, definite splits on GC
- Stage 3 Lingfield – Also pretty attritional, sprint finish, likely breaks.
It was changed to the below.
- Stage 1 Dunsfold – Easy circuit, sprint finish
- Stage 2 Barcombe – Hard circuit, chance for breaks and splits, but nothing on Bletchingly
- Stage 3 Wivelsfield – Fairly easy circuit with a sprint finish.
Obviously this changed the dynamics a lot, still the likelihood was that stage two was where the overall win would be crystallized, but an easy circuit on the last day could mix things up, with the overly generous 30s win bonuses available.
The team was Benoit, Sam, Pat, Ed, Rob and Myself, and we felt reasonably confident we could force a result, for either Pat or Rob, our realistic GC hopes. There were quite a few other strong teams:
Adalta who’ve previously done well, and appear to ride well as a team
London Dynamo who had a number of strong riders
RPR who have been taking quite a few wins recently, on paper appear to have the stronger of the teams, and have appeared to be tactically astute (more on that later)
Twickenham and Meudon who also seem to work well and had solid riders.
For me the weekend was going to be about trying to get a result on day one (managed 6th last year) then turning my focus to the GC to help the team for the remainder of the days.
Stage 1 kicked off relatively quickly as you’d expect, a couple of early breaks tried to get up there before finally three riders slipped away. Ian Paine of Dynamo, Leon Stoneman of Army CC and Andy Critchlow of Wyndymilla. The bunch were pretty happy to let that go, knowing it could have been brought back at any time. Their gap got up to 90s at times, but the bunch was not riding too hard. I spent the majority of my time watching the front of the race and trying to stop more riders from joining the break.
All was looking fairly good, and it was useful to have the W’bal information on screen to look at, as a couple of times it made me knock it back and recover slightly. However with about 5 laps left to ride coming up the small rise at the end of the lap my chain dropped. My chain catcher didn’t do its job, then jammed the chain between the bottom bracket and chainset. The chaincatcher then meant I couldn’t get the chain back up and out back into place. I lost 2 minutes fixing it at the side of the road, cutting my fingers in several places in the process. Eventually back on the bike I settled into a pointless TT effort to get back on, whilst my hands were pissing blood all over my bike and my legs. Eventually the bleeding stopped, and after a lap at 340w I realised I wasn’t getting back on. It was tough to swallow. I was livid. Four months training, then for this it was immensely frustrating. I spent the next several laps just sitting about 230w to try and get round the distance in a reasonable time. After a few laps I was joined by a twickenham rider, who had suffered a puncture and also ended his race. On the last lap we were pulled out and told to go to the finish, just as the bunch loomed behind us. We pulled off and let it go past, to see Rob in a good position.
In the kick that followed Phil Glowinski of VC Londres took the win, with Rob taking out second place. Game on for the rest of the weekend, and not having Rob in yellow we assumed was a good thing.
Avg Speed – 23.2mph
Avg Power – 247w
NP Power -315w
Stage 2 – Barcombe
With Rob in a good position, and with some time on the rest of the group thanks to the time bonuses, the plan for S2 was realistically going to be mark the early moves, then try and help Rob get into a split and build further time. Its a suitable finish for him, so we’d be confident of more time if he was in the selection. However the way it unfolded was very different.
The circuit itself was tough, winding small lanes for a lot of it, with a longer climb to the finish, followed by another climb just after. It was always going to be the hardest day, with 8 laps on a sapping circuit. My gameplan was just to help out where I could. I spent the first half of the race just marking strong looking moves out with Sam and Ed’s help. An early break eventually got away with Pat in it which seemed to be going well. However near halfway the race was stopped due to riding standards, which neutralised that gap. In the next part of the race, I saw Arlen from RPR moving up so decided to jump on his wheel. Knowing he’s a strong rider with a few recent wins. However, he proceeded to just drill it on the front for no apparent reason. Not in an attempt to get away, just to ride which I thought was a bit odd, so I just sat on. They didn’t have anyone up on GC, so their only hope was for a break. Which was why gassing it on the front seemed strange. Eventually he gave me the elbow, at which point I rolled through easy, to be asked why I wasn’t riding??
In the next couple of laps Rob tried getting off the front, but the entire bunch was not interested in letting that happen and he was thoroughly chased down. Even to be told by RPR that they wouldn’t/couldn’t ride with him. Bizarre considering getting up the road with our strongest rider, was also probably their best hope of a good GC placing.
After a few more laps of hard riding there was a brief lull when a split happened and 12 or so riders slipped off the front. Pretty much one from every team including Pat from Paceline. Initially we were happy to let it go, as there didn’t seem to be many of the properly strong riders involved. As were the bunch, and we soft tapped it round letting the gap build. Looking back at this point, we should have shut the gap down but that didn’t happen.
Fast forward to the finish, the last lap was a bit faster. Coming into the finish Rob took the hill early and was first of the bunch to finish, followed by Percival of RPR. I was 8th or so of the bunch. After crossing the line it turned out a Twickenham had won, with Pat 7th and so 30s down on GC. Rob was now 2:50ish down due to the break. A slightly odd and frustrating day. Still I was happy to get round and be of use to an extent.
Avg Speed – 23.9mph
Avg Power – 249w
NP Power -332w!
Stage 3 – Wivelsfield
So the situation as it stood was as below:
Pos Name Surname Club/Team Overall
1 Edmund Bishop VC Meudon 05:21:57
2 Oliver Richardson Twickenham CC 05:21:59
3 Wayne Beba Adalta CC 05:22:20
4 GARY BRIND Southdowns Bikes CASCO 05:22:28
5 Ian Bray Addiscombe CC 05:22:28
6 James Stannard Dulwich Paragon CC 05:22:31
7 Ray Wilson London Dynamo 05:22:32
8 Pat Wright Paceline RT 05:22:35
9 Chris Nicholls Regent’s Park Rouleurs 05:22:35
10 Keith Watson Adalta CC 05:22:38
11 Andy Critchlow WyndyMilla 05:23:25
12 David Murrell London Phoenix 05:23:26
13 Ian Paine London Dynamo 05:23:28
14 michael coyle Brighton Mitre 05:23:36
15 Philip Glowinski VC de Londres 05:24:33
16 Rob Sharland Paceline RT 05:24:42
17 Michael Guilford VC Meudon 05:24:56
18 Tom Percival Regent’s Park Rouleurs 05:25:02
19 Jack Freeman VC Meudon 05:25:04
20 Paul Hollingsworth London Dynamo 05:25:04
Realistically, Pat, who I hope won’t mind me saying doesn’t have a sprint. So with Day 3 a flat circuit, it was tough to imagine him moving up the GC by anything other than a solo 30s break. No small ask. RPR we’re in the exact same situation with a rider in 9th. All other teams had a GC hopeful high up the ranking. Now this meant, that all other teams would be protecting their riders, and probably riding fairly negatively. Rob was over 2 minutes down, so for him to force a result he needed to make up that time on the stage, in a break, with no other GC hopefuls around him. Another huge ask. In which case you’d have thought RPR would have been keen to work to get up the road with us….
So out we headed to try and force something of a result. The first lap was pretty leg stinging. RPR sat on the front drilling it again for some unknown reason, until they almost went the wrong way at a roundabout and things slowed up a touch. Not long after a Dynamo and a Morvelo chipped off the front. After half a lap and a few attempts Rob managed to split off the front and got after them. The right sort of situation was forming, we just had to be a pain in the bunch and give them the best chance of building the gap. So that’s exactly what we did, got in the way of the chasing bunch, and set false tempo to try and let the gap build. Dynamo, Twickenham, Adalta and Meudon were all fairly active in trying to bring the race back together, but we were doing enough that the gap got out to 1:30.
Unfortunately it wasn’t going out past that. After another few laps of following everything that was going. RPR came to the front and repeatedly set a pretty good pace to bring the gap down, and or try and chip off the front. Again slightly bizarre considering their GC position. Dynamo were also trying similar, again odd attacking one of their own up the road. In hindsight perhaps we should have let an RPR or a dynamo go, in order to strengthen the group up the road. However, given yellow and green were never far behind, they were always there to jump with them. So shutting them down was also required, and then it was all back together again.
With 2 to go, after a lot of work chasing my legs were toasty, so I headed out the back, riding the penultimate lap solo, before stopping at the finish to see the sprint. It was fairly obvious at that point that Rob’s gap was reducing, and sure enough, it was all together before the sprint. Southdowns tee’d up their rider well for the win, with Ed Bishop of Meudon taking the overall. Pat was in the bunch, which obviously meant him maintaining his top 10 GC place.
Avg Speed – 24.9mph
Avg Power – 255w
NP Power -302w
All in all a pretty disappointing weekend, and not the result we had envisaged, especially after last years nearly moment. Personally I was happy with how I rode, the legs were there all weekend, and never really felt bad on Day 3 as they have done in the past. Not sure whether that’s the higher training load, better prep or just better conditioning, so I was happy from that perspective. And this should also provide a good amount of race training to set up the rest of the year. From a team outlook I think we generally worked and communicated pretty well with everyone pulling a turn or two. I think we should have been more decisive on day 2, but that’s very easy to say looking back. Making that call on the road is a lot more difficult. The way things landed with virtually all of the teams except RPR and ourselves with decent GC placing after day 2 should have meant them being able to, or wanting to ride with us. But apparently they were seemingly more interested in riding to not let others win, rather than making a race of it, and in so doing really cut off their nose to spite their face. Next year maybe.
I’ve got a couple of upcoming events now. A fast 10m TT on 6th May where I hope I can lower my Pb. My first seeded start too, so I’m one of the later riders which I hope will help. Then after that I’m hoping for an entry to the tour of the milburys on the 20th May, which is a shortish TT as Stage 1, followed by a RR as Stage 2 on the same day. After that I’m off to Greece for a week. Taking the bike too, so should have a good week training out of that, in good conditions, and so come back in solid shape is the plan!