Season Goals and H10/22

One of my season goals this year was as per the below:

Short 20 min 10TT – Had a TT bike for the end of this season, and now have some more of the right gear, skinsuit etc. Just need to sort out a disc wheel, then start playing with positions. Fairly sure I can start to be reasonably quick if I’m able to repeat/improve on the watts I had this year. Best 20min was 350w in 2016 (held that for 25mins, so room for improvement anyway), targeting 365w for 2017 with a stretch goal of 370w. – As above shows, right course, right day, right kit, I should be quite a bit above my most recent results, but we’ll see.

I sorted myself out with a disc wheel, and have made my bike a bit tidier too, but the main improvement has been the additional watts that have come with training. At the Bentley Xmas 10 I managed a 22:19 in not the worse conditions. However I’d only managed 319w, I held a terrible position on the bike owing to not being able to see out of my helmet, and I was on 60mm carbon clinchers as opposed to something quicker. So there was clearly bags of time on the table. Then last week with the bike more in order, I managed 309w for a 50:40 25m TT, albeit on a very quick course. Clearly a step up from the Xmas 10, so things were coming together.

So Good Friday was the H10/22 a supposedly pretty quick 10 course just near Marlow. On paper it didn’t look too quick to me with a roundabout to be navigated in the middle of the course, but previous times showed otherwise. The weather was looking ok, cold early in the morning, so not especially quick. Owing to a very average pb (22:19 as above) I was among the first riders off, at 7.07am. Unfortunately this meant a 5am alarm clock as well, so wasn’t sure how the legs would react to that, but good practice for the RP TTs for sure.

In any case, the roads were clear and I made it to the HQ in good time to get setup. Got all my gear on and headed out onto the roads to warmup. My Garmin (Edge 820) has been giving me issues where it fails to turn on. Garmin logo comes up, then it just goes blank. Bit of a gamble, but usually eventually it comes good. Don’t know what causes it but its very frustrating. Obviously being race day the garmin decides to play up, and I aimlessly ride around for about 20 minutes trying to get the bloody thing to fire up. Eventually about 10 minutes to the start it comes on, annoyed I go and bang out a few sprints to get the legs ready. By this point my hands are ready to fall off, no gloves and 5 degrees was unpleasant to say the least.

Onto the start line a minute before. I’m called up, and before I know it heading onto the course. First couple of minutes at 370w+ and the constant struggle to keep the power down. I’d mentally put a figure of 340w in my head as a target, I’ve done more in the past but was starting to feel stronger than earlier in the year. Anything more than this and I’d be pleased. By 5 minutes in the power average had come down to 353w, having negotiated the roundabout. I don’t have average speed on the garmin, but it felt pretty slow thanks to the uphill grind, but I felt pretty on top of my gears so just kept it going.

Things settled down from there to the halfway point, with a bit of downhill to give the legs some slight respite, however getting onto the roundabout I looked down to see over 11 minutes, and an average of 335w. At which point I was immediately disappointed as it felt like a 20 minute time had already gone, which looking back was pretty stupid given the return leg should have been a lot faster. Back onto the DC and I managed to park that thought, hoping for a faster return. After the brief rest of the roundabout, and a chance to come up out of the extensions I felt renewed, and settled back into position. Looking back at the race now, I didn’t really know what power I was doing at this point, I just was tucked in and trying to hold a big gear, but I’m surprised to see for the 5mins after the turn I did 357w at 30.1mph! A minute later and up to 40mph, I was fast approaching the rouandabout, traffic was clear, but I came out of the extensions and tried to carry as much speed as possible through.

Just 1.5miles left to ride, and looking down at the clock I could see I’d obviously gone a lot quicker on the return. I could see a long 19 may well be on. Knowing I was pretty safe from blowing up I tried to just empty the tank to the line, holding on to 400w for the last 2 and a half minutes. The finish board came up faster than expected, and after crossing the line I immediately looked down to see a number beginning with 19, and so my first 30mph TT! I’m slightly embarrassed I actually yelled “yesss” several times after rolling back toward the HQ. I was hopeful for a good time, but to smash the season goal and pick up a 19 felt superb. Just had to hope the timekeepers were on the same time to my Garmin now.

I rolled back to the HQ and packed away before heading in to sign out and try and see my official time, which had come back as a 19.55. Only Jamie Pine of Nuun had gone faster, with 19.38 at this point.  However, in the fullness of time 5 others went faster still, with the winner recording an 18:41. Paceline RT also had James Hayden (19:46), Keith Lea (20:16) and Adam Stone (21:46).

So looking back now, obviously very pleased to have knocked one goal on the head so soon in the season. Looks like the goal itself may have been a bit soft, but when I set it only having done 22 minute 10s it didn’t feel like it was. Given the early start, I’m hopeful on another fast course/day I can shave a bit of time off that too, added to a better aero position and more watts I’m not sure if a long 18 might be on the table this year. With regards to power this still wasn’t a wattage PB, having held 350w for 25mins in the past. Given the nature of how I put the power down in the race too, I know I can do more. More training as well, and I’m sure I’m capable of 360w+ this year, the aim was always 370w but that feels like a big stretch at the moment.

All in, very chuffed with the time and looking forward to more TT’s. Next race is H25/8, a 25 on the Bentley course, followed by a road race near Watford. The following weekend is the May 3 Day, one of my season main goals, so I’m hopeful of a good showing the next couple of weeks!

Staple Hill 2/3 RR & E2/25 TT

A couple of events I’ve done of late, on RR and one TT.

SL Staple Hill 2/3

After coming in 8th at Kirdford (hanging onto the winning break for 30 miles) the legs started to feel like they were coming into form, the camp in Spain was starting to show some of its value, and I think the coaching side of things is really starting to come through as well. In previous years I’d have ridden a fair amount less (250 miles (30 something hours) less 2016 vs 2017 this year so far), added to that the rides I did do would have involved mostly just smashing myself trying to hold threshold for longer periods, chaingangs or other harder group rides. More targeted training has meant I can hit intervals a lot better when required, and when I do need to do longer rides my legs aren’t in a complete state and are able to handle the training load. I think I’m also better prepared in terms of effort recovery too, which seems to have shown during the Kirdford race.

I was a bit sceptical/nervous going into this Staple Hill race. As per the name, the race finishes on Staple Hill, a fairly shallow several minute climb, with a section of false flat, followed by some faster downhill/flatter sections before looping back to the hill. 17 times… Being of the more sizeable nature you can see why I was a bit nervous. Especially after having been binned here midway through an Ottershaw series race. Luckily the wind direction was to be helpful with a tailwind up the climb, but still.

Rolling out of the HQ

Anyhow, the race kicked off at speed, and while steak dinner and few beers the night before weren’t the best prep my legs were feeling ok. Plan of action for me was to just hold on as long as possible, and take it from there. Paceline had Rob and Benoit racing too, Benoit’s plan I think was similar, while Rob had plans on going for the win.

The first lap was just under 7 minutes and an average of 252w, which I was more than capable of holding sitting in the bunch. However the circuit was fast and tight, and reasonably busy with approaching cars, which meant moving up at the best of times was tough. After a lap the race was stopped as a result of people being stupid and all over the road, with a couple of riders called out and warned. Which led them to promptly being sat at the back of the race for a good while.

After the race was restarted I spent the next couple of laps with Benoit sat at the back of the pack. Until on the exit to one of the fast corners a mono guy veered direction from the right to the middle of the left lane, taking out a Southdowns front wheel and from the sound of it all the spokes. He promptly went down in front of me, at which point I had to wait for him to settle slightly while sliding down the road at 30mph, before taking evasive action myself. All with oncoming traffic coming down the road. One of the dodgier moments I’ve encountered while racing. Unfortunately for Benoit, the crash meant he was caught behind, and despite best efforts couldn’t get back on to the bunch.

After this event I sat on a bit more and tried to move up a bit into the bunch. All the while at the front attacks and groups were constantly chipping off the front and or being chased down and brought back. The circuit didn’t immediately seem selective enough for a break to stay, given the relatively easy nature of the wind blowing people up the climb. After a couple more laps I started to move up on the climb, and while doing so a pretty big break had formed with about 6 riders. This looked and so I decided to try and bridge across. Managed to get a reasonable jump on the bunch on the climb and set about trying to get across. 400w for just shy of 3 minutes saw me onto the back of the group where I could take a bit of a breather, but before we knew it, back down the other side of the circuit we were closed up by the bunch once more. Took me another lap to recover, sliding backwards once more on the climb.

Another few laps passed with yet more riders attacking, Rob in plenty of the moves, but nothing still sticking. I felt comfortable I could make the end of the race now with the legs still feeling strong despite the repetitive climb efforts. So from this point on I pretty much sat in, holding onto hope for a strong finish. However with a couple laps to go a rider went down hard on the hairpin corner, screaming in pain as he hit the deck. The next time round the bunch had to filter through two by two as the ambulance and paramedics were in attendance. This didn’t fill me with confidence for the finish so I pretty much just sat back during the final lap.

Coming into the final corner the pace wasn’t that rapid and I was holding on fine. Up the climb people were blowing up all over the place, so I made a strong effort for the line overtaking 20+ people. However so crap was my original positioning I only crossed the line 24th, and only having done 500w for the last 90seconds of the race, knowing I’m capable of MUCH more. Somewhat annoying as the legs still felt pretty good after the race, and I really should have backed myself a bit more for the finish, but I wasn’t really that confident owing to the tight, dodgy nature of the circuit.

Race was won by a Pearson, followed by an RPR and a Dynamo.

Still, some positives to take in that I held on, even feeling strong at the end, something I’m not sure I’d have managed as well at this time last year, so the coaching definitely seems to be helping that regard. Looking forward to the May 3 day now at the end of April, with just one more RR the weekend before. Watts continue to grow, and body mass continues to fall so hoping for a good showing there.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/923363941 

Avg Power: 248w 

NP Power: 322w

Avg Speed: 25.4mph


Lea Valley E2/25 TT

Had been looking forward to this one for a little while given TT entries seem so far in advance. The course is known to be fast, with about 10 miles of the course essentially motorway, a proper out and back dragstrip. The only downside was the 2 hour drive to get there. 

I left London about 11 o’clock and was at the HQ just after 1pm. The weather looked great, sunny and about 20c with a headwind out and tailwind back. After doing a bit of reading online it seemed conditions wouldn’t be the quickest but would be ok. Still, anything was likely to be a PB so it didn’t bother me too much. I just wanted to get a feel for it on the TT bike and see what sort of watts I could hold for a 25. I got set up, when I realised I’d left one of my trip socks at home… which was probably a good 5w or so immediately lost. I’d also ordered some faster tyres and latex tubes, which had also not arrived in time to add to the slight frustration.

Anyhow, I rolled out and down some of the local roads to warm up before getting to the start line. Still haven’t really got a process here, and just do a mix of target watts with a few harder, higher cadence efforts to get the legs opened up. I was off at 3.13pm, set off down the ramp and onto the carriageway, immediately getting settled but with watts too high, spending the first 5 minutes at 342w. I tried to hold back a bit, with the aim to try and average 320w, but even after 10 mins I was at a 333w average. The legs felt ok, not exactly good or bad, just in that odd zone in the middle where it’s not a “bad” day, but where I know I’m capable of more.

Slight odd, coming out of position pic at the turn

I arrived at the turn after just over 27 minutes, the average had now slipped to 318w with the average speed at 28mph. I knew the return should be faster given the tailwind, so I was keen to crack on and try and keep the watts up. Back onto the slip road I was extremely glad of the time out of the saddle and extensions as a bit of respite. The return was noticeably faster, holding a much bigger gear, with regular sections at well over 33mph, but the watts were starting to fall away, and it was a constant battle to keep an eye on the power numbers to try and dig deeper to hold them up.

As time wore on I was starting to get an idea of what sort of time I might end with, somewhere around 50mins, vastly better than my c.53/54min expectations. Into the last couple of miles the watts started to come back as I could empty the tank properly, spurred on by the thought of a 49. However, that came and went eventually as the clocked ticked into the 50s as I was still about 0.3miles shy of the distance. Still I managed a good 340watts for the last 40 second to cross the line with a time of 50.40.

Initially I was disappointed to not have had the trip socks, faster tyres/tubes and a potential shout of a 49, but a 50min time isn’t too bad for 310w average still. Plenty more to come there I’m sure. Still, it was obviously a very fast day as the team 25m TT record was broken four times over, with the winner, John Dewey setting the fastest ever amateur 25 time, a short 45, and the 3rd fastest UK competition time (Second only to Alex Dowsett and Marcin Bialoblocki), very impressive stuff indeed.

Impressive also were Pat and Rob from Paceline who managed 46 and 47min times respectively. Although I think Rob was less than happy with his ride due to a late position change and 25w less than usual. Pat’s efforts got him 3rd, so great ride there. Looking forward to a couple more TTs across the next few weekends now. A quickish 10 course on good Friday. Interested to see if I can hold 340w or so there, then another 25 the following Saturday.

Stravahttps://www.strava.com/activities/933462306

Avg Power: 309w

NP Power: 310w

Avg Speed: 29.6mph

Surrey League – Kirdford 2/3

So this weekend was the first road race of the season for me. In years gone by I’d typically done a crit or two in the run up to the new season, but having started from almost zero this winter after quite a long layoff I chose to wait a bit longer, and stick to some TTs instead, which I’ve also enjoyed. The watts/form just hasn’t been anywhere near where I’d like until after Spain and a couple of months of coached training. Fast forward to the end of March and the numbers are starting to approach where I was for a good chunk of last year which is pleasing to see, but still a fair way off from where I want things to be. I’ve managed to shed 5kg since the beginning of the year, but aiming to lose the same again to be in much better shape as well.

I’d had a reasonable weeks training through the week, a good tempo session Thursday, easy day Friday, then planned a couple of hours Saturday, but when out on the bike felt extremely weak, with 250w+ very difficult which worried me quite a bit, not felt that bad in a while. Went home ate a good meal of pasta in the evening, loaded up on electrolytes and hoped for the best.

Slightly annoyingly the race was at 9.30am, on the morning after the clocks going forward, which meant effectively a 6am alarm call. Not the usual for a Sunday! Ended up at the HQ pretty early still and got set up and signed in. The race was full up with 60 riders and a fair few teams with strong representation, namely Paceline with 9 riders! Dynamo, Southdowns, Meudon and RPR all with reasonably strong looking teams. RPR had been cleaning up at races of late, so knew they were ones to watch very closely as well. A few Paceline riders seemed keen for breaks, I mentioned I’d go for the sprint if it was all together at the end, but was keen to try and get away on the 2nd last, or last lap over the finish hill.

We rolled out together, into the sunshine, cold, but a lovely day for early season, with a reasonable easterly wind. 2.9 miles neutralised to the circuit reminded me the sketchy nature of following the lead car closely, with people surging and breaking all over the place. I was feeling pretty nervous, not having raced since September last year, and unsure of how the legs would be after Saturday, and more importantly in terms of overall fitness. We turned right onto the circuit, and as the lead car accelerated off the pace really kicked up. Quickly down the hill towards the finish straight, with the pace over the finish hill feeling quite hard to my legs. In that first lap a couple of attacks went and the pace settled a bit. I tried to sit well within the bunch, keen not to use much early on, as a long one seemed pretty much doomed to fail with so much power in the main group, 214w for the first lap.

On the second lap I saw a couple of Paceline heading up the road so decided to move up and try and set a bit of false tempo on the front with Paul and Colin.

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Riders up the road seemed to have a good gap, with I believe Damien of Paceline up the road at this point I think with up to a minute on the bunch, so appeared to be going well. I was hoping the race would stay this way for another lap at least, as lasting in a break 30 miles long would seem unlikely. However, on the finish hill with 3 laps left to ride I noticed two RPR riders moving up on the right. I was toward the front of the group and so luckily they were at the start of their move. I quickly jumped into their wheels, and sure enough they kicked hard up the hill. I followed, which took a good amount of watts, 800w for 30s to hold on, then I came round on the second kick of the hill to put in a strong turn to try and secure the jump away from the main bunch. A few others managed to follow, so the 6 of us put some reasonably good work in to get up the road. In fairly short order we closed on a few others up the road, some of who held on and some who didn’t. After a lap of hard riding we were joined by a couple of dynamos, but our gap looked solid, going up to about 90seconds I believe at one point, with most of the teams represented I guess the bunch would have slowed slightly, helped by some good false tempo.

The second lap away felt harder, with plenty of riders starting to miss turns, and the organisation of riders failing slightly. 4 Southdown’s riders had managed to get in the break, so they started to try and get away from this group on their own, while the rest of them sat in in the remainder of the group, which made things all the more tough chasing them down or trying to follow.

Over the finish hill with 1 to go I was really starting to feel the effort, and ended up a good few bike lengths off the back of the group. I struggled over the next rise, hoping I could nail the descent and find a wheel to follow, luckily the group seemed to slow just a bit at the right time and I re-joined, attempting to hide in the wheels a bit to recover.  Again for the remainder of the lap a few riders attempted to get up the road again, but I was in no position to chase and largely just held on, having to get out of the saddle several times, working hard just to keep contact. Eventually after what felt like forever, we made the left turn onto Plaistow road, and a bit of downhill. The group slowed a lot as the rest of the attacks failed and people started to look at each other ahead of the sprint, so the group of 15 or so of us rolled toward the finish. The pace picked up a bit toward the final left hander, but I’d had a small breather. The guys at the front of the bunch hit it early and were a fair way up the road already, I used what I had left and tried to sprint for the line, leaving a few others behind to cross the line in 8th, just behind the first bunch of finishers. RPR finished 1 and 2, impressive riding from them considering the 4 riders from Southdown’s in the break. Damien finished in the next group down from me, with everything having split up on the finish hill, with the rest of Paceline rolling in with the bunch.

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Overall fairly pleased with placing, considering my first race of the season. Hopefully plenty more of fitness to find, and a bit more endurance to last a bit longer in the break. Happy to have made the race winning selection though and to have held on, where in previous years I may well have thrown in the towel. I’d ended up with 319w NP for the 2:20 of racing, which I think is reasonably comfortably the highest I’ve done for that length of time. Average watts look ok with about 295w for an hour, still quite a bit down on what I’ve done in the past. Sprint watts not great with peak at 1122w and 860w for 20s, but considering I’ve not done a huge amount of sprint efforts yet this year, I suppose not too bad.

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Redhill 18 & Maidenhead 15

Next up is another sporting TT, the Redhill 18. I’ve not race the event before so will be interesting to see how I go. Aiming to prepare a little better for this one, so hopefully I can hold similar/slightly more watts for the c.45 minute duration. That’s the plan anyway! After that it’s another week’s training in London before I head off to Spain with a bunch of other Paceline riders, to hopefully enjoy the Sun and get a good amount of training in!

As mentioned in the previous post, just a week after the KW14 was the Redhill 18, not too dissimilar a course, just one big lap, starting with the steep Coast hill, finishing on the back half of the G10/42 course. I was hoping for more than a week earlier, but realistically this seemed a touch unlikely, especially given I’d not really ridden the course before. The roads were a bit damp, so really committing to blind corners without knowing the roads was a lot to ask. At least the weather was better, and no gloves required this time round. I set off up Coast Hill doing somewhere near 400w, not ideal at the beginning of an 18m TT. Soon settled into something of a rhythm on the rolling roads.

I was aiming for somewhere around 305w, but even after 10mins riding or so this felt like it would be tough. Not ideal with a long way to go, and it was frustrating to not know the roads well enough to really attack some of the turns. Instead I was in and out of the extensions and up and down out of the saddle when the road kicked up. After about 12 miles of riding, it was onto the arrow straight A29 which kicked up at the end slightly. The legs were in a world of pain by this point, and I was losing watts from the average quickly. My head was really gone by this stage, and I just wanted to see the end. Looking back, this is what lack of fitness feels like, doing modest power, and unable to even hold on to that for 50mins, about 50w down on what I’m capable of.

TT Bike Pic.jpg

Eventually made it onto the dual carriageway section, knowing I was largely home and dry by this point, I was able to find a few more watts, finishing the last 5mins at 315w for a total finish time of 44:28 for 291w. Dissapointing, and a course which was pretty grim too.

Rolled back to the hall to find Rob and Pat had finished 1st and 2nd, well clear of the field with 3rd Paceline rider Paul on his road bike, with a fantastic ride to win that category as well. I couldn’t be too upset, training had gotten a lot better, but was still lacking the build up of good volume in the legs.

Next up was the now annual trip to the Calpe area of Spain with 9 other Paceline lads. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say it was a weeks superb riding in great weather with great company, and superb hosting. I finished the week with over 350 miles and about 26 hours riding in the tank. Some nice new power pb’s and near on 1500tss as well! Good week. I’d secretly been a bit nervous about my knee on the trip due to the issues earlier in the year, but it threw up no problems whatsoever.

I came back to London, and the cold, with a very easy week to allow myself some much needed recovery time followed by a weekend trip to Newcastle, no cycling involved!

The following week was more full on training with some good intervals, all with the aim of setting up for Saturday, and the Maidenhead cc 15mile TT on the Drift Road Course. Two times down drift road, with a left turn up another road to finish. A flatter course, and hopefully a bit more suited to my build. Running up to the event I was hopeful, I’d had a good week’s training, and having done some big power pb’s for the year in Spain, I was hopeful I’d be going well, with the aim to do the 35 odd minutes around 330w. The weather, despite looking like it would be great during the week, turned into a big old headwind blowing down drift road making things a lot more difficult.

As usual I set off hopeful and with a fair amount of watts off the start, settling into about 350w into the big headwind. It was tough going, at times in the top sprocket still in the big ring, grinding away a bit. Left turn at the end of Drift rd, and things started to get a bit quicker as the tailwind picked me up. Still feeling pretty good, I was really trying to remember to shrug my shoulders up, but i’m sure it only ever lasts a few seconds before my focus is elsewhere and I’m back in the normal position. The tailwind seemed to last well, and before I knew it I was back on towards drift road again, and into the grim headwind. Everything slowed down again, but I was still just about able to hold onto the watts. Left turn at the end again, and I was conscious to get out of the saddle as I find it seems to help clear the legs out a bit. Back into the extensions, and again a few sharper turns allowed me time to get out of the saddle. The watts were beginning to drop slightly, and I was really holding on, but was desperate to keep the average high.

Eventually I was able to make the left turn onto the finishing road,  knowing I only had about 1.5miles to go I tried to drill it too the line, but the legs seemed sporadic at best, still I was able to hold 344w for the last 3mins, crossing the line in 35:25 averaging 329w ap / 333w np .

I cruised back to HQ, taking the wrong turn and ending up back down drift road to the end again 🙁  After getting back there was a bit of a wait for results, but when they came in it was a clear win for Liam Maybank with 33:08, still I was very happy to be just over 2minutes away from him, although less happy that the 3 in front of me were all within 10 seconds, shouldn’t have got out of the saddle! Still, as mentioned I was hoping for about 330w, and I largely got there, and +25w vs the KW14 in February, and a 6th position. Seems like a good marker of progress. Clearly the benefit of a week in Spain is starting to come through, and I’m now largely back to the sort of numbers I was seeing during summer last year.

Hopefully with more proper targeted training to come I can add another 25w to that again. In terms of up coming events, Kirdford 2/3 RR this Sunday. A circuit which should really suit a rider like me. Then a few more TT’s mostly 10s and 25s. Looking forward to testing myself on a 10 as I’m certain most rides for now will be pb’s.

KW Sporting 14 

Bit of an update since last time. My knee appears to have gotten largely back to normal now which is positive. I’d been racking my brain as to what if anything had changed which may have caused the issue, as I was sure I’d not moved saddle, cleat or any other positional stuff on my bike. I suddenly realised that due to the cold, I’d been riding with both a pair of tights (with pad) and pair of shorts over the top also with a pad. This seemingly was enough to effectively raise my saddle height enough to cause problems. After the next ride with just one pad things felt instantly better, and I could now ride for a lot longer sans pain. However this didn’t completely solve things and I still get a small amount of lingering pain toward the end of longer rides. I’m doing some strengthening exercises so am hoping this solves it, as a change so marginal obviously highlights that the knee joint is seemingly a little weak. 

So after all of that I’ve begun stepping the volume up slightly, I finished January having done just under 31 hours riding, or 501 miles at 1900 TSS. Quite a way down on 2016 which was just under 43 hours, 695 miles at 2940 TSS! Still, I seem to be feeling a lot better on the bike now, and although the watts are still comparatively low vs. last year I’m sure I’ll be making improvements in the not too distant future. I’ve also managed to shed 5kg of festive weight gain; having blossomed to 90kg over xmas, I’m now back under a slightly more respectable 85kg. Not too bad going in 6 weeks, plenty more to come there though. Ideally I’ll be under 80kg by the end of March.

KW Sporting 14 – 2017

I’ve had an entry to this each year from 2015, however 2016 I didn’t manage to make the startline due to illness. So my only comparison is as a fairly green cyclist, in my first proper CTT time trial (See here! – http://twhatley.com/?m=201502). As mentioned in 2015, the course for anyone that doesn’t know it, is two almost 7 mile laps, with the beginning half lap largely an uphill drag, followed by a section of rolling A-road, before a steady downhill/flat section back to the start of the lap. The surface is pretty universally broken up tarmac, plenty of potholes, interspersed with a billiard table smooth few resurfaced sections on the uphill drag. Going into this I’d only done one FTP test at the beginning of the year, with a sore knee, so I was pretty unsure of how many watts I’d be doing, let alone targeting. I knew I’d be getting a time somewhere around 34-25 minutes so was hoping to hit 320-330w given the recent improvements in my numbers. However, my prep was less than ideal. An indian takeaway and a few glasses of red wine do not make for good prep. I woke up feeling like I had a hangover, presumably due to all the salt in the food, so set about trying to hydrate as well as get some caffeine down.

After a warm up of sorts, namely riding up and down the road to try and build some warmth I headed for the start line, and reluctantly gave up my jacket to MattW who was at the start watching (Cheers Matt). I set off on time and quickly settled into the aerobars up hungry hill lane, I was quickly over my target watts as I tried to get going, but moreso than usual I was very conscious of not going out too hard. Exactly what I had done on my last few TT’s. With the initial climb out the way it was just various pothole based obstacles to negotiate, as well as the draggy climb to the A-road. I was by this point below target watts wise, but holding around 320w until the A-road, although it felt very slow. Along the A-road fine, and down onto the descent through some minor roads, and fairly dodgy corners which I took out of the aerobars and pretty steadily. Next the fun section, downhill and back to the line. Felt like I had some decent speed but the watts were dropping, and by this point I was down to 304w average. Not ideal, but the whole time I was very concerned with not blowing on the back half of the second lap.

Through the start/finish, I took the climb pretty steadily, even shifting into the small ring as I was finding myself on the 25t at the back due to a 55t chainring at the front. Back onto the A-road and the watts felt like they were dropping slightly, averaging just 292w for the next trip along this section. Turning onto the downhill with just a few miles to go I still felt like I had a good amount left to give, and being in sight of the finish I wasn’t in danger of blowing up. For the last 4 minutes I averaged 330w. I thought it was higher at the time, often looking down to see 360w+ but the corners and watts dropping while I wasn’t looking at my garmin must have meant it was less than my imagination, although the last two minutes were 350w. I crossed the line and immediately felt I should have gone a little harder throughout, with too much left at the end. I wasn’t too sure of the time either due to starting my garmin about half a minute before the start, although knew I must have done a 33.something, which seemed OK.

Pootle back to the HQ and met up with all the other Paceline guys. Great rides from Pat and Rob, with them coming 5th and 2nd respectively, with Rob missing out by just 4 seconds, but setting a new CR, before it being beaten by John Dewey, the winner. My time also meant we picked up the team prize, also missing out on the CR by just 4 seconds. Paul Moore also put in a stellar ride to take the road bike win, only 22 seconds back on my time, and 10th overall!

Good fun, and a very nice c.3 minute improvement vs my 2015 effort, which I thought was interesting to look at as per the below! Which shows how far back I was in 2015, also how close o was to 7th and 8th this year. Must try harder! Also impressive just how far ahead the rest are.

Next up is another sporting TT, the Redhill 18. I’ve not race the event before so will be interesting to see how I go. Aiming to prepare a little better for this one, so hopefully I can hold similar/slightly more watts for the c.45 minute duration. That’s the plan anyway! After that it’s another week’s training in London before I head off to Spain with a bunch of other Paceline riders, to hopefully enjoy the Sun and get a good amount of training in!

January Update

Thought I’d update this with action since the last post from some time ago. Since then, not an awful lot of activity to report, much less than I’d ideally like!

Through November I picked up the bike a little more than October, after having gotten somewhat fed up of riding and really not enjoying it too much. Which I think is a familiar pattern. The weather, the sunlight hours the lack of racing and motivation at an incoming December. December as expected was my lowest cycling month through the whole year, with only 350 miles covered and just c.1200 TSS. Not ideal. A culmination of nearly all of my main friendship group having birthday’s in December, including my own, as well as all of the usual work and social Christmas associated events. I had good intentions of getting some festive miles in while I was staying with my parents across the Christmas break, but a broken spoke on my only set of wheels I had with me put paid to that. A well, I’ll pick things up in January….

Before I get on to January I’ll cover off the only event I did ride in December, which was my first time at the Bentley Xmas 10, which was obviously a 10mile TT on the Farnham/Bentley H10/8 course. I’d not ridden the course before, nor driven it but had been told it was largely flat with a few rises. My gear choices were my Cervelo P5 TT bike, 60mm carbon clinchers, new Paceline Skinsuit sans speedpocket as it stands, Velotoze, trip socks and Giro Selector Helmet (which I’ll come on to later).

I’d not been riding too much, so didn’t really have high hopes in terms of watts for this TT, but was keen to ride H10/8 and just pin a number on, as it had been a while. Who knows, may even give me a bit more motivation to train!

I set off and about 50m down the road settled into the aerobars and noticed that the helmet wouldn’t sit back on my head, allowing me to see the road. I could barely see a handful of metres in front of me. Quite worrying on a dual carriageway course I’d not ridden before. I tried to carry on and just gently tip my head or the helmet back but it wasn’t much use, so I had to pick my head right up every 50m or so in order to see where I was, and what was coming up. Not in the least bit aero!

In any case, my legs actually felt ok, and I got to the turn with 339w (probabaly over pacing it). But by the turn I was considering throwing in the towel as I clearly wasn’t anywhere near a halfway decent time and was probably putting myself in more danger than necessary. I had a word with myself and carried on anyway, finishing up at 323w and a Garmin time of 22:06. Official time 22:19.

Disappointing given that I’d done a 22:22 in September on H10/3a where the course records are a full 90 seconds apart. Encouraging however in that with the right kit and helmet I could actually get near a half decent time. Since then I’ve got a proper disc wheel on order, and a Bell Javelin helmet which actually fits me in an aero position. I’m also waiting on getting some J bend extensions to change from the current S bends as I’m almost certain I’ll be able to get my wrists more comfortable, and my shoulders lower and more relaxed, but we’ll see.

Anyhow, some great rides by Pat, Keith, Ayrton and Rob to take joint first, and almost the team prize. Hopefully next time I can be a little more competitive. 

Into January now, and I’d loosely set out the below aims at the end of last year:

Train all the way through winter, build more consistency and volume Taking this one directly from last year’s goals. (Shit, I’ve basically already missed this one….)

Justify my retained 2nd Cat licence with a 2/3 RR Winmissed out on this one this year (2016), but entirely sure given the right circumstances I’m capable.

Short 20 min 10TTHad a TT bike for the end of this season, and now have some more of the right gear, skinsuit etc. Just need to sort out a disc wheel, then start playing with positions. Fairly sure I can start to be reasonably quick if I’m able to repeat/improve on the watts I had this year. Best 20min was 350w in 2016 (held that for 25mins, so room for improvement anyway), targeting 365w for 2017 with a stretch goal of 370w. – As above shows, right course, right day, right kit, I should be quite a bit above my most recent results, but we’ll see 

Podium again at RPTTProbably the best chance is going to be road bike, but will see closer to the time how the TT bike is going. – Looking forward to this one again, probably one of my best results from 2016.

Pointless one – Sub 15min RP lap Managed 15:16 this year on the road bike with limited aero kit, so hopefully can get somewhere below 15 again. Should be a dead cert on the TT bike…

Once more will be looking to lose 5kg, but I tried and failed once more this year, and in fact ended up putting more weight acting like a fat cat banker, I ended the year at a whopping 90kg, my heaviest since I lost weight from 107kg to 76kg. I’ve since lost another 3kg so am down to 87kg now. Would ideally like this to be 80kg, but I’m at least going in the right direction for this. Would really like to race May 3 day again, easily the most enjoyable race of 2016 for me. 

So with these aims in mind, the last couple of years I’ve seen fairly decent increases in power numbers, FTP has moved from 254w in 2013 to 304w in 2014, 320w in 2015 and finally 340w in 2016 (so pretty much +20w per year). These are all with pretty unstructured training, just riding hard and easy rides, and racing during the summer. However I decided that I wanted a bit more from this year so decided on looking at getting a coach to help me make the most of my training time, and hopefully end up with better power numbers, as a result of more efficient, targeted training. I looked at a number of outfits, but ultimately decided on the one that seemed to have the most scientific approach, with masses of experience in the industry evident.

I started the plan on 15th January although all has not gone well since then. On a particularly wet ride out to Windsor on 8th Jan I seemed to pick up a real issue with my left knee, and on the way back to London it really began to hurt on the medial side. Odd I thought as I’d not moved cleat positions for about 3 years, and I’d never really experienced knee pain while cycling before, despite the knee in questions having undergone multiple surgeries, including an ACL reconstruction. I took it fairly easy home, then rested the next day, but going out on the bike again and the same pain was back after 20 mins riding. I rested again, but it was still there, albeit less intense after another few days’ rest. So fast forward to 23rd January and I’ve managed all of 317 miles in January so far. Very worrying for the season ahead, given that I’m supposed to be off to Spain for a week’s riding at the end of February, just five weeks away.. Not happy! I’ve got physio booked in now, so will have to take it from there and reassess.

In the meantime I’m booked in to ride the KW Sporting 14 on 12th Feb, and the Redhill 18 on the 19th Feb, but may well have to re-consider closer to the time when the knee situation becomes a little clearer. All in all a little bit of a disappointing beginning to the year, but hopefully things will get a little better in the not too distant future.

Site update

If you’ve visited this site in the past couple of months you probably found it offline. I had a bit of a hosting disaster and in the process of changing companies managed to delete all my content. After using some internet archives and some patchy backups, I’ve managed to piece it back together, albeit with a load of missing links/pictures. Everything prior to this year is largely complete, however I’m missing quite a few races from 2016 which is pretty frustrating.

Will aim to go back over the site in the next week or two adding back what I can, and will obviously update things going forward, as well as backing up regularly!

Handicap Champs

I was in the 5th group on the road of 8, along with Andrew Davis, Paul Hone, another addiscombe who just sat at the back of the bunch the entire time despite some kind words, and a couple of other reasonable riders who were all doing their fair share. We worked OK together, organised, but not that quick and I was conscious of not really pushing all that hard on the front and getting out of the wind quickly. I’d done a 10 the day before, and wasn’t really sure how the legs were feeling, given I’m not used to that sort of effort at the moment, didn’t feel achey, just a bit wooden. Very quickly we were caught, with one of the Nuun guys absolutely belting past. I jumped on to the fast moving train and settled in, again trying to avoid sitting in the wind too much. For the next few laps it was just preservation and keeping in the bunch until the rest were caught. I did end up on the front several times, and by this point my legs had turned up, so was feeling decent. I did give it some gas on one lap up the climb just to see where things were, and if I could create a gap. Then a few more laps in another split in the bunch occurred, which I bridged across to, stupidly burning another match, but after half a lap the rest of the bunch just closed the gap anyway. After this I was trying to keep a watch on Chris M and trying to follow his moves after Rob had mentioned he would be in, or have a hand in making the final selection

I knew Rob and Chris were planning to go on the hill, possibly on the last lap, as it turned out, coming up for 2 to go Rob came past and gave me a nod, at about the same time as Chris absolutely launched up the hill with Rob in tow. I had to move out of the bunch a bit and then kick hard, peak power 1200w, followed by 900w for 20s and then another 430w for 3mins just to follow the attack, but as we came up the second kick of a hill I was completely cooked. I sat up a bit to regain some breath and attached myself the the remainder of the bunch and sat in for the next 3rd of a lap. Rob’s group seemed to be gaining ground, and it seemed to me any chance of a result hinged on getting into that group, as it didn’t feel like it would come back together. A couple of others had the same idea, a young VCL and another who I can’t recall and were attempting to bridge. I sprinted past the bunch, and used those guys as drafts, slingshotting past to try and get myself to the front group, but the effort was one too many and after coming within a 100m or so I just couldn’t make it, so sat back up and drifted back to the bunch once more, before sitting in again. Then on the bell lap up the hill the pace surged once more, but all the efforts so far had me cooked, and I fell off the back of the bunch one final time. Slightly frustrating, maybe if I’d have been following the wheel for the attack with 2 to go I’d have been able to hold on, but that’s a pretty enormous maybe still.

Kind of glad the season is over now, doubt i’ll race again until maybe winter series, looking forward to getting back to some solid blocks of training.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/716524478

Avg Power: 254w

NP Power: 310w

Avg Speed: 25.3mph

WLCA H10/3a

For a while I’d been wanting to get back on to a TT bike, especially after the Richmond Park TTs and having developed a few more watts across this year I was keen to see what that would transfer to in some proper time trials. In my previous life as a triathlete I had a nice Cervelo P3, which was a good bike, but several sizes too big, so after the triathlon thing finished, and I was in my early days as a road cyclist, I decided to sell it on, also knowing it was ideally too big for me. See below, hanging off the front of the saddle, all the way forward!

Anyhow, fast forward to the end of this year, I’d narrowed my search down to a fast frame like another appropriately sized P2/P3/P5 or a speed concept when a P5 frame came up for sale at a good price, I couldn’t refuse. It was a 51cm, but with the right components I was confident I could make it fit. I started building it up a few weeks ago, and had entered the WLCA 10 as its first outing. The H10/3a course is on roads I used to train on, so know them fairly well. Fairly quiet from traffic, lumpy and grippy, but pleasant roads. Not a “fast” course by any stretch, but a good test nonetheless. I was still missing quite a bit of kit I’d wanted to sort, like a proper TT helmet and skinsuit but it would be a good test of the bike/position anyway.

Before the start – excuse all the wheel cover tape!
The weather was suitably grim for September, chilly after days of 30c at around 15c with a strong northerly wind, meaning the outward leg would be fast downwind, then the race for home into the wind. I tried to factor this into my pacing, but that didn’t seem to work particularly well. I went out fairly hard, trying to keep a lid on it, but ultimately failing to do so, completing outward leg in 11:17 (29.2mph at 328w) 7 seconds faster than anybody else on the day. 

I was hopeful I could ramp the watts up for the way back in, but was starting to get restless in the TT position for whatever reason. Still haven’t got the setup quite right, and think I may have been a bit cramped up. Anyway, the watts started to come down a bit, and into wind, back up the inclines things slowed and I was struggling to keep the watts. A descent half a mile before the line gave me the respite I needed, and I was able to do the remaining half mile at 360w to cross the line in 22:22, 13 seconds down on 1st place.

Finish

Had I not faded, or paced better I may have taken the win. Long ride back to the HQ to give my number back, then I had to dash off before properly seeing the results to pick up my mother, who’d come to watch/photograph and was still out on the course.

In the end my time was good enough for 2nd, given the actual 2nd best time was placed in the vets category. Pleased with that given its my first proper open TT of the year, not including RP TTs. Bodes reasonably well for next year when I’ll aim to do more TTing. Hopefully by then I can sort position and kit, and be a little faster.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/715326205

Avg Power: 323w 

NP Power: 330w

Avg Speed: 27.1mph

Cyclopark – Crits at the Park 2/3

Just 1 point stood between myself and maintaining my 2nd Cat licence for another year, so I was keen to get it knocked on the head before the race season finished proper. A crit at cyclopark seemed like a great way to do this, with what looked like a fairly small field with just 20 entered. I’d not raced cyclopark all year, despite it being one of my favourite places to race. The course seems to suit me very well being technical, but requiring a good sprint, as well as enough power to get up the modest start/finish incline. I was looking forward to this, as the legs were starting to feel better again, and suited to crit riding rather than longer road race type efforts.

Things kicked off to a fairly subdued start, with the wind typically blowing a tough headwind down the back straight, plenty of riders were keen to avoid getting their nose in the wind. After a lap or two settling in I decided to put a dig in out of the left hander at the end of the back straight, stringing things out down all the way up to the hairpin. The next lap, looking back we were one rider down, with the pace proving too much. One less rider to take points from! A few more laps and things started slowing a bit, before a lone rider made a break. The bunch didn’t seem interesting and he hung off the front at 30 seconds for several laps before eventually sitting up.

At the halfway point and a few more riders having succumbed to the effort things were looking good, and I was making sure to ride in the wheels and conservatively, knowing this was a great opportunity to bag the last point in the sprint. Looking round the bunch was down to just 13 riders, with the top 10 paying points. A couple more riders tried to get moves up the road but things were largely being well marked so I continued to sit in the wheels, with the effort feeling tough but manageable.

The laps ticked down and with a couple to go two riders chipped off the front and were gone, with nobody really interesting in committing after them, least of all me I sat in waiting for the bell. Eventually the bell lap came and things weren’t as fast as is typical with the reduced bunch. I knew I likely wasn’t aiming for the win here, but as long as I could beat a couple of riders to the line I was happy. In light of which I positioned myself much further forward than I would have otherwise for fear of being boxed in, however unlikely due to the amount of riders. Into the last couple of corners and I was second wheel. Round the last bend the rider ahead kicked fairly hard up the initial climb, so I followed starting a fairly long sprint, which kicked up a gear round the final kink. I was being mobbed slightly by other riders, but in the last couple of hundred metres was making ground, and able to take several places back to cross the line in 8th and 3 points. Had to be happy with that.

So finally I’ve been able to race a bit more sensibly rather than constantly going for the win, usually solo, which resulted in a decent few races and my 2nd Cat licence for another year. Not quite the second year performance I had in my mind’s eye, but I don’t think I can be too disappointed given the amount of riding/racing, and especially my weight, which has been more of a hindrance this year as I’ve managed to gain a few kg! Still, at least that leaves me with plenty to accomplish for next year.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/690913452

Avg Power: 275w

NP Power: 350w

Avg Speed: 24mph

Rest of the season plans.

I only have one further road race in the calendar at the moment, which is the handicap championships, which is on a course that suits, but remains to be seen how the handicapping will work out. I’ve also recently picked up a new TT frame which I’m building up, and have entered a few late season TT’s with a view to competing against the clock a little more next year. Something I’ve previously enjoyed, and now with more watts at my disposal should be slightly faster at too.