I only did one Handicap race this year when I was fairly out of shape, needless to say on a bad day I ended up getting binned. For anyone unaware, the basic premise is that groups of relevantly matched riders are set off in equal sized groups with slowest off first. The idea being that the race comes together towards the end and riders contest from there. This hinges on the handicapper giving relevant gaps and grouping riders well, as well as riders actually paying their dues and working within the group. Often there is a shirker who aim to be carried to the finish in better shape than the rest of their group, which usually makes the whole thing fall apart. “normal” handicaps are on weekday evenings and last around an hour or so, being raced like a crit.
Once a year the HC championship comes along and is the same format as above but across a longer, road race distance of 60-70 miles. This usually attracts a decent field, and is a pretty fun race with Elites down to 3rd Cats contesting the win. I raced last year, where the race came together pretty quickly and then proceeded to play out like a more typical road race. I narrowly missed making the key selection, so with a better prep I was hopeful of getting something from the race.
After signing on we were grouped up, most of the groups looked ok, with a couple of outliers, including a few strong riders in groups very close to the front. Myself and Paul were in the second last group, with Rob and Pat in the scratch group. Our group also had some strong riders, notable for the wrong reasons Tom Percival and Dan Cooper of RPR. There were plenty of other contenders across the rest of the groups. Rob had won last year, but Tom Hargreaves and a couple of other Nuun riders would be dangerous as would quite a few others.
As mentioned earlier, and I’m not sure if RPR got the memo, but handicaps tend to fall apart quite quickly if folk don’t work, and it kind of takes the fun out of it given that the gaps are based on the assumption people will ride. Eventually our group was up, and so we headed out of the car park. Immediately rotating through each rider in our group, with the exception of the two RPR. After rolling through I asked them if they planned to ride at all, to which they both happily said no. This meant the rest of the group were less than willing to really flog themselves to drag these two round.
This meant we were caught in not too much time by the scratch group, were there was another non-working RPR in Arlen. The rest of the group seemed more content rolling through so we started to pick up time on the groups up the road. After a while of riding, and having only picked up a few groups up the road, we were about halfway through the race when several riders started attacking, which was a bit bizarre given the amount of people still effectively up the road.
In the end those “attackers” we left to ride, who reached the front group, then a fairly small front group contested the finish. I forget now who even won, I watched the finish as I punctured with two to go. Nevertheless the race was probably one of the most boring I’ve done this year, frustrating for what is usually one of the most enjoyable, a shame really, again caused by the racers of RPR who I can only assume believe they’re outsmarting everyone else. Go figure.
P881R Paceline RT 10
I’d targeted two 10’s toward the end of the season as close out races, with the hope of a pb given that conditions are usually pretty settled during September. The first of which was the UTAG race, which ended up being cancelled due to the severe rain, with the second of which was Paceline’s own promotion. The weather looked very touch and go with extraordinarily heavy and very localised showers passing through the area. In the end we got away with it weather wise, and despite the rain in the area conditions looked quick. I’d made a few more tweaks and so was hopeful of recording something decent, given the PB was still 19.18 from F11/10 which was a less than perfect run.
Off I went into the gloomy weather, legs felt fine, but with the garmin having been changed position slightly I was struggling to keep on top of tracking where my watts were exactly. The way out still felt pretty quick, with my watts at 331w, not really the greatest, but not the worst. I was held up very briefly on the roundabout but nothing much to worry about. Still feeling alright and with the weather holding on I set about the return, looking at the time a 19 looked on which I was ok with. The feeling of headwind never really came, and the watts were still there. Eventually, after the midway roundabout I realised I was on for a good time as I’d already gone 8 miles in under a few seconds 15mins. Now stupidly, in my head during a TT I’ve still never managed to work out how long a mile takes at just over 30mph. But doing 2 miles in under 4 minutes seemed doable to me at the time (As it happens a 30mph mile takes 2 minutes, who knew). Anyway, this spurred me on, the thought of a long 18, so I tucked in and got my head down for the last couple of miles, averaging 340w and doing it in 3:50 at 31.6mph to clock an 18:55 which I was very very pleased with. In the end the entire home leg I managed 340w which I think is the first proper negative split I’ve really done which was also a big plus. I rolled back to the HQ to see a host of other quick times. My 18:55 was good enough for 8th, with Rob 2nd to Boyman with 18:20 (pb) and Pat not too far behind in 6th with 18:45, also a pb. This was the probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to Pat too. Those times also meant we just pipped Nuun to the team prize. All in all a great event, and great way to sign off TTs for the season. (Xmas 10 excluded).
End of Season review:
Train all the way through winter, build more consistency and volume – I kind of missed the boat on this one a bit. As my performance management chart shows I took it pretty easy through the back half of 2016, especially November to December where my CTL dropped by 20 points down to 50. This meant I had to really ramp up in January through to March in order to get ready for training camp and then the rest of the season. This was derailed when I tried to do too much too soon and picked up a really niggling knee injury. Not the most simple of issues at the best of times, but not helped by having already had an ACL reconstruction, meniscectomy and a few other minor keyhole knee surgeries on the knee in question. I’d also started the New Year with a coach, which wasn’t being put to much use now! Through Feb I began to be able to increase the volume a bit, and the knee was just about healed again by March and the training camp which went well, even though I was still quite a bit down on CTL year on year, which pretty much carried through until early April. So, in summary, goal definitely not achieved, and I was bitten for trying to make up for lost time as well. Aim to be a lot more proactive this year, and have set out a plan to pick things up in November this year, after having a very light month in October.
Justify my retained 2nd Cat licence with a 2/3 RR Win – Definitely missed this one, best result was the beginning of the season 8th I managed which was disappointing. I raced a lot less on the road than I anticipated and wasn’t in great shape for most of the season, but was realistically never really in danger of troubling the podium. Stage 1 of the 3 day was a target but a mechanical put paid to that. Again in summary, goal not achieved, must work harder.
Short 20 min 10TT – My first major success of these goals. As talked about through the year I picked up a TT frame end of 2016 and started to build it up doing a couple of early season races where I placed ok. The breakthrough came early in season when after getting the bike how I wanted it I got close to going sub 50 on a fast 25. This was my first TT approaching 30mph and showed me that I was already fairly aero and should be aiming for sub 20 realistically. A further breakthrough came on H10/22 where I managed an early season 19:55, blowing apart my own expectations and setting me on a course to chasing pb’s through the rest of the year, and really concentrating on TTing in general. Through the year I gradually improved position most notably after a visit to aerocoach, eventually recording a 49:26 and massive wattage pb at the National 25 to finish 39th. Not long after, I then managed to get down to 18:55 on P881R. So from targeting a short 20min 10TT, I ended the year on both all-time fastest lists for 10 and 25 mile distances, which is probably my best achievement of the season.
I plan to carry on with the TTing next year, using what I’ve learnt this year and targeting some new pb’s. I’ve set out a plan of changes which have isolated a further 20w I think I’ll be able to save, with more watts I’m hopeful of a better placing in the National events (Hopefully the 10 will be nearby this year) and some strong open results. I’m still yet to win an open too, so that’ll form one of next year’s aims.
Podium again at RPTT – This year after the relative TT success that had been seen to date I chose to do the TT bike category on these in favour of the road bike. I managed 3rd in the first, behind Pat and Rob. Then 2nd in the second event after just Pat, with Rob having chosen to do the road bike category. Pretty chuffed with that, but think I should be able to go one better next year.
Pointless one – Sub 15 Lap of RP – Had a couple of runs at this in some less than ideal conditions, but managed a 14:26 midway through the year. The leader board is now populated mostly with group riders as quite a few seem to be chainganging their way round, so this seems to have lost some its shine. I think getting close to the current KOM is very possible with some further aero work, but it also starts to feel pretty sketchy. Some of the speed needed in some of the parts of the park during open hours is very risky, and with more speedbumps this year, I’ll play this one by ear for next year.
Once more will be looking to lose 5kg, but I tried – I did ok on this one, managed to get as low as 81.5kg, from 90kg at the beginning of the year, but didn’t hold this for long. It did however coincide with peaking for the Nat 25, so I’ll be aiming to get a bit lighter still across winter.
Season Highlights: Nat 25, and P881R, for obvious reasons. Setting PB’s is always nice. Getting on the all-time fastest list for 10 and 25 TTs is also pretty cool. Surrey league TTT was also great fun, I’d done a few TTTs this year. This one was a bit more of an even though, across a grippy technical 34mile course. Keith Lea, Pat, Rob and I all rode. Keith punctured within the first few miles then I just about hung on to Pat and Rob to win from Nuun by a fair margin.
Season Lowlights: Mechanical at May 3 Day was incredibly frustrating after targeting the stage as getting a good finish, to lose it to mechanically was pretty galling. The HC Champs was also pretty disappointing for what is usually a season highlight. Taking a wrong turn at P881 was a low point as well, especially is it would have been a then PB. At least it taught me a few lessons about ensuring I know the course prior to the start.
Will be having a think about season goals for next year soon, in the mean time I’m planning to do a few late season crits to try and grab some points.