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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Richmond Park TT

So, not really a race as such, as the essence of time trialing of course is to race against only the clock (and indeed yourself if yo have previous times).

Richmond Park needs no introduction, most cyclists anywhere near the SE have ridden it, and for those outside the SE they will have been bored to tears with the endless threads on it on various forums, so will know it just as well!

I never really thought of doing anything like this until fairly recently, I was always under the impression that my best asset in cycling was my short burst power, which to an extent is true, but I'd done some decent solo efforts of varying distance over the past few weeks, so the idea to do something like this took shape. Most recently I managed to get into the park and do 3 fast UN-hindered laps, this gave me a bit of a shot in the arm, I knew I'd not be too far away from some of the faster times out there, but I managed to pace it well and come away with a pretty decent time of 49.17, for the distance which is 20.1 miles. Obviously this is not official, and means nothing more than a indicator of where you are at.

Anyway, at some point I'd entered the first of these TT's as they fill up pretty fast. The way they work is that there are category's for road bikes and TT, a road bike must not have deep wheels, tri bars, and the rider must wear a normal helmet. The course is a sporting course (not pan flat) and is 10.4 miles long, with one 180 deg turn on a small roundabout. The category I was going to go with was road, which meant taking off my Zipps and making sure it was all legal. There were 45 names on the start-sheet for the road categorie, and I only knew a few, which were all from KW so I knew who I would be close to time wise, and who would likely beat me based on me riding with him.

Being a first timer, and having never done a TT before, I was un-seeded and therefore set off first, this meant that my star-time was 6.07am. Lucky I live close then! On the morning it was a bit cold but wasn't anywhere near as windy as the day before which would have made it hard work. I had an idea on pacing, and had put down some time splits from Jim Ley's 2nd place time of 26.01 a couple of years ago. I knew that if I could be near those, then I'd do a decent time (even though the conditions could have been totally different, Jim says they were similar as it happens).

I set off 15th I think, I quickly got up to speed and settled into the drops to get as low as possible, I was going well along the straight flat section from Robin Hood to Roehampton, and caught my next man just after the first roundabout (the first of 5/6 as it happens). By the time I got to the top of the only notable hill (Sawyers Hill for those that know it) I was ahead of Jim's split, so was going ok. Down the long shallow downhill towards Kingston I tried to keep it as quick as possible, and passed a couple more riders down this stretch before the 180 turn, which due to it being a tiny roundabout was going to sap the speed in a big way - 28 mph - 12mph. Back up to speed for the long drag back to Richmond Gate, I think at this point there was a tailwind of small proportion, by the time I'd got back up to Richmond Gate I was still about 10-15 secs ahead of Jim's split. Back down Sawyers I knew this is where I could get some speed up, and I made sure to stay above 30 most of the way back down to Roehampton Gate. Now was the headwind it seemed, it felt a bit like hard work to be honest. I grinded my way down to the final little ramp up to the finish and at this point was about 20 secs in front of the splits, put in a big effort up the hill but felt like I was going nowhere, and crossed the line, glanced down and saw 25.39, which got turned into 25.43 as I started the garmin a bit late, I then collapsed on a bench for a few mins :)

Given I went out so early, it was a long wait for others to slowly come through, a lot of 27's, a few 26's when we got to the sharp end of the field, Alex came into the carpark (who was the one person I thought I'd not be able to beat) and had given it a big effort, we waited for a while, he said he'd done around 26, eventually it came in and he'd done 25.53 so just 10 secs behind. We then got ready to get on the podium and bugger off back to bed, however it was then that news got back one of the fast TT guys (Xavier Disley) had switched to the road category, such was his reptation that to organizer had actually penned his name into 1st place before he had even finished (cheers for the confidence boost!). He came in, and also had given it a big effort, we waited for a few mins, turns out he did a 26.11 (I think?) which put him into 3rd spot.

A good day had by KW with 4 people accross the categories on the podium! Couple of snaps below, wish I could hold the flat back position for a few hours, but for 25 mins it was fine and felt very aero.

Alex, Xav and I on the podium -

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hillingdon 2/3/4

After a decent couple of weeks on the bike, there seemed to be a lack of races locally, so thought I'd go with the tried and trusted up at Hillingdon, which meant I could have many many beers at a BBQ that Sat night!

It has obviously been pretty hit and miss weather wise of late, and after having been blown to a stop on Millbank a few times I was really hoping it would subside somewhat. Woke up the Saturday and had a look out the window, thought to myself 'that tree isn't normally horizontal', balls, it was still stupidly windy.

Anyway, I spent the morning messing about with tyres as I didn't want to risk deep rims due to the wind, and possible poor riding, so put my shallow rims on, and then had a bout of OCD and cleaned every inch of them and the cassette with baby wipes...3 hours later I was ready to roll. The headwind was a joke, and getting to the track was hard enough! Came across Francis Cade at the lights, so I knew at least who would be a good rider to follow as he's been smashing it into the rest of the 2nds/3rds in the Surrey League, and is as good a crit racer as he is road, so that was one task made easier. The vo2 lads had a couple riding, there was one other wheeler - Track Beast John Coolahan who is an accomplished trackie and then the usual mix of people.

The race got underway and I saw Francis go straight from the gun (that was the last the bunch saw of him), I was planning to actually be a bit aggressive in this race instead of the bore fest that is sitting in waiting for a sprint as I was during the winter series, so about 2 laps in I put in a big effort and got clear, and a few others came with and before we knew it we were away from the bunch and it was all going well. There was probably about 5 of us, and I was happy to do turns, but did notice that each time we went up the home straight it was getting slower. I was really struggling to keep the pace when a Colbornes rider (Chris Spence) came through, he was a lot stronger than the rest of us by the looks of it and really made it hard work, but he was right to make it hard as we needed to stay away!

I think we were away for about 10-15 laps or so before we got caught, mainly down to fatigue I think, the wind was really taking it out of our small group on the bottom straight. John said that Francis had 4 others with him, and that it was touch and go, as the gap had not really come down on them, and we never really gained on them as a chasing bunch.

Had about 3 laps sitting in, and realized my fitness has come a long way, sitting in was EASY, but I needed a breather after the effort. So was mid pack recovering and another group went, John was in it this time, so I tried to move to the front to chase down any would be breaks, and felt I did a good job of this, it was like interval training!

Anyway, they did work well together, and I think they had 6 or so in total, and it was clear with 5 laps to go (from the 35 we did in total) we would not catch them, I was happy to just roll in, but then thought that I hadn't had a flat sprint for ages, and also mistakenly thought the points went to 15th place (they didn't, 10th was the last points placing) so I kept in position and drove hard on the last lap to stay in the right place, probably in the top ten coming round the last corner. I got boxed a tiny bit on the corner by someone who was going a bit slow after what was probably a big turn so after going round him, I found myself in a good position with nobody really in front but about 5 ahead of me on the left - they were taking the wind and my line was ok - a chap opened up and went quite hard, right from the early part of the straight, I went too (too early) and was about equal to him for what felt like ages, we quickly moved ahead of the rest, and I realized there was still another 50 meters to go, so got back in the saddle stuck it down to the 11 and tucked right over the bars in what must have looked like a descending position and just went and the extra gear and aero advantage of getting my frame out of the wind meant I went clear of this chap and won the bunch gallop by a bike probably.

Francis and co stayed away and he took 2nd, mega ride from him and the others in that group. John got 8th, and he said it was as hard as anything he's ever done on the track.Which I tended to agree with when I threw up in my mouth (banana soreen just before a race is a no no)!

So was a good workout, got to work on my fitness as there were times when I couldn't do my turn to the full speed it needed to be (could have done with the deep rims after all! 20 watts would have helped!), can easily stick the pace with some decent 2nds in the mix, and probably can score points at this level if I can stay in a break or it comes to a sprint as although I've not really worked on the sprint it still seems to be decent enough.

Want to get back to Hillingdon this Tuesday then again next Saturday in the absence of any local road races, good training too, then a weeks sunning in Turkey followed by a packed July full of 2/3 road races!

Race was 34mi, avg 25.5 mph (felt faster, but the wind killed it a bit)