Saturday, September 08, 2007

Yeah, it's fast

I have possession of the Planet-X time trial machine, and what a bling piece of carbon kit it is. Carbon frame, forks, seatpost, cranks, wheels, bars, pedals and black chainrings to boot.

This is probably why they call it the Stealth Carbon Pro, pimp build.

Test 1: after a day of familiarising myself with it, I took it up to the Chippenham course on Wednesday and tested it over the usual 10 mile loop. End result: 23'17 - 3 seconds better than my quickest - and I was riding at 15 beats below my normal racing heart rate. Didn't even have the fast front wheel on, or any other aero kit.

Test 2: Robin and I drove all the bloody way to Welsh Wales, coffee capital of the world, to do an Open 10 between Resolven and Aberdulais. For those of you unfamiliar with Wales, these mighty metropoli are near Swansea. The course was a flattish (130m of climbing/descending) out and back along the A465. A good concrete dual carriageway with not too much traffic. The start was on an access road leading up to a roundabout, then you did a U-turn and hopped onto the A465 for 7.5km, before taking an exit, looping back over and heading back to the finish back the way you came.

We were doing this one because the race we wanted to do that was closer to home was full, and they hadn't got our entries in time. Hence the trek. There were around 60 starters with Robin going off as number 5 and me as 13.

It's the first time I've ever used a complete set of time trialling kit. Well almost, 'cos I didn't have a disk wheel :-) But I've now got a skinsuit, aero helmet and shoe covers so I'm nearly there with all the gear, and perhaps some idea.

We did a complete lap of the course as a warmup but we still both made a total mess of the first corner at the roundabout. I managed to eventually get round it by brute force. Then it was a matter of assuming the position and going hard. I haven't got the computer working yet but I was flicking between the 53x14, 13 and 12 (this bike also goes to 11) so I knew I was not hanging about. I worked out the splits later and confirmed this.

I caught my four minute boy on the way out, but didn't have much breath to yell encouragement at him. He was freewheeling a lot, but he finished OK. I took it easy over the overpass, grabbed a drink and prepared myself for the return leg, which had a bit of a headwind. There were a few energy sapping drags coming back and I got down to the 16 at one point, but others were suffering too. I caught my minute man, then my two minute man, then my three minute man, then my five minute man before the end.

Robin had done 21'55 which was pretty decent for a small guy on this sort of course. I ended up with 21'24, which I was very happy with. We retired to the HQ, had tea and cake and waited for the times to be written up. 20 riders in and we had the top two times, but then one guy split us with a 21'45. He had the most amazing bike, even more bling than mine. It was a fixed gear with the biggest front chainring I have ever seen and a small cog at the back, complete with 180mm cranks. Plus a trispoke on the front and a Zipp disk, all on a shiny TT frame. I can see why you'd ride a fixed on this course, but my knees went very weak at seeing the size of his gear.

As more times were posted, we began to slip down the pecking order. A junior did 21'21, three seconds better than me. Then the winner and his time were posted: Ceri Pritchard in 20'32. Ouch - that's 47km/h. I was still in third with the chance of a huge 10 quid cash prize and Robin in fifth with the chance of...nothing. But we had to wait until all the times were in before getting too excited about potential petrol money.

Two more riders bettered our times: David Povall with 21'04 and Colin Parry with 21'19. So I ended fifth and Robin seventh. Not bad at all, we thought. Even though it was a fair way to go for a short race, it was a buzz to ride so much faster than you would on a road bike. And we had a good few hours to chat, which is always nice.


0.8km: 1'20 (after the horrible first roundabout)
7.8km: 9'58 (the bike goes alright in a straight line)
9.1km: 12'00 (over the overpass)
16.1km: 21'24 (a light headwind)

Next week, we're doing a round of the Rudy Project TT series down in Bruton on a tough 30km course. This should be fun but I'm glad we rode over it last week. 400m of climbing and definitely not a good course for a fixed, or even a disk. Looking at the start list, which has some good riders on it who are going for the overall series (250 quid for first place), I think somewhere between 5th and 10th is manageable with between 44 and 45 minutes. We did it in 51'00 last week, not going too hard, on our road bikes. Richard Prebble has the course record in 42'27, and he'll be there next Saturday.

Then it's the Journo World's in Salzburg! The TT course (23km) looks quite hilly too, so the Bruton TT will be a good test. The road circuit is rather flat, and I suspect it'll be hard for me to win again, even though I'm in an older age category. I think I have a good chance in the TT though.

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