Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pain revisited

A sequel to Brideshead, perhaps? Whatever, it must feature hill climbs. This is my softly-softly way of finishing off the season and I'll be glad when they're all over.

First, there was a much needed number of days off after the journo world's. After three days of hard racing/riding/drinking and getting, on average, about three hours sleep a night, I was completely wrecked. When I got back to the UK, I kept setting my alarm to do some morning training, but I slept through it each time. I dragged myself out on the first weekend back and still felt appalling. I did Burrington and Cheddar, the two main hill climbs at the end of the months, and was depressingly slow. It was to be expected and the time off was necessary.

Last week I started to come good but wasn't really flying for the Severn RC hill climb on Saturday. It was a short climb, less than 750m, averaging 8.2%. Anaerobia, here we come. During the week I'd managed it in 2'38, but couldn't see where I could find another 40 seconds to get within coo-ee of the win.

On the day, I did find another 30 seconds but it wasn't nearly good enough: I was only eighth in a field of 20. The in-form Rob Gough won in 1'53.5 and broke the course record, then last year's national hill climb champ James Dobbin was second in 2'00.3. My 2'08 was the result of the most painful effort I have done all year, excluding falling off on speed humps. I felt myself run out of legs halfway and was dizzy and seeing spots by the time I got to the top. That carried on for a good hour or two after the finish. Going that hard can't be good for you. Probably why kilo riders are all nuts.

Fortunately I recovered to get myself over to Bowden Hill that evening for a very loud, very fun and very late party organised by one of our writers group members. It's nice when you don't have to worry about neighbours. Lots of cyclists and runners there too, which was odd. I did three hours the next day to get rid of the hangover, before assuming the position on the couch for the rest of the arvo.

Coincidentally, Bowden Hill is where this weekend's Chippenham hill climb is. 1.8km at 6.5% with a nasty 10% bit in the middle. Last year James Dobbin won in 4'21. I did it in 6'20 today on the TT bike averaging 360W. I think I can do about 430-440W for that long which would give me a time somewhere around 5'10-5'20-ish-or-thereabouts. That's not enough to win, but I should manage better than eighth. The day after I'm riding a 3-up time trial with Ben Anstie and Chris Tweedie - a mighty Chippenham team indeed!

Tuesday gave me a New Hope. I took advantage of the excellent weather (rain followed by drizzle) to have a day off and go riding through the Mendips with mon colleague Robin. We did the Burrington / Cheddar loop, about 3.5 hours all up. I got up Burrington in 8'33 (need to do it in 7'10-ish-or-thereabouts to win in two weeks, but I think I'll end in something closer to 8'00) and the national hill climb course up Cheddar in 8'40. I don't know what the winning time there will be, but I'm hoping to sneak into the top 20.

I finished An Equal Music by Vikram Seth, and a jolly good read it was. Not exactly happy, but well written and very powerful. Seth does a superb job of describing music in words. It ain't easy to capture that.

I saw Day Watch (Dnevnoi Dozor) too. Good sequel to Night Watch, wot I seen last year, although I prefer the first one. I do like Anton. нет is my watchword.

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