Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eerste zege

Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Season 2008 is go.

It's not quite as good as Thunderbirds, but it beats training.

The disc wheel I borrowed from Cycling Plus last week turned out to be a boon, as I won me first race by a mere two seconds. Over 37km, a disc is easily worth that compared to my 101mm rimmed wheel. Which leads me to the annoying conclusion that I should have borrowed the wheel for last year's journo world's. Anyway...

I had an easy 40km ride out there, and a rather slower 40km ride home. On the way out I was passed by another Bath-based rider who was in a hurry 'cos his start time was half an hour before mine. He made it with time to spare but I can't help thinking he might have burned a few matches on the way out.

Despite dire weather warnings, the conditions were reasonable, if a tad windy on the return leg. It was the same course as the 3-up that we did last year, so I'd worked out a schedule that would give me a time of 55 minutes (we did 56'30 in the 3-up). I figured I could make up lots of time on the hills but would lose a bit on the flats as there was no-one to give me a break. Turns out I was pretty close in my estimation with a final time of 55'22.

I honestly didn't think it'd be good enough to win. I thought somewhere in the region of 53-54 minutes would do it. Anyway, it was and I'm not complaining.

The start was nearly all tailwind, with a couple of little bumps before the first hill after 10km. I'd already passed three riders by the time I reached that, which was nice, and was a little bit up on my schedule. I gave it a bit more gas on the hill and at the top was already 2 minutes quicker than the same point in the 3-up (although we'd had the headwind first then). A steady descent with the tailwind followed and I reached 19km in 26'45 - now a handy 2'30 ahead of the 3-up time and a minute ahead of my own schedule, which allowed for the tailwind start.

At this point I started getting delusions of a sub-54 minute time, but these were mercilessly ground up in the headwind on the way back. I lost all of the advantage on the return on the A4, really struggling to maintain concentration and dropping a little bit of power. So by the time I reached the bottom of the last 2km climb, I was back on level pegging with the 3-up time, and now about half a minute behind my own schedule. I gave it whatever I had left up to the finish, which was just over the top, and it was all over.

The power meter said I'd averaged 304W for the ride, which didn't instil me with confidence as it was a) lower than I did the previous Tuesday in training and a lot lower than I'm capable of when it's properly warm and I've got a few miles under my belt. I think 350-360W is achievable for that distance (not yet though), and that would knock a couple of minutes off the time I did.

But it doesn't matter what your wattage is if you win :-)

I did feel a bit sorry for the second placed guy, as I know what it's like to lose by a handful of seconds. Still, what goes around comes around in time trialling, and I'm sure I'll be in that position again.

It was especially nice to win because Chippenham was promoting the event and as far as I can see, they haven't had a home winner since at least 1992. I did note that a "J Jones" won it in 1993. We also won the team prize (sum of three fastest riders per club) with Simon Snowden and young Tom Marshall. Result!

Got another race this Saturday, which will be on the same course as the Rudy Project round I did last year, down in Bruton. Just under 30km and 400m of climbing. I think I'm going to be hard pressed to beat last year's time of 44'17 because that was done under warm, windless conditions. On Saturday they're predicting heavy rain, a moderate southerly wind and a max of 8°RĂ©. Blurgh.

It's a stupid time of year to be racing and by far the earliest I've started doing so in the northern hemisphere. I should be watching Thunderbirds and drinking from my rapidly diminishing stock of trappists.

Dammit, I was going to write something more interesting about my misspent youth but instead ended up with the above. There is a reason I call it a bilgespot.


I did the Gillingham race today in the wet and it lived up to expectations. I was nowhere near last year's time, finishing with 46'09 for third behind Mr Poupart, who did a very impressive 44'09. I was never going to get close to that, even on a good day. But I was 10 seconds off second place, which was slightly annoying as I lost a bit of time by being careful and waiting for a car at one of the junctions. But I stayed on the bike, which was more important.

I also took the descent at 8km to go fairly steadily, losing around 10 seconds to the guy who I was on the verge of catching at the top. It had a couple of muddy bends that I wasn't confident taking at speed, especially as one of the bits of tape I'd put over the valve holes on my disc was flapping, which was unnerving. I still hit 68km/h but the guy in front of me - who I never quite caught - knew the course and had better handling and confidence, which is what makes for good descending.

Because it was a headwind start, I was already two minutes down on last year's time by the halfway mark, and yet had the same average power. But I lost a little more on the last long drag, despite it being a tail/crosswind, and only made up 15 seconds from the top of the last hill to the finish. So nearly two minutes slower than last year. Oh well.

I'm probably doing the Castle Combe Good Friday race this week, then off to Nice for a holiday (woo hoo!) before coming back for another 30km TT at the end of the month. Jeez I hope the weather is less crap by then.


Anonymous said...

a well deserved win - was your av speed > 40km/hr? How far from Bath to the start?

Jeff Jones said...

Ta, it was close. 40km there and back, a nice warmup/cool down.

I averaged 39.5km/h, which is not quick by normal time trialling standards, but on a hilly course it ain't bad. In previous years, others have averaged over 40 on that course. I'll see what I can do in April, when there's another event on it...