Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dursley

Another win! Results here and pics here.

I took it as a good sign that I didn't get food poisoning after a curry on Saturday night at the Eastern Eye. I'd warned the birthday party of this, as well as the fact that surliness was part of the service. We weren't disappointed on that front as the booking was for 14 and only seven of us turned up. I don't know how the others fared, but I didn't get the dodgy rice this time. Result!

Thus, my vital functions were more or less intact for the Dursley hardriders event on a chilly, misty Sunday morn. The course was shortened from 45 to 36km because of road works, which means we missed the first climb and descent, but it was still 800m of up/630m of down. Here's the modified course (click on show > elevation for the profile).

The HQ was an old scout hut that may have been used to house cattle at some point in the dark ages. Very rural, reminiscent of a few Belgian changing rooms, and cold. As Mike H, the organiser said, it was a proper HQ for a hardriders event. I was glad to get out of it and on the bike to warm up again, making full use of the embrocation I had obtained at minimal expense the previous day.

I was one of the last off and as I rolled up with 30 seconds to go, Mike explained to me why his estimate of the total climbing of the original course was out. I'd reckoned 1000m (using Bikely and Memory Map), he'd said 750m. But he'd used Mapmyride, which discounts climbs of <60m in calculating the total. Pretty shoddy if you ask me.

I'm glad we sorted that out and I set off with algorithms running through my head.

The first 3km were undulating uphill before we hit the first climb past Uley. It's always hard to hold back at the start of a TT because it takes about five minutes to properly settle. So if you've got a climb at the end of that period, you need to be extra careful or you'll die in the arse when the gradient hits 12%.

I was aware of this but maybe not to the point of being "extra careful". I'd caught both my one and two minute men before the top and was sucking in lungfuls of misty air to try to keep the oxygen debt at a manageable level. It's all about the credit crunch.

The bonus of riding at 360W is that you put out about 1600W of heat. That was rather more than the small fan heater back at the Scout Hut. The other bonus was that at the summit I got some cheers from our club president Mike Edwards and his wife Sheila, which is always appreciated.

The descent to Frocester followed almost immediately. It averages 9% so I took it steadily on the twisty wet roads, winding it up when I got a free run at the bottom. It was just a few km to the roundabout, then we had to turn around and come back up the bloody hill. Again, it was one where you got no descent leading in, it just gradually steepened until you were properly on it. I passed a couple more riders and could see my three minute man just ahead at the top.

The next bit was quite nice, an undulating road down to Stroud, with another 2km descent (with two cattle grids) at the end. There was another roundabout at the bottom and we had to return the way we came. I was unlucky to be passed by two cars right at the top of the descent and I couldn't get past them on the way down so I did most of it under brakes. It was worth 10-15 seconds, and I hoped this wasn't going to come down to the wire.

I probably made up a bit of that after I did the roundabout at the bottom and hit the climb quite hard. According to my stats I averaged 390W for the climb, no doubt wasting a lot of heat. It was a relief to get to the top, and even though the last 10km were gradually uphill, I appreciated being able to stay on the go-fast aero bars.

With 5km to go, I saw Mike and Sheila again and they were quite excited. I think Mike even jumped, although that could have been me hallucinating. Nevertheless, I took it as a sign that I was doing well, as he would have been keeping track of everyone. I went as hard as I could to the finish and was glad to get there, although I could have handled another climb OK.

I collected my jacket from the time keeper and he seemed to think I'd done the winning time too: 1:02:57. Always a good sign, but you're never sure until you see all the times written on the results board.

Rode back down to the scout hut with an Italian by the name of Flavio from Oxford Uni CC, who said he was a pro 25 years ago and had started riding again to lose weight and get fit. He was my three minute man who I'd caught after halfway and he ended up with a "long" 1:08 (which means just under 1:09). He'd ridden up from Oxford in the morning - somewhat further than me - and was delighted with the whole event. I think he'll improve a bit more.

I wondered how Gavin P had got on and it turned out he hadn't. He had the misfortune to puncture his front wheel after the top of the last climb. You can't really ride on a flat front tubular for 10km so he had to get a lift back. It's a pity that he didn't end up with a time because I'll never know if I beat him fair and square or not. A few seemed to think I'd done a good enough ride anyway, but ... Given that's his second flat of the year (the first was just after he'd crossed the line in the Severn hilly), I suspect he'll try something more robust than Vittoria Chronos.

I refuelled with a bit of ginger cake and some tea and waited for all the times to be confirmed. That's the most nerve wracking bit of a time trial, trust me. The tension builds as more times are written on the results board, with everyone standing around speculating about who's done what. You don't want to look but you do anyway and you get little pangs when a faster time than yours is posted.

Finally it was confirmed and I got the win by 46 seconds over Mark Wareham - who rode a standard road bike(!) - and 2'09 over Derek Smetham from the local club. Chris Madge (1:05:13) and my clubmate Ben Anstie (1:06:22, after doing a 10 miler the previous afternoon) slotted in next, while our sprinter Simon Snowden recorded a painful 1:18 for 22nd, but it was more than enough for us to claim the team prize from Gloucester. That's number four this year!

The ride home was interesting when I discovered I'd lost a chainring bolt. Not only that, all the other four bolts were loose. Oops. That explains the creaking noise I've had for the last few weeks...

Made it home but had to pay another stealth visit to Morrison's to restock on Lily O'Brien's sticky toffee chocolate. Some bugger had eaten it all in my absence.

No song today but Hung Up by Madonna is a good 'un for time trialling. Saw the last episode of Foyles War too. I hope there are more.


unstoppable said...

Jeff, you might want to look at the results for the King of the Mountains prize in the Giro d'Italia, 1984. It's the same Flavio Zappi as the one that finished 18th in MSR the same year... So it is possible he will improve!

Jeff Jones said...

You're right: he was second behind Fignon in the KoM and 12th in Milan-SanRemo that year. No wonder he enjoyed the hills. There's a bit of potential there...

Nice bloke too.

Photo here.