Friday, May 30, 2008

The big wet

It's the monsoon season again, also known as 'summer' here in Bath. The rain has been less of the drizzly type and more of the downpour flash flood get paddling type.

I got caught in it on Thursday night on the way back from the Dursley evening 10 (it being too wet to do a Wednesday evening 10). It was nearly 50km home and after about 10km it totally thundered down. I was riding back with Chris Madge, who had the good fortune to live in Alveston so was able to turn off and go home. I, being silly and living in Bath, needed to go further via lots of puddles.

I got past Coalpit Heath with about 25km left and heard that spine chilling sound: 'pss...pss...pss...pss' coming from the back wheel. Not good, because I was riding the disk with a tubular on it. I made it to the bottom of Pucklechurch Hill as it was getting dark but could go no further.

I tried plan A, which was call Robin and get him to give me a lift to the station, but he was busy with a plumber. Plan B took me a while to figure out, but it should have been the obvious thing. Rip the tub off and put the spare on. Luckily, there wasn't too much glue on it and the water probably helped get it off. It was 9:30pm by the time I sorted it out and I was chilled to the bone. The last 20km along the bike path were pretty weird, as I was holding my front light in my hand (nowhere to put it on the bars), afraid of dropping it out of my numb fingers. I should have used my other front light, because it gets bloody dark along that path.

It was still pouring by the time I got home but fortunately not too cold. Still, I was happy to thaw out and wolf down a packet of gnocchi and various other comestibles.

I'd almost missed the start of the TT anyway because after I signed on I turned left instead of right to get to the start. I rode 4km down the road before I realised, then hotfooted it back with about 2min to spare. Oops.

My legs felt a bit pudgy after a very rubbish four days (45km total on account of the monsoons) and I couldn't get a lot of power out. 326W compared to 345W in the Chippenham 10 (22'18, PB for me) two weeks ago. I guess it was the quickest time (21'54) and not bad on a lumpy out and back course on the rough surfaced A38. No-one else went under 22 minutes. Chris also said he was about 20W down on normal, so maybe it was one of those nights.

Sunday should be a bit better for the Cheltenham 25. A bit of a nor'easter but at least there's no rain predicted. I dunno what time I'll do because my training's been a bit haphazard of late. And there are plenty of decent riders there - check their line 2 times - so I could finish anywhere between 2nd and 10th. Richard Prebble is down to start and I can't see anyone beating him. But you never know I suppose.

I have to beat my 40km time of 55'47, which I set on two occasions in Oz in 1990, back when you used to be able to turn around on the F4 at Emu Plains. On one of those days, I remember Martin Renwick did a 50'31 (he had a proper TT bike) and wondering how on earth I could get that fast. I now realise the bike+kit is worth about 3 minutes. The rest is in the legs, so I'll likely discover that I haven't improved at all in 20 years. I had a vague recollection that he did well at one of the British national championships around that time, so he was and is no slouch.

The national 10 mile champs were last weekend. Michael Hutchinson destroyed everyone to win. Even allowing for the fact that it was a fast course on a fast day with a fair bit of traffic, 18'07 for 16.1km is extremely brisk. Only Wiggins (17'58) and Boardman (17'54 in a club event) have gone quicker in the UK. That sort of effort would require a power output between 440-460W, and Hutch is only 5kg heavier than me. He is in a league of his own on the UK TT circuit at the moment and will probably win the national 25 in just over a week.

Next year I'll try to do more national championships, as I will have the qualifying times for them. But this year I do want to ride the British Cycling national TT champs (British Cycling and the Road Time Trials Council are different organisations), which are in September over a 29 mile course in Gloucestershire. I hope some of the pros turn up. That would be cool.

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