Monday, September 08, 2008


The most surprising thing about the British time trial championships in Gloucester was that I didn't drown. In fact, the roads were mostly dry despite it raining for three solid days beforehand.

The second most surprising thing was that I won a silver medal in the Masters B (35-39) category.

I'm very happy with this result. I was 57 seconds behind the winner, Ben Instone, so there was no "what if" there. He's about 2 foot taller than me, as evidenced by the photo below, and tends to do well at national level. Also, Ben Anstie finished third in Masters A (30-34) with a decent time of 31'43 - would have been second without that time penalty for cutting one of the bends (the commissaires were pretty tough). So Chippenham done good again.

Ben Instone tries to fit into his jersey
© Marcus Anstie

There were around 270 entrants and maybe two thirds of those actually rode, so I did a calculation across all categories to see where I'd have finished, taking into account the fact that the elite men did an extra lap. Had it been an all-in event, I would have been ~23rd, which coincidentally was about where I finished in the all-in national hill climb championships last year. At least I'm consistent.

Unfortunately, the course had to be shortened from 15.3km/lap to 11.4km/lap, with another 400m tacked onto the end where you turned right at the last roundabout instead of left. We had two laps, for a total of 23.1km, while the elite men had three laps for 34.5km. The weather was autumnal: 15 degrees, a little rain before the start, and a WNW wind was blowing.

I'd travelled up with Robin, who was off an hour before me. Despite the fact that we had recced the course a few weeks ago, he forgot one crucial detail: where the finish was. An unforgivable schoolboy error, as he said to me afterwards. He had a good ride and by his split time and how close he was behind his minute man, he was on track for a sub 33 minute time - good enough for top five in Masters A.

But when he hit the final roundabout, he thought he'd finished and just stopped. There were people there with clipboards, after all.

Alas, the finish was another 500m down on the A417 to the right. He eventually asked someone and was informed of this salient point. His final time of 35'21 did not exactly do his ride justice, and he was the slowest finisher in his category. I've been caught out by this a few times, but it's up to the individual to know the course.

I rolled out at a fairly steady pace, determined not to go too hard before the first climb after 2km. I took the S-bend at the start very slowly, as it was still wet. And I stayed on the left, where the road surface was crap. But some went on the right and either got pinged 10-20sec or disqualified. Yes it's their fault but it's a pity we can't race national championships on closed roads, like in last year's national hill climb.

The first little climb came right after a sharp kink in the road, so it was hard to carry a lot of momentum going into it. I opened up the throttle and by the top found myself on the wrong side of the red zone. Oops - I would pay for that on the second lap. But pretty much everyone did this, so I didn't feel too bad.

There was no descent after the hill and it was a cross-headwind so there was no recovery possible. Then we turned sharp left onto a flattish road, directly into a headwind. Ow. I passed my 17 minute man, who was on his second lap, and was bearing down on my 16 minute man, who I couldn't quite catch. He ended up winning the Masters D category with a time that was just 3 seconds slower than mine. That meant his second lap was much more even than mine.

The tailwind section along the A417 was fun. There was another small climb in it that was just long enough to kill your speed, but once over the top it was all downhill. I averaged 49km/h for that leg, completing my first lap in 15'23 at a respectable average of 44.5km/h.

Problem was, my heart rate was not coming down, even when I backed off quite a bit at the start of lap 2. Payback time. You can't avoid it. I guess I'd hoped I'd be able to average 350W for half an hour, but it was not to be today. Although I did take the corners on the second lap faster than the first, I lost quite a bit on the hill and had to change into the 53x21 just to keep things turning over. Here is a photo that illustrates that point. I did the first leg of lap 2 a massive 40W down on lap 1, losing 12 seconds to, er, myself in the process.

The next 2.5km leg into the headwind was a similar story. Again, 40W down on lap 1 and 5 seconds slower (I picked up a bit on the corners). So for the first two legs where I really needed to keep the power down, losing 40W "cost" me 17 seconds in just 6.5km. I guess had I paced it better, I could have saved myself 5-10 seconds over the two laps compared to what I actually did.

The last leg to the roundabout was 4.6km but I managed to dig deeper for the finishing effort, and was only 10W and 5 seconds down compared to lap 1. I did remember to turn right at the roundabout and hammered it to the finish.

I stopped the clock in 31'45, quickly checked my average power and saw 337W. OK but not brilliant, for how hard the effort was: I was hoping for closer to 350. Still, it got me a medal and I'm definitely not complaining! I've never won a national championship medal before.

Next stop, French France, where the weather is looking like it'll be crap for the journo world's TT on Friday. The course is the same distance as the BTTC, but it seems to be more technical and there's more climbing. There's a hill after 3km and one at the finish, so I'm thinking a winning time will be around 33'00, depending on conditions.

After last year's near miss, there's only one result that will satisfy me, although I know that anything can happen and anyone can turn up...


Pete said...

Well done, bro-in-law :-)
Good luck for the Journos!!

Neil Davies said...

Well done in in BTTC last weekend. As I read somewhere, Ben Instone didn't ride the longer seniors because his bike/position isn't UCI legal due to his size.
All the best for the Journo champs


Jeff Jones said...

Thanks guys! I followed on from last weekend by winning both the road race and the TT at the journo worlds, so I'm rather happy at this point.

I think the UCI rule that prevented Ben Instone from riding the elite race is about bar extensions not being longer than 75cm from the tip of the saddle. That's just stupid. Oh wait, it's the UCI...