Monday, September 01, 2008


So ja, I am being the Hardrider champion of the WTTA. Das ist season goal nummer eins ticked off the season goal list.

There are two more events to ride in October - which I want to do - but I have six wins now so no-one can overhaul me. Plus we've wrapped up the team trophy with Ben (who looks like being 4th overall) and Simon (top 10) combining to give us a big total. This is a first for Chippenham: the Hardrider series has been going since 1991 and no Chippenham rider has won the individual overall or the teams, only the women's and the juniors' titles.

Sunday's Swindon-promoted fixture was on the U89 course. Unfortunately, it's not one of the nicer courses: three right hand turns and a couple of dodgy left handers where visibility weren't great. Plus it started raining just after we started, which made the back roads lethally slippery and greasy with mud. It was the same for everyone, but it really turned it into an anti-fun course and I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed it.

In the dry, you don't even have to step off the gas on many of the bends, but in the wet it's another story. My power file afterwards showed 19 different occasions where I had to stop pedaling and accelerate again. There were one or two crashes, which didn't surprise me. It's a pity because early on it was looking like a perfect day: some light mist and not a breath of wind, with the rain due later.

Still, the result was excellent and I was more than happy with my average power of 333W given the non-pedalling time. I paced it well - probably the first time I've done this for a longer event - and even managed to put a decent amount of power out down Callow Hill, resulting in a max speed of 73km/h and making up for a campervan that slowed me down at the top. I got another Sunday driver in front of me at the bottom, who stayed there for 7km. He was just far enough ahead that there was no draft but I would start catching him on the corners and have to back off. That was the most frustrating section and it was doing my head in.

Once I turned onto the B road at 20.5km, went past the car boot sale and headed up Lyneham Banks, things improved. A straightforward bit at last, as Colonel Pewter would say. Uphills are easy, as are undulations - you just modulate your pedaling to the severity of the gradient.

The next dodgy bit was the left hander at the bottom of the descent from Goatacre. I was doing 70km/h down there without pedaling, then had to slam on the brakes and see if I could get round the corner on the inside line as there was gravel all over the middle bit. I failed, overshooting slightly but managing to go around the outside and avoid the gravel. There was a short sharp uphill straight afterwards, and I would have liked to have carried more than 20km/h into it...

After taking the next left hander towards Bushton, I spotted the unfortunate David Kiddell walking along the road after puncturing. Not surprising, as wet roads and sharp stones are lethal for tyres. The last right hander at Bushton was sketchy, although I managed it OK. At least one guy came off there, another ended up on the grass, and others had wheelspin. I'm thankful for my grippy tyres!

I passed my 12 minute man, Steve Barber, just before the last climb up Clyffe Pypard hill, a 1km @ 10% leg snapper that gets steeper as you get to the top. He had been dreading this hill ever since he found out it was part of the course. He even fitted a compact chainset to get up it!

I knew what to expect but wasn't prepared for how painful it would be at the end of a 50 minute effort. I got to halfway feeling OK, tried to recover a little on the all-too-brief flat spot, then nearly expired when it got properly steep. I could see Ben's dad and Gary Woodward on the bend about 150m from the top, and didn't think I'd make it to them without blowing up. I did - just - grinding the 39x23, then my efforts caught up with me and I had to ease off with about 100m to go. My power file showed a significant drop at this point, even though I was still climbing. Thankfully the finish was only another 250m over the top, and the agony could end. Final time: 53'34 for 36.1km. As I said, the result belied my during-ride frustration.

Hill climber extraordinaire Rob Gough, who'd started 2min behind me, finished in 57'14 and I realised I hadn't done that badly. Last man off Ben, who had done a brilliant 19'35 for a 10 the previous evening on the U47, clocked 54'17...and he said he'd had a good ride.

My colleague Robin, who had the misfortune to be Ben's minute man and was caught by him in the first third, finished in 56'22, which turned out to be the third quickest time. Derek Smetham was fourth in 56'35, then Rob Gough rounded out the top five. Our third man Simon, who'd done 20'52 in the 10 the previous evening, finished just inside the hour and we won the team prize by a rather large margin.

So I can't complain about The Form, I just want a dry day to really test it. Next weekend is the British champs, which could be interesting...

Books 'n stuff

I'm reading several books at the mo', as is my custom. I'm still on Alan Bennett's Writing Home, but only because I've put it aside for other literary works.

My uncle Alec has penned another novel called Morris in Iceland, which is just as interesting and amusing as his first one, but requires slightly less pre-reading. It's got William Morris, Björk and Inner West Creative Mime Atelier, pronounced 'Yewkma', in it, as well as the easily identifiable stars (for me at least) from Helen Garner and the Meaning of Everything. The Les Darcy Oval features prominently, and that can only be a good thing.

Keeping with the Family theme, my first cousin twice removed John gave me one of his books when we were in Oxford, called Athwart the Storm. He has led an amazing life and describes it through poems and prose. He's a good writer and thinker and I'm really enjoying the book.

I also picked up Heroes, Villains and Velodromes, by Richard Moore. It details the rise of Chris Hoy and the British track team and I'm lovin' it, McDonald's finger lickin' good style. The Brits were basically nowhere 10 years ago, but once they got an injection of lottery cash and a new performance director (Peter Keen), they went places. Keen was the one who got it all started, and had to step on a lot of toes to get away from the old amateurish British cycling federation way of doing things. The results were pretty plain to see at this year's Olympics.

I haven't finished it yet, but the chapter called "Mind Games" where Richard Moore interviews the team psychiatrist Steve Peters, is very interesting. Peters is good, having spent his career rehabilitating psychopaths, and has been instrumental in turning a few of the athletes on the squad into champions. Victoria Pendleton for one.

To do well, you have to use logical rather than emotional thought processes, otherwise you end up making bad decisions that will slow you down. I'm good at this and it marries well with time trialling and some track events (but perhaps not with other things), where it's mostly about your own performance rather than anyone else's. You analyse things in fine detail and you gain a very good insight into how your body works, how it responds to training and what you can expect from it on a given day. A lot of things click into place as a result.

The flip side to having The Knowledge is that the highs and lows are smoothed out. Both wins and losses can be explained logically, which takes away a bit of the fun as well as the disappointment. Still, I like to know what's going on and it's nicer to win when you know you've done the right training rather than lose because you've done it wrong and don't know why.

Other stuff

Keeping me sane during these times of Extreme Focus® have been DVDs of a humorous genre. To whit, Summer Heights High, which is painfully funny. Even better is Roy and HG's The Dream, which celebrates all that is good about Australia. The Smiggin Holes 2010 Winter Olympics bid, Dick Pound Tuesday, "Go You Good Thing Go" and many, many more highlights.

Roy Slaven, on David Campese's proposal to scrap most of the sports from the Olympics except for athletics and swimming ... but include rugby:

"You've got to look at David Campese and realise that, for a start, he's an idiot."

Finally, I was interested to read about the man-drought that exists in Australia. That's easily fixed: just come over to the UK, where it has been known to rain from time to time.


Hugh Jones said...

A minor John Linton is your grandmother Joan's first cousin, he is therefore your first cousin twice removed.this is the same relationship between me and H.B. Williams of artistic fame.

langles said...

Nice one Jonesey. Well done!

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