Monday, October 06, 2008

Victory (again)

I did it. At the behest of my sister, I invested in a cheap cafetiere and some better-than-industrial-grade coffee. Thus, I could skip the canteen queue for a cup of Costa blandness this morning and try it out.

I may have slightly overestimated the amount of coffee required for the cafetiere's one litre capacity. Because despite then filling it up to the top with hot water, I ended up with just two cups of java. Each one a wee bit stronger than your average three-shot grande Americano, and a hell of a lot tastier.

Both MCole and I perked up after downing our cups (with the aid of spoons).

I will need to repeat this experiment. As a sort of non-blind control, I got a Costa Americano at lunchtime to compare, and it actually tasted blander than I remembered. Of course, my taste buds might have been completely obliterated by the morning brew.

Rain, would you believe it?

After a nice two week spell, the weather has again taken a turn for the worse. It's not only getting cold, it's also been very wet in the past few days.

So I don't quite know what possessed me to get up at 5:30am on Sunday, ride out to the M4 in the dark and the rain to meet Mr Snowden, drive to Gloucester and race a hilly 25 mile time trial. Still in the rain. It was round 11 of the Hardriders series but I've already won that so I didn't even have to ride this one. And looking at the weather forecast for the weekend, I'd more or less talked myself out of it, plus it's the end of the season, I'm feeling slower, pathetic excuse, whinge, blah, etcetera.

I suppose the lure of being able to ride my bike fast was irresistible. Also, when I saw the course in August I really wanted to ride it. It's out and back along smooth roads with a number of undulations. The course record of 55'47 was set by Rob Wood in this event last year, so I suppose that was my target. Unfortunately, the wind was against us on the longer, uphill leg on the way out, which when combined with the constant rain made it too big of an ask for me on the day.

I warmed up by sitting in the Maisemore village hall until about 15 minutes to go, then jumping on the bike just to get the legs going. The lass who started in front of me (it was her first 25 miler) followed this strategy but it didn't quite work out for her as she punctured at the turn and had to get a lift back. She seemed remarkably chipper about it despite having driven over from Oxford to do it. Everyone who does this sport is mad.

Once I got going, the rain didn't bother me so much, because the course isn't that technical, and when you're putting out 330 Watts through the drivetrain, you're also putting out another 1200W of heat, which was just enough to combat the wind and rain chill. The wind was a bit problematic. I needed to get off the bar extensions whenever the road curved around 90 degrees to avoid being blown around by the crosswind. There was also a ploughing competition on a field next to the road, which meant a lot of mud on that section.

I overestimated the severity of the course going out - not always a bad thing - and ended up with too much left in the tank for the shorter, downhill return leg. Thus I clocked 32'30 for the 21.5km out and 24'00 for the 18.8km return. Put those numbers together for a total of 56'30, which wasn't bad for the conditions and easily good enough to win. I have no idea of my power because I was using a different wheel.

Only two others got under the hour: Dean Robson in 58'23, then Dave Kiddell (who has beaten me a couple of times this year) in 58'53. Simon finished 5th in 1:01:28 and Phil Gwynne 19th in 1:09:29 to give us the team prize (yay!). Phil said afterwards he nearly gave up until he realised that he was our third rider and had better put his head down in order to win the princely sum of seven quid.

Some really suffered in the cold though. Severn RC's Paul Chapman was shaking all over when I saw him getting changed in the HQ. He'd done just under 1:10 so was out there a lot longer than I was, and wouldn't have been putting out nearly as much heat. And he didn't have a long sleeved base layer on. Owwww. His teammate Matt Burbridge, who I caught right near the end, was also a shivering wreck in the HQ, and plenty of others had blue lips. Toasted and buttered tea cake helped.

I think I survived a bit better than most because I've put on a kilo in the last few weeks (courtesy of tea cakes, beer and chocolate), plus I was wearing my long sleeved woollen base layer, which is absolutely brilliant in the wet, and I had a nice dry set of clothing when I got back to the hall. That doesn't completely absolve me of nutterdom, but at least I know how to minimise the discomfort.

Three more races, then that's it for the season. Two of those are hill climbs, which I have very little chance of winning, and one is the 3-up, which looks like it will be very close between Chippenham and VC St Raphael. They have the better riders on paper, but we have home course advantage...

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