Monday, April 26, 2010

Round 3

Rudy Project 3 is done and dusted, complete with ash from Eyjafjallajokull. Fortunately, that didn't hinder me from getting to and from Cumbria in a trusty hire car for the trifling sum of about £210. Petrol was quite a large chunk of that. Don't ask me how many times I stalled the car - haven't driven a manual for ages.

So 610miles (that's nearly 1000km in the new money) to race 31 miles/50km and finish third again. Pix here. Was it worth it? Financially, not even close although I did win £35. But for other reasons, it was.

Firstly, Cumbria itself. The landscape changes quite suddenly once you get into the Lakes District. The flatlands give way to massive hills with very little in the way of trees. There's still snow on some of the peaks too. And in the valleys, there are lakes. Hence the name.

>10 years ago I went to Lake Windermere with my aunt, although I don't remember a lot of the details. I suspect it was wet. This time it was dry, as it has been for an incredible three weeks. Until the day of the race of course, then it rained.

I stayed in Cockermouth, which is closeish to the sea and sits at the confluence of the Derwent and Cocker rivers, according to the Rough Guide to the Lake District. It was quiet, but it wasn't until I wandered into town in search of a bite to eat that I realised why. It had been hit quite badly by floods late last year, and the whole town was basically buggered. I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often, as it's flat, situated at the edge of the hills and there are two rivers flowing through it.

Anyway, the main street was still shut. Every single building was closed and was undergoing major refurbishment. It's meant to reopen soon, but it doesn't look like it to me. Fortunately I found a friendly and non-flooded pub up the hill, and had a decent meal there.

The race

It was two laps of Lake Bassenthwaite. The first was slightly shorter than the second (24.6km to 25.5km) because the start and finish were in different places on the circuit. We rode two laps, everyone else did one.

Half of the circuit is flat and pretty fast, as it goes along the A66. The other half is on a B road and it's lumpy and bumpy as hell. But fun. We had a tailwind for that bit and a headwind for the flat bit. The headwind was still the fastest section though!

I was a bit worried about the rain before the start but it wasn't too bad. There was just one section on the first lap where I got hit by a squall and couldn't see much through my visor. A tip: don't try to wipe off water off your visor using greasy fingers.

Apart from that, it was fun. And I did a decent time of 1:08:10, which was 'only' 3'07 behind Hutch and 1'20 behind Bottrill. Remember Hutch put 6'20 into me in the national 25 last year and Bottrill 4'43, so relative to then I have improved, especially as yesterday's event was 31 miles.

I also increased the gap to Colin Robertson, who beat me by 13sec in the first round, then I beat in round two by 17sec. Yesterday it was 57 sec. That means I'm a clear second in the series: Bottrill has 178 points, me 174, Robertson 172. Essentially zero chance of catching Bottrill though.

A surprisingly small part of that improvement has been in my fitness, although I have made some gains in that area. The rest has been in equipment and position. I've now got quite a good idea of how much all the little bits are worth, and how much more I need to challenge Bottrill. I've got some secret weapons up my sleeve, to be tested in the next couple of weeks...

I noted a slight anomaly in my power data though. Although I did the second lap slightly quicker than the first (44.2km/h instead of 44.1), my power was a good 15W lower. I thought it might have been traffic on the final flat section, as I got none on the first lap but a few cars on lap 2. But it wasn't - in fact, the biggest difference was on the lumpy bumpy section. Lap 1: 10.634km in 14'35 @ 324W/332NP. Lap 2: 14'33 @ 306/316NP. So faster, for a lot less power, and there was essentially no traffic.

Maybe the bumps messed things up or maybe I just rode the second lap more efficiently because I knew what was coming up. Or maybe my disk loses power when it warms up. Or maybe - and probably most likely - I had a big tailwind on that lumpy section which dropped when I hit the final bit. And it was a big headwind at the end of the first lap.

I was also guilty of relaxing a bit too much on the second lap, which sounds strange but it's true. I will try harder next time.

Other tidbits

I gave a talk on TTing last week at the club. Despite it lasting for 45mins, half the audience were still awake at the finish. That's too many. I must try harder to be more soporific next time.

Ma and pa take note. ITV have done another series of Foyle's War. Which I'm sure will be heading to Oz at some stage. Liz can't quite understand why I like it.

On the volcano snuffing out the airline industry, it's yet another example of bleedin' elfin safety bringin' the country to its knees. I thought it was pretty cool. Also, if the airlines didn't make any money last week, then presumably someone else did. Some Johnny Foreigner no doubt, but we live in a global European economy innit. So it must all cancel out and we get cheaper bananas or something.

I'll stop there before I go all BNP. And yes, there is an election on here in a few weeks. By an amazing stroke of luck, I remembered to register to vote. So I will probably express my democratic right and vote for no-one who can make a difference.

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