Monday, May 24, 2010

It's hotting up

We've had a rather sudden rise in temperatures in the last week. It went from a max of 8 with a biting NE wind to 27 in the space of about 10 days. Quelle shock to the system.

I've decided that I like it between 16 and 20 degs. It's not hot but I can still get away with wearing shorts and a short sleeve jersey. It looks like returning to that level this week, as it was for most of last week.

I've started training more in the evenings 'cos it's light until 9 and it's nice to get out after work and hammer. Thus, last Monday I managed to take another 45sec off (now 58'58) and add 5W to my PB for my 39km training circuit. It was done with an unhelpful NW wind too, which really surprised me. That's a full 2min quicker than I ever did last year.

Then on Wednesday I went out and did some shorter intervals. I flew up Kingsdown in 6'28 @ 390W - best ever time - then managed two 4'40 efforts up the other side, also at 390W. And I threw in another one for good measure at 333W, which felt quite comfortable.

Fast forward to Saturday's Bristol South 10 on the U7B (aka The Graveyard), and I thought I'd have a decent chance at the course record of 20'44. Last year, not particularly fit, I managed 20'50 on a warmish day, SW wind, with lots of traffic 'cos the M5 was shut.

This time around it was warmer, the wind was from the east, which meant we had a headwind on the longer outward leg and a tailwind for the slightly uphill return leg. And although I rode my fast front wheel + the visor + I should have been fitter, I was only 2sec quicker than last year. 20'48, argh!

It was a decent time, more than enough to win. Rob Pears, no slouch at 10s, was 40sec back, then Robin Coomber and David Kiddell tied for third at 1'17.

Going out I could feel it was going to be too slow. 11'19 to the turnaround (8.4km) was not good enough. Last year I did it in 10'25, but the wind was in the opposite direction.

I had also gone a bit hard on the way out so tried to nurse myself over the hills on the way back. There are four rollers in succession and I knew I couldn't afford to lose much speed on these because there wasn't enough downhill to make up the time. So on each one I went hard then recovered slightly on the descent, then went hard again, repeat until out of breath.

I surprised myself by completing the last 7.7km in 9'29 (last year it was 10'25, headwind but plenty of traffic). An average of 48.6km/h, which is not bad for a slightly uphill return. But it wasn't quite enough to break the course record.

Disappointingly, I really felt the heat and my power suffered as a result. 322W average, whereas I know I'm capable of at least 345W at the moment. But my heart rate was through the roof, so I know I gave it everything.

Everyone else was in the same boat of course. Rob really suffered in his black skinsuit! Also at the National 10 the next day, plenty of people reported being 10% down on watts because of the temperature. The only good thing about the heat is that it lowers the air density. But in this case, not quite enough to offset the drop in power.

Sarah Storey had a good idea: wear an ice vest. It's your core temperature that's important to keep low so ideally you should sit somewhere cool until you're ready to warm up.

In my case, riding 45km to the start with a backpack on probably wasn't ideal.

Oh well, maybe I'll have another go at it later in the year. For now it's back to training until the National 25 in a couple of weeks, then a 100, then the National 50.

If I can keep Hutch to around about 3min in the National 25, I'll be happy. Easier said than done. He put 43sec into Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy in the National 10 yesterday. Based on recent form I wonder how I might have gone, but I did want to keep a month free of 'big' races in order not to knacker myself mentally.

We shall see.

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