Monday, August 16, 2010

Going for broke

I hate starting with a definition (oh good, I just avoided it). But going for broke means "To commit or expend all of one's available resources toward achievement of a goal"

To wit, going for a fast time in the WTTA 100 yesterday. I did manage to expend all of my available resources (well, most of them) but despite winning the event, failed to achieve this goal by a long way.

In fact, I would have happily traded the win for a time < 3:42:50, but it was not to be. Why? Because that would have improved my Best All Rounder (BAR) average, which is the average of your best 50, 100 and 12 hour average speeds. An average average, if you like.

The BAR is a strange competition because the main contenders don't necessarily meet each other in the same races. You can take your pick of a number of 50, 100 and 12 hour races, roll the weather dice and hope that you'll do your fastest times. Or you can enter all of them, look at the weather, and take your pick. This is what most serious BAR riders do.

Now, I've already done a 50, 100 and 12, but thought that I could perhaps improve on my 100 and 50 averages. So far no luck. I've just got one more card to play and that'll be it. Depending on how that goes and what the others do, I could end up anywhere between 3rd and 10th in the competition.

But I digress.

I did the WTTA 100 last year and finished second with 3:41:22. This year my best has been 3:42:50 in the BDCA 100. I figured that I could improve on that, being fitter and all, but with the benefit of hindsight I realise that last year the conditions were pretty damn good. There was a west wind which you were mostly sheltered from going up the long drag to the top of the course, but which did help you back down the other way. And it was warm and sunny.

On Sunday, by contrast, we had a nagging noreasterly which absolutely killed your speed on the uphill leg, the sun didn't even dare come out so it didn't get above 15 degrees.

It was slightly annoying because I averaged 12W more than last year (and 10W more than the BDCA 100) and was 7'20 slower! I also paced it extremely badly, but I had a deliberate plan to go for a fast time, which meant I had to stay on target early on. When I looked down at my average power after two laps, I realised that although I was already 2min down on last year's pace, it had cost me 26W more. I was almost riding at 50mile pace, which is not what you want to do when the race is twice that length.

Needless to say things went a little pear shaped after that. I dropped 25W to ride lap 3 at the same power as lap 3 last year (but 2min slower), and lap 4 was 5W lower than the same lap last year, where I also blew up, but 3'40 slower! That's a shocking price to pay for a relatively small power loss. At that speed it should be no more than 20-30sec.

All up that meant the last lap was 65W(!) down on the first two laps but unlike last year I lost even more time because of the long slow uphill section and because it just didn't warm up. Last year the conditions really helped get me home.

I was lucky to get away with the win on Sunday. James Wall, who beat me last year, punctured after about half way and had to stop. I was maybe a minute down on him then (it was hard to tell) but given what happened later he would have comfortably beaten me.

But I wasn't the only one who suffered. Most riders either didn't start, didn't finish, or went 10-15min slower than last year. Neil Davies, who gave me a lift up, was one of these: 4:55 compared to 4:41. But his son Luke managed a 4:43 in his first ever 100 to take the juvenile prize. Bloody good going on a rough day. Chippenham also took the team prize with me, Steve Ayres (4:22:06) and Gordon Scott (4:23:47). Yay team!

I'll chalk it up to experience but I was quite pleased at what I was knocking out for the first two hours, at a seemingly comfortable pace. That average power last year got me a 1:44:05 for 50 miles on the same roads. Yesterday it was more like 1:52, which goes to show how much a difference conditions can make. Also, had I ridden a well-paced race, I could have gotten my time down to 3:45 or so, but that wouldn't have been good enough.

Next up: The British champs in September. I'll not be troubling Wiggo and co but it'll be interesting to see how close I can get to the top pros in 52km.

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