Righto, time for a wee update. This will not be news to Facebook friends although it might be to Google+ friends/acquaintances/family/other.
Following the national 50 I've done three weeks of very solid endurance work. It wasn't easy, especially the second week, but I came through alright. In fact, the planets aligned just after my 40th birthday and I managed a couple of power PBs in the same week. Nice.
The first one was at the Castle Combe 10 on Wednesday, where I managed to knock a substantial chunk of time off the course record to post 20'21 on a completely traffic-free circuit. That's a shade over 47km/h in the new money and I was pretty happy at being able to do that without being sucked along by a stream of traffic. As you can see from the lap splits (ignore the first, which was a bit under half a lap) I started a bit conservatively but got quicker as it went on. The main reason being was because I couldn't quite believe I could sustain the number that was showing on my power meter for the full 20 minutes, as I'd never done it in the past.
But it turned out that I could, in fact I could up it towards the end because I'd gone out comparatively steadily. An even split would have been better but there wouldn't have been much more than a second or two in it. I'll take a power PB any day: 20W up on last year's best, 13W up on this year's and 5W up on my all time best (set a few years ago in a club event), all using the same wheel.
Me @ Castle Combe
Fast forward to Sunday's North Middlesex and Herts CA 100 and I did it again, although not by as much. It was a similar course to the first part of the Icknield 12hr that I did last year - a few laps of the A1 followed by one and a half laps of a finishing circuit up the A421 then back along a B road. The wind was blowing about 20km/h from the SW and it made life tough coming back from the northernmost roundabout and really difficult going up the A421 towards the finish. More on that in a bit. Going the other way was fun though.
I was off last in a field of 54 (not all of whom started), which is always an advantage in an early morning event. I had a nice evenly paced ride, finishing in 3:39:43, which is 1'39 better than my PB. It was also good enough to win by 18'30 from Paul Gamlin and Dave Johnson. I did wonder how I'd go against Dean Lubin, who'd done a 3:40:09 recently and who was off 4min ahead of me. I clocked him at 1/3 distance and had taken 1'30 out of him, but he stopped a bit further on as he probably knew it wasn't going to be any quicker than 3:40.
Power-wise, it was a good ride. In contrast to previous 100s, I managed to negative split by a few watts in the second half compared to the first. That's also reflected in the time splits: 1:50:12 to halfway, 1:49:31 for the second half.
Me @ the NH&HCA 100
© Dave Jones
The finishing circuit was rather cruel but I knew what to expect having driven over it the day before. The first part was a 7km section on the A421, with two long uphill drags and a shorter downhill bit in the middle. All into the teeth of the wind. At least the road surface was good. You then turned off onto a rough B road and went back 7km with the wind behind you. Only to repeat the headwind section and finish after only 1.5km of tailwind. This had a negative affect on the average speed.
Before I hit the finishing circuit, my average was 44.5km/h, ie good enough for a short 3:37. But the extra headwind turned that into a long 3:39 - and I did the finishing circuit at +10W above the rest of the ride!
It could have been worse: had I done my usual trick of dying with an hour to go I would have lost buckets of time. Many riders did, and that became quite apparent on the headwind sections. There was some real suffering going on.
After I finished, the organiser Gordon Hart pulled up beside me in his car as I was riding back to the HQ. He said I was first to finish, which was good as I hadn't spotted Dean Lubin for a while and thought he might have taken time out of me. But what Gordon meant is that I was actually the first rider home despite being the last to start. I'd caught the entire field. I am still quite chuffed with that!
Results and more pics here