Monday, July 23, 2012

July update: the 48, ticked

I've been in summer hibernation mode since the nationals finished, with work getting very busy with the Tour de France, the Olympics and everything in between including training. Speaking of the Tour: Wiggins, Froome, Cav, Sky - six stage wins and the overall victory, just amazing! I've felt the atmosphere over here really lift as a result. It's even stopped raining too, which is rather surreal after the wettest three months ever.

Back to training, well I haven't really eased off the gas since I got sick in mid-May, with the possible exception of the national 50. I'm still seeking that elusive bit of fitness that I know should be there, but it needs a lot of hard work to extract. Come August-September I'll know whether the work I'm doing now is going to pay off. It certainly did last year.

I haven't been idle on the racing front though. I squeezed in a 10 at Castle Combe last week, the last in the Kinetic One series, and came away with the win in 20'37 on a pretty blustery night. I was tired from training and my power was well down, but still I enjoyed the blast around the circuit. That's four out of four (I didn't race the fifth) and not a bad record. I'll have to wait until next year to have a crack at sub-20, just three seconds to find.

I backed up with a decent level 2 ride from work, around Chew Valley Lake and back the day after. 35.5km/h average for a couple of hours on the road bike on gnarly roads and it's far from flat. The fitness is coming, it's just clouded by weeks of fatigue at the moment.

After an easy day on Friday I rocked up for the West DC 25 on the 'new' U46C course between Cricklade and Cirencester on a perfect Saturday evening. I rode the 35 miles out at a gentle pace, enjoying the calm conditions, warm sunshine and the likely prospect of a Wiggins win in the Tour time trial that day. Stu Dodd was organising it and pulling his hair out a bit after almost not being able to get into the HQ at Ashton Keynes. But he did and there were numbers and a sign on sheet and marshals. We were on.

I got kitted out and rode to the start, getting a proper feel for the conditions and realising that it was going to be fast. The lane from the HQ to the start is dead flat and after "assuming the position" I was ticking along at 40km/h at pretty much bang on 200 watts. Yep, it's quick.

Once I started and got onto the A419 concrete I was doing close to 48km/h (30mph) at 340W to get up to the Burford turn (7.5 miles). That was also good, considering the outward leg is uphill and there was the faintest of headwinds, although there was a bit of residual evening traffic on that leg. Almost none going the other way though.

I felt relaxed at that point, surprised at the power, but as so often happens, fatigue kicked in pretty quickly and I was forced to dial it back a lot on the way back to Cricklade. Still, I kept it at 52km/h (32.3mph) the whole way back and completed the first 15 miles in just over 29 minutes.

The second leg was shorter - just up to the airfield roundabout and back, although that is a nasty little climb when you've been used to the high speeds on the flat. I wasn't nearly as good as the first lap, dropping a couple of km/h (16 seconds compared to the first lap) and a good 25W. But the end was in sight. The return wasn't too bad, just a matter of holding on for the last leg to the finish. It was less than 9 minutes but it felt more prolonged than that as I was tired and there wasn't any more in the tank. But I kept it together and hardly lost any speed compared to the first lap, which meant a very satisfying finishing time of 48'42. That's nearly 50km/h average - Wiggins was only a little bit faster in his event ;-)

I thought this should be good enough to win it reasonably comfortably - little did I know that Ben Anstie, who'd started 30mins ahead of me, had clocked a 48'45! That's one of the best rides I've seen him do (I was 23 sec in front of him at Castle Combe) so obviously he has been getting stuck in.

Still, I was happy as I always am when I do a PB. Shame they so rarely coincide with power PBs, otherwise a 47 was certainly on the cards. I was also happy to do it on a local course that hasn't been that fashionable lately. It even finishes higher than it starts (just)!

The only negative was puncturing my Veloflex tub on the way home, but luckily Derek Pierce came by as I was riding back to the HQ and gave me a very welcome lift. Sunday? Back into it again with a hard endurance ride. There's no rest for the wicked.

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