I am currently training for the London Marathon which is in April. It is quite difficult fitting in both cycling and running training. The day before the race, I thought I should probably run to get my weekly mileage up a bit, but didn’t want to go very long or fast so that it compromised the time trial the day after. I thought a great idea would be to do a trail run, so that I wasn’t tempted to go too fast. Unfortunately, halfway through I rolled my ankle, reducing me to a walk. I was still about 5miles from home and was struggling to walk. Luckily, a passing estate agent driving to a viewing saw me struggling and offered me a lift home.
When I got home, I applied a cold compress and took some ibuprofen. It didn’t look great though.
RACE DAY MORNING
The morning of the race, my ankle felt ok. The race HQ was in a village called Freith – about half an hour ride from Henley. I decided I would ride to the HQ and use this as my warm up. I rode very gently, with a few efforts to test my ankle, which actually felt fine, putting my mind at ease.
The conditions were relatively good, although very cold. There was some sun breaking through and a ~10mph wind that was starting to dry the roads out. At the HQ, the organisers had put some warnings on a notice board about ice and poor road surfaces. This, together with the hilly nature of the course was going to make it a testing race.
At the HQ were fellow GS Henley riders Ryan Davies and Simon Barbour, as well as Henley based Matt Mckibbin who rides for Royal Navy.
As I live in Henley, I frequently ride the roads of the course. I was concerned about the number of junctions, turnings and likely traffic that would have the potential to hold me up. I decided I wouldn’t be taking any risks for the sake of saving a few seconds.
The first ~20mins of the race was a steady slog into a headwind and a 1 or 2% gradient. I knew that I needed to make the most of this gradient and go over my threshold, as it would be difficult to keep the power high during the later downhill sections. Unfortunately, my legs weren’t able to deliver what I was hoping for! I managed around 360W. I put this down to my lack of training hours on my TT bike this season (I had only actually ridden my TT bike once before the race – a 60min spin on rollers to test it all worked).
From around 20mins to 40mins, the course was mainly downhill, with a very fast section into Henley. I stayed on the extensions during this, but did a lot of freewheeling as the speed approached 50mph. As a result, my average power was quite low at around 310W.
From 40mins to the end, there is a mainly flat section into Marlow, before the final climb to the finish. I was the minute man of Danny Axford of Arctic Tacx RT, who passed me along the flat section. I kept him in sight as we approached Marlow, but there was a small traffic tailback as cars were attempting to overtake a slow moving tricycle doing the Time Trial (this happened a few times during the race). Danny managed to overtake the cars and tricycle and disappeared into the distance. For this final section I managed to average around 348W.
My finish time was 1:10:36 for a 4th place. Danny Axford won in a time of 1:08:31, beating 2nd Place Tejvan Pettinger by just 1 second, in 1:08:32. 3rd Place was Pat Wright in a time of 1:09:08.
Fellow GS Henley riders Ryan Davies placed 5th in a time of 1:12:56 and Simon Barbour finished in 1:14:04.
A hilly time trial like this will never suit a rider of my build (84kg currently), so I went in to the race expecting to finish outside the top 3. I wanted to treat the race as an early season benchmark, using my powertap wheel to gauge my threshold power. It turns out, this isn’t as high as I hoped (around 340W vs 370w on my road bike tested up Teide in Tenerife last month). This was partly because of the challenging road surface and elevation profile, but also as I havent done enough (any) rides in the TT position. As the weather gets better I will hopefully do some longer rides on my TT bike to get used to the position for the upcoming season.