After my recent ride on the H50/8 50mile course, which was surprisingly quick (report here), I haven't been particularly looking forward to riding the 100mile version of the course, the H100/88. Not because of the awful road surface which inflicts terrible kinds of torture to the crotch region, or my fear of crashing while trying to drink from my bottle, or my bike disassembling itself as I ride. These things do weigh on my mind, because they are highly likely to occur, but not as much as the fear of the realisation that the 50mile ride was a big fluke.....
What's that noise?
On race morning the weather was better than expected, but still only about 16degC with a strong 14mph NNE wind.
I decided I would try and wear my helmet visor (usually it is too hot and would just steam up with sweat) as aero testing has shown it to be significantly more aerodynamic. This had an unexpected consequence; because it cuts down on wind noise, I could suddenly hear all the rattles my bike was making during the race. This made the race a paranoia filled experience of noise diagnosing and trying to check my bike while I rode to make sure it wasn't about to disintegrate (not so easy travelling at 28mph+).
I eased myself in to the race. At least I thought I had, until I went through the 50mile halfway point in 1:43:10. This was only 11secs slower than the 50mile TT a few weeks before. I was pleased and concerned at the same time. I felt fresh, but did I feel 50% fresh? From that point on I found it easier to think in time rather than distance, reassuring myself that I only had left 1.5hrs, 1hr etc... I started to feel slightly under fuelled (at around 65miles). I wasn't drinking all that much; which was good from the point of view that I didn't need to pick up more fluid which would slow me down, but bad because I was losing out on the energy it would give me. I only had 3x gels which I rationed for the remainder of the race.
The last lap finally arrived (80mile point) and with it the discovery that my stem and bars had slipped round quite significantly. While riding, I kept trying to check if the bars/stem were actually loose, but I didn't think they were. (Post race, I can confirm the stem was still tight. It must have gradually 'walked' around the steerer, a result of a combination of wrestling the front end in the cross winds, combined with the rutted roads and also that my stem has a small clamping area). It did make steering an issue (particularly as it felt like the wind picked up quite significantly) and made my position more uncomfortable. It also made me highly concerned that I might not make it to the finish.
This was no way near as bad as #102, Michael Broadwith, who I past near the finish, and saw both of his extension bars had snapped in half.
At the 90mile point I was confident my bike would get me to the finish. I tried to give everything I had, which turned out to be very little.
The course finish is just after a 'climb' so just when you think you are almost there, you have to put in a final big effort.
I finished in 3:30:22 (28.5mph), which put me in 3rd place (I think, full results not yet published...). 1st place went to Kieron Davies 3:27:34 and 2nd place went to John Dewey in 3:28:21.
I was fastest at the halfway point by a few seconds; I don't know if my much slower second half was because of poor pacing, the issue with my bars, or the wind picking up.
This result compares with my 2015 result on the same course of 3:45:11. This is undoubetedly a result of all the aero testing and refining I have been doing recently, with Rob Barrett, Athlete Service and David Woodhouse. I think I may be producing a bit more power compared to this time last year, but not 15mins worth. I regret not paying more attention to this last season, but at least it now feels like I am making huge improvements!
Top ten results as follows:
1. Kieron Davies, Drag2zero 3:27.34
2. John Dewey, Team Bottrill 3:28.21
3. Peter Harrison, GS Henley 3:30.22
4. James Hayden, Bishop’s Stortford CC 3:35.04
5. Michael Broadwith, Arctic Tacx RT 3:38.26
6. Charles Mitchell, a3crg 3:41.26
7. Jon Wynn, T1 Diabetes.info 3:42.23
8. Stephen Whitewick, VeloRefined Aerosmiths 3:43.20
9. Marc Townsend, Neon Velo 3:43.40
10. Alex Napier, Blazing Saddles 3:43.42