Things I love about winter: Steaming bowls of calorie laden porridge. Mince pies. Novelty festive shaped chocolate. Cheese. Mulled wine. White Russian cocktails. Getting fat. Giving my heart and lungs a break. Long but easy and relaxed base miles. Christmas parties. Recently discovered porridge beer.
Something I wouldn’t put in that list is a 10 mile time trial, which would be totally at odds with my aims during winter (ie getting fat). Yet, thanks to the persuasive powers of team mate David Woodhouse, I found myself entering the FCCC Christmas 10mile time trial on the H10/8 Bentley course (held 17/12/2016), along with team mates David Woodhouse, Paul Elcock and Simon Barbour (our first race as part of the newly formed ‘AS Test Team’).
PRE RACE PREP
I haven’t totally let myself go this winter. I am doing less mileage than during the summer months, but have been spending time at the gym to try (unsuccessfully) and make the rest of my body in proportion with my thighs. I was feeling quite lean, then made the mistake of weighing myself and couldn’t believe what my fat eyes were seeing. Suffice to say I am doubtful that eating vast quantities of porridge laced with protein powder and lifting weights is what Chris Froome does during the off season. Unfortunately there was little I could do to rectify this in time for the event.
However, team mate Paul Elcock advised me to do some VO2max interval sessions in the week before the race (otherwise known as ‘sharpeners’) which helps prepare for the shock of doing a stupid 10mile TT in the winter. I found the sessions at the start of the week almost impossible, but as the week progressed I actually started to find them easier. Perhaps this indicates how useful they are.
I was feeling fairly positive until I decided to get absolutely porridge faced at my work Christmas party which was inconveniently organised before the event (no one seemed to care when I moaned about the proximity to a race).
A hot topic at the moment. The CTT have recently clarified the rule that states that your elbows should be within 3cm of the steering axis of the forks. This isn’t a new rule, but it has been suggested that in the future it will be more rigorously enforced at events. To make sure I don’t fall foul of the rule, I made some minor adjustments to my bike with the help of David Woodhouse. Mainly, moving the arm rests and extensions back. The new position felt compact, but still comfortable and hopefully aerodynamic.
A time trial held in December is never going to have ideal racing conditions. That’s why there aren’t time trials during the winter, except this one. So no one could really complain when it turned out that the weather on the race morning was typically wintery; cold, slightly damp & muddy ground, and very, very foggy. There was very little wind though – a first for 2016.
The start was delayed by 30mins for the fog to clear. It didn’t clear, so the event started anyway. Despite the delayed start and leaving large amounts of time before the race, I still only managed a 10-15min warm up. I then got to the start about 20mins early and got cold waiting to set off.
Just before my start, I had a quick natural break in the bushes. Unbeknownst to me, clambering around in the undergrowth clogged my cleat up with mud. As I was counted in for my start I discovered my error when I couldn’t clip in to my pedal. I frantically tried to clear the mud - I think I was successful with a mere 3.5seconds to spare….
I started the race in an uncharacteristically controlled manner, trying to keep my power around 400W. The fog caused my visor to partially mist up, but it was mainly the fog that harmed visibility. Travelling over 30mph within a cloud and on a rough road surface is thrilling.
I admit the power wasn’t coming to me easily. I had expected to average just under 400W, but even at the halfway point my power was down to 385W. Keeping an eye on my average speed, I could see that it didn’t matter; my festive insulation was obviously enhancing my aerodynamic shape.
The return leg was much faster, despite my average power being 15W lower (370W), thanks to a slight decrease in elevation and possibly some light wind assistance. Whenever my power drops, I also try and hold my form and shape much more to try and counteract the loss of power.
In the final minute, I tried to give it everything I had. My legs were aching and my lungs burning. I crossed the line in 19min 10Sec, but with a disappointingly low average power.
I was surprised to discover the ride was equal fastest (yes, a dead heat?!), with Paceline RTs Rob Sharland. He had pushed an incredible 405W for the race.
AS Test Team mates had also delivered the goods; David Woodhouse (20:09), Paul Elcock (20:07) and Simon Barbour (22:06). We just managed to steal the team prize (fastest 3 riders) by 13sec from Paceline RT. A great start for the newly formed team.
CTT race report here. Results;
=1. Peter Harrison (AS Test Team) 19.10
=1. Rob Sharland (Paceline RT) 19.10
3. Lewis Keightley (Team Bottrill) 19.36
4. Pat Wright (Paceline RT) 19.53