Race Report: ECCA 100mile Time Trial 19/06/2016

 [Strava Link]

To race or not to race?

It was a last minute decision to enter the 2016 ECCA 100mile time trial. Taking place just a week after the Newbury 12hr time trial, I was sure I would still be struggling to sit on the comfiest of sofas let alone a hard saddle. The concern of an embarrassing sub par performance was both a terrifying and very real prospect.

However, the course (E2/100C) promised to be extremely quick; entirely on dual carriageway with lots of dangerously fast moving traffic to help suck riders along. Entry for open TTs usually close 2 weeks before the race itself, so I decided to enter as a 'back up', so I wouldn't miss out if anything went wrong with the Newbury 12hr (race cancelled, crashed out, DNF etc).

The Newbury 12hr TT went well (link), but it took a lot out of me. With only a week till the ECCA 100 I wasn't sure whether I should ride it. I had 3 full days off the bike, then did just a few easy short sessions. The day before, I did an easy ~40mile ride on my TT bike with a few leg testers. I didn't feel brilliant, but good enough to decide I would race.

 

I've got the power

I've been resisting the urge to fit a power meter to my TT bike for racing. Although I ride with a power meter during training, I have no idea what numbers I could expect to see for longer races, so from a pacing perspective it would be fairly unhelpful, and I thought it could negatively affect me mentally if I see the power dropping right off during a race.

Despite my concerns, I fitted a Verve Cycling Infocrank meter, making this my first proper time trial with power. Technology!

Now with modern features such as power.

Early bird

All cyclists and triathletes are used to getting up early; it is part of the lifestyle. but this event set a new standard for early starts, with the first rider off at 04:45am. Although my start time was a (relatively) leisurely 06:05am, it still meant leaving Henley at 3am. It is quite a surreal experience (ordeal) leaving the house in cycle clothing heading for a race, while the last stragglers are still out and about, tucking in to a kebab and shouting drunken nonsense at each other.

Although 3hrs sleep probably isn't conducive to the best performance, the morning went very smoothly and I managed to get to the start line feeling relaxed and ready, with a few minutes to spare.

Dying a Slow death

I started the race hard, too hard, as usual, but now had a power meter to confirm I was going over the top. In the first 10mins I averaged 370 Watts. But i felt great! At the end of the first hour this had dropped to 330 Watts, and I felt not so great. This trend continued for the whole race.

 
10 miles in and feeling great. This didn't last long. (Photo by Davey Jones Cambride CC)

10 miles in and feeling great. This didn't last long. (Photo by Davey Jones Cambride CC)

 

At around half way through, I convinced myself the power meter was broken or had drifted out of calibration. I found it harder and harder to maintain numbers despite fighting it. I was slowly dying.

As the race went by, I kept re-evaluating the average power that I would be happy with come the end of the race.

 "Oh, it's dropped to 310w, I'd be happy with that"....

"hmm, 305w, well that would still be quite good" 

etc. 

The graph of my average power across the entire race highlights the slippery slope (this could equally be a graph of Mood vs Time):

 

Mood vs Time (or Power Vs Distance)

 

"You'll never drop a chain with that"

David Woodhouse had kindly lent me his 60T carbon chainring for the occasion. Apparently carbon chainrings have longer teeth than normal chain rings to stop the chain from derailing. Apparently...

Well, it happened. The chain dropped off at about 10miles, during an overtaking manoeuvre. It's quite embarrassing nailing past someone at 200% FTP, then immediately pulling over to let them pass again. I managed to sort the chain on the move, but probably lost something like 15-30seconds.

(Post race I mentioned this to David, to which he said "I have a chain catcher on mine")......🙄

 

The End.

I usually try to empty what little I have left in the final push to the line. My efforts were slightly hampered because I became convinced I had punctured with 5miles to go on hearing a hissing sound. Strangely, I wasn't too annoyed at the prospect of DNF'ing as I was disappointed with the average power I was seeing (297w), thinking it wouldn't be competitive.

The tyre was fine though (maybe just wishful thinking) and I went through the line in 03:28:17sec (28.8mph) for 3rd place, behind Richard Bideau (3:22:16 - incredible time, second fastest ever 100mile TT!) and Liam Maybank (3:25:28).

I think poor pacing, combined with fatigue from the Newbury 12hr meant I didn't get a time I think I was capable of. But, it's still a great result to finish 3rd in such a quality field, something I didn't think would be possible last year.

Top ten results as follows;

  1. Richard Bideau Pendle Forest CC 3:22:16
  2. Liam Maybank Twickenham CC 3:25:28
  3. Peter Harrison G.S. Henley 3:28:17
  4. Stephen Irwin North Lancs RC 3:28:25
  5. Jon Wynn T1 Diabetes.info 3:32:50
  6. Daniel Bloy Team Velovelocity 3:33:24
  7. Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team 3:34:02
  8. Dave Green Team Velovelocity 3:37:01
  9. Colin Ward Essex Roads CC 3:37:35
  10. Gavin Hinxman Kettering CC 3:38:02
 
Looking ropey at 99.999miles. (Photo by Davey Jones Cambride CC)

Looking ropey at 99.999miles. (Photo by Davey Jones Cambride CC)

 

Race Report: Hounslow & District Wheelers 100m TT 29/05/2016

[Strava Link]

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+).

 (Poor?) Pacing

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.

Photo courtesy of Cuchilo 

Twisted bars

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.

Picture showing twisted bars after I had finished.. 

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. 

 

Result

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