Race Report: FCCC Christmas 10mile TT 17/12/2016

 [Strava Link]

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.

 
A failed VO2max interval session

A failed VO2max interval session

 

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).

 

3cms

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.

 
Moving arm rests back slightly to comply with '3cm rule' 

Moving arm rests back slightly to comply with '3cm rule' 

 

 

THE RACE

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. 

 
AS Test Teams Paul Elcock and Simon Barbour 'warming up' (in their own unique ways) 

AS Test Teams Paul Elcock and Simon Barbour 'warming up' (in their own unique ways) 

 

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.

 

RESULTS

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

Results Board

Results Board

AS Test Team take the team award

AS Test Team take the team award

Race Report: Newbury 12hr Time Trial 12/06/2016

Strava Link

The stretch of the A31 between Farnham and Alton is a horrible road, and the weather yesterday (Sunday, 12 June 2016) was diabolical. So what a perfect time and place to spend 12hrs riding up and down, as part of the Newbury Road Club 12hr time trial. My brain is still quite foggy from the fatigue and lack of sleep, so I have summarised the race report in 12 (symbolic) bullet points-

  1. A rabbit nearly killed me in the first 30mins. (He ran out from the undergrowth right in front of me). When he didn't, I hated the rabbit for not saving me from having to ride the next 11.5hrs.
  2. I thought I had a puncture in the first hour, but think it was just because I decided to use slightly lower pressure than  normal because of the rain. It still meant 11hrs of paranoid puncture thoughts.
  3. My position on the bike felt really comfortable for 5.5hrs. For the remaining 6.5hrs it was agonising. There was no in-between.
  4. Everything hurts during a 12hr time trial; Back, shoulders, neck, gooch, shins, feet. But not my legs.
  5. it rained persistently for the first half of the race, meaning I could barely see anything through my visor. Possibly a blessing in disguise as it forced me to pace myself.
  6. When it was raining, I wanted it to stop. When it stopped, I wanted it to rain again.
  7. As time passed by, my perception of how quickly it was passing changed. Hours 0-6 felt like 6hrs, 6-10 felt like 8hrs, 10-11:45 felt like 60mins, the final 15mins felt like an eternity.
  8. To pass the time I tried doing mental arithmetic to work out estimated finishing distances. I struggle to do maths when simply sat at my desk, but after many hours on the bike it becomes impossible. I actually think I started to become slightly delirious near the end.
  9. The wind picked up in the last few hours, making the westward leg soul destroyigly slow (~23mph) and the eastward return extremely quick (~27mph). It also made pacing difficult.
  10. My saddle bag and rear light fell off my bike at some point. As soon as I noticed, my chance of getting a puncture or mechanical problem obviously skyrocketed. Luckily, I got to 12hrs without any issues.
  11. I discovered the garmin 920xt battery lasts exactly 11hrs , then dies. So don't get one if you want to use it for an ironman (unless you plan on going quicker).
  12. Official distance is still TBC, but I think I managed to ride 311miles (fraction under 26mph average) and finished in 1st place. A huge improvement on my 2015 result of 292.15miles (24.3mph average).

I owe a massive thanks to the people behind the ride, that gave up their day (or part of) to hand me stuff in the pouring rain, while I barked instructions at them.  

  • James Churchard - who should really have been riding.
  • Lydia - did a great job of handing up bottles which I never took.
  • Joanne - sorry for accidentally spitting a bagel at your face.
  • David Woodhouse - thanks for the awesome caffeine turbocharged gel you handed me (even though it repeated on me for an hour).
  • Paul Elcock -  did an incredible job for 12hrs handing me stuff on the go. He mastered the art of taping all sorts to water bottles (including a spare garmin when mine ran out!). He wrapped food up in cling film and taped these to bottles, and each one was a surprise concoction. Some of them were edible 😀
  • The organisers and marshals who gave up their Sunday to put run the event and make it happen.

Some photos from the day taken by Kinesis Ttwo, who was there for the entire day.

Paul getting wheels ready because he thought I had a puncture. Because I told him I had a puncture.

Lovely day for it

Lovely day for it

Spent.

Spent.

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