Hillingdon IWS E123 – Race 9 of 9 (First 3rd Cat race)

So after having been ill most of last weekend I was looking forward to getting some decent training in and giving my first race as a 3rd Cat a good go. I ended up taking Monday and Tuesday off training for further recovery. Then went out with Paceline and some KW guys for a winter loop session. These are pretty much an hour at threshold or just below, depending on where you sit in the pack. I felt ok, so did sit in a bit, but power was still up near 260w NP for the hour so it wasn’t an easy session. Did some sprints Thursday and set a couple of Power PRs in doing so which was good. Took Friday off in readiness for Saturday.

Woke up pretty early and got all my gear ready for the race, which is held an hour later than the 4ths so I had some more time to chill at home before swinging a leg over the saddle and spinning over to the circuit. The weather seemed decent at around 7 degrees it was way warmer than it had been the last few weeks, there wasn’t too much of a wind either. Eventually got over to the circuit in time to watch some of the 4ths race. Met up with Paul Moore from Paceline, and we had a chat about what to expect from the race. I’d been expecting the 3rds to race separately, but was told it was 1sts 2nds and 3rds in one race! After waiting around for what seemed like age, we set off out on the circuit for a couple of laps warmup. Legs felt decent by this point and I was ready as I’ll ever have been.

Just as we lined up for the start the heavens opened and it started absolutely pissing it down. Perfect. We set off and the pace was immediately high. I was pretty much straight away at the back, and don’t think I was ready for just how much power I needed to use to stay attached. About 4 laps in the pace kicked up a notch again and I was getting spat out the back. I tried in vain to pace back on but it was game over. Race over after 4 laps! I slowed and waited to get lapped to join the back of the pack, just to see if I could stay on-board to the end as a training session.

So I jumped back into the back of the pack, and into a mouthful of spray, and that was my race. I managed to stay in the bunch to the finish but at points I was still quite close to the limit. I needed over 400w just to stay with the bunch coming out of the last corner where it all strung right out. Then on the back section of the circuit as the small incline began, the pace would jump up then settle down again, which was hard to maintain.

All in all an average day. Average speed was up at 26.5mph for the hour, compared to around 23.5 for the 4th Cat races, which illustrates the speed difference! Not all bad though, good just to get a feel for it and as a training session with a couple of things to think about, which in no particular order are:

  • Warmup  – I’ve found in my 4th Cat races, the legs felt much better at the close of the races than I ever did at the start, probably due to having been adequately warmed up. In all the races to date I’ve ridden the 10 miles to the circuit, then got changed and sat down until the race, with a couple of laps before the race. Not a good warmup, so where the pace was sky-high from the off I wasn’t in a good place.
  • More w/kg – Still need to work on being more powerful (obviously) Also trying to drop a bit more weight, and am now close to 79kg, from c.85kg at the beginning of the year. So that’s going the right way but needs more work.
  • Being more aero – I’ve got broad shoulders and at my weight I’m about as aero as a brick shithouse, this isn’t helped by my bike either, which is essentially a sportive frame with a pretty huge head tube. I’m running a -17 degree stem which is slammed, but with a race specific frame I’m sure I can get lower/more aero.

The rest is just training I guess, and hopefully the rest will come.

I stuck around after the race for the prizegiving which was cool to see, there was a raffle too, and I managed to pick up a prize of some bike cleaning fluid which has been put to good use today. Both road and TT bikes got the treatment which was needed. The road bike rear derailleur had mud/grime clogging the bottom jockey wheel which must have been sucking up a few watts. So I’m vowing to be a bit more efficient at cleaning, especially pre race, as it’s just lazy otherwise, and I’m giving away free speed.

image1 (4)

Nice and clean!

The next few weeks.

I’ve got a week off racing next weekend before another 3rd Cat race at Longcross (on 28th Feb) as a part of the Surrey League which I’m looking forward to, less of a crit as its much more distance, and it’ll be a new circuit which is good, as I’m just about sick of Hillingdon. Its a 2/3 race so I’m sure it will be equally fast though. I’m then off on a training camp on the 7th March to Alicante, so really looking forward to pretending to be a pro for a week, and getting out in some sunshine hopefully. Should be able to get some big volume, and plenty of climbing which will make for good training!

KW Sporting 14 Time Trial

My first proper CTT time trial, only done a racing circuit event before this.

Training had been going pretty well in the run up to this on the 8th Feb. I’d gotten out for a mid week training loop which was pretty hard work, and I’d even managed an hour interval at sweet spot round RP on the TT bike in prep. The weather was looking good as well so I was all set to give it a good bash. That is until I decided to go out on Friday night with a friend for a couple of drinks… We ended up wandering round half of London and in between bars I was getting seriously cold. This combination of a heavy training day, not eating too well, alcohol and limited sleep meant I woke up Saturday with a horrible head cold feeling pretty horrific.

However after thinking about it, I thought if I woke up Sunday feeling better than I did Saturday then I’d ride. Woke up at 6am to get ready and felt a little better, so I dosed up with Sudafed and got on with it. The course was in Ripley, so a good 20 miles from home. Decided to give myself the best chance of not getting more ill I’d get the train most of the way there so cycled to Clapham Junction, got the train to Woking, then cycled the remaining 5 and a bit miles to Ripley. By the time I got there it was warming up a bit, but the roads were still very greasy. I was unseeded and therefore one of the first off at 9:02. I signed on and got my number pinned on, before bimbling over to the start. So much for a warm up!

I lined up at the start still feeling pretty groggy and totally unsure at how my legs and lungs would feel. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and I was about to find out, felt good off the start, and quickly settled into aero position. (The course for anyone that doesn’t know is two almost 7 mile laps, with the beginning half lap largely an uphill drag, followed by a section of rolling A-road, before a steady downhill/flat section back to the start of the lap.) I looked down to settle into an appropriate power to see no power or cadence readings. Great start. Annoying as I knew the PM was fine, it was just a Garmin issue. I tried several times to re-scan for the PM but the Garmin was having none of it, before I just switched off and switched back on. On doing so I had everything back on screen, however I’d spent the first 6 mins riding blind so to speak, so had probably been going way too hard knowing me. I settled back in and started aiming for my target 300w which at this point felt ok. Negotiated some of the technical turns before getting onto the A-road, which I felt like I did at a snails pace due to the roads being so slippy.

Turned onto the A-road and felt OK, still hitting c.300w and was quickly gaining on my minute man. Up to the left hand turn at the roundabout and onto the downhill section I took the next sweeping right handers pretty steady, before getting back in aero and passing the guy in front at some speed. Back through the start finish and onto Hungry Hill Lane for the second time. The surface on the road goes from sublime to ridiculous as just certain sections have been resurfaced which adds to the struggle and struggling I was, it was getting tougher to push a gear at the watts I wanted, and I couldn’t seem to find the right one. I was pretty quickly passed by Pat Wright who had just set off, and made me look like I was going backwards. As I got up towards the A-road again I was in dire straights and seriously struggline. Not sure if this was fitness, or the cold meaning I was struggling but I felt like I was out of juice. Turned onto the A-road and tried to keep the speed up but at points it felt like I was struggling to even keep to 200w. Eventually got the the next left turn at the roundabout and started the downhill section. The legs seemed to come back a bit at this point, and I maintained some good power back down to the finish before putting in a good dig to cross the line in 36:40.

Pretty dissapoitned with this overall, no power PBs which given how i’d been going in training I was expecting, not a particularly good time, and mentally I felt I’d been really weak too, especially during the middle of the second lap! Probably not helped by the fact I’d gone in with no particular aim or target time. Got back to HQ had some tea and cake, but was feeling crap and just wanted to get home. The weather was decent so just crawled home, still felt like a bit of a clown crawling along on a full TT rig with a winter jacket and backpack with all my gear on! Pretty frustrating day all in.

Looking forward to putting in a proper effort on another course soon. Not sure the hilly nature of this course is something I’m suited to either.

Avg Power (for the time it was working) – 280w. Power curve below, note the drop at the right hand of the curve where I had no data.

HR avg – 176bpm (which I think tells the story. Would have ideally wanted this to be closed to 180+ throughout. Only hit a peak of 182bpm (max is 194bpm)

power curve

Hillingdon IWS 4th Cat – Race 7 of 9

I went much easier on training in the run up to this race, having had a really hard week the week before, and feeling so down on power in the actual race. Just a couple of rides, and intervals, no huge miles. Although, I did end up going out on the Friday, and the legs felt so good I ended up doing a lap of Richmond Park at a little below threshold which was probably slightly stupid.

I got up on Saturday and prepped as usual, despite the weather being pretty vile, 4 or so degrees and rain/sleet. Got on my bike and cycled the 10 miles or so up to Hillingdon, stupid garmin tried to direct me onto the M4, but a quick check of googlemaps had me going again and was there in plenty of time.

Was so glad I bought a change of base layers, socks and shoes when I got there as I was sodden already. Got changed and ready and headed out onto the circuit for a couple of recon laps and to try and warm up. The wind was blowing pretty strong, and for anyone who knows Hillingdon, it was blowing down the small rise up to the corners, so if you were at the front of the bunch here it would be tough. Then it would string right out down the start/finish straight with it being downwind.

We lined up at the start and off we went after the usual briefing. I’d never raced in the rain, but imagined it to be pretty grim. It was, think constant face full of spray and grit when sat in the bunch. I was soaked again after the first couple of laps, and was starting to lose the feeling in my hands. My legs felt reasonable though, although not as good as they did the day before annoyingly. I sat in the bunch for the first half, just scoping things out, where would be best to attack from, and just working on moving around the group, which I was feeling way more comfortable doing.

Did a couple of turns on the front but was keen to save my juice for the end. Managed a couple of attacks when required as well, but nothing looked too dangerous, especially with that headwind going up the hill.

Eventually the hands started to come back to me and I started feeling a bit better, just before the lap board came out. I consciously got myself in the front group, but was keen to not be taking the wind all the way up the hill each time, so let the first couple of riders come past me and cheekily sat in up the hill which seemed to work well. With 2 laps to go a couple of attacks went off but again, nothing that looked dangerous, and I helped to manage the gap to them without working too hard until we came round for the last lap. One guy had a couple of seconds on the bunch, and another was just off the front.

Again I positioned myself nicely out of the wind up the hill, and by this point the two up front were struggling into the wind. I knew I have decent power for a lap at full gas, but wanted to wait until half a lap, which took a fair bit of discipline. As we got half way up the hill I kicked hard, I was sat about fourth wheel in the group by this point, so used them to hide from the wind and slingshot past, I was out of the saddle and sprinting up the hill, I used the first and second riders slipstreams and past both before the corners, I gained a bit of breath back through the first hairpin, and then was out of the saddle and sprinting for the line clear of everyone. Quickly looked back and I seemed to have a good gap so I sat back in the saddle but kept the power as high as I could, before rounding the last corner and sprinting for the line!

In my head I was sprinting for the win, until I rounded the last corner and saw another 4th Cat rider up the road!! I rolled up to him past the line and apparently he’d been in a solo break since 25 mins in! Very impressive given the conditions

Felt a little disappointed not to be able to win, but 2nd had meant I still had enough points to move up to 3rd Cat so I had to be happy, so I suspect my first win won’t come for some time yet, as I have no doubt in moving up a category the standard will be much higher. This allows me to enter some proper road races though, which I’m really looking forward to. I’d set myself the goal of becoming 3rd Cat within the first half of the year, so to do it in January alone after 3 races, I was pretty happy with.

image1 (3)

Me in the background, sprinting for what I thought was 1st!

Strava ride – https://www.strava.com/activities/248557859

Avgerage Power – 247w

NP – 267w

As an aside, I’ve also managed to drop 5kg since Christmas to put me at 80kg, meaning the w/kg is starting to look a bit better. Looking to ideally get down towards 75kg in the next couple of months.