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.
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!