Monday, 19 June 2017

Kingston to Worthing TT

I've ridden this event four times and just ducked under 2 hours on a couple of occasions. Being a point to point TT the wind makes a bigger difference than usual and thankfully, yesterday, there was very little of it about. There was however plenty of sun, but being an early start most of the course was in shade as we headed South. I had Pat Wright of Paceline three minutes behind me, so my aim was to try to keep him from overtaking me for a long as possible.  There's not a lot of Pat but he is extremely fast and has won a few open events this year.  This however was to just be a training ride for him so while I was in full TT gimp outfit, Pat was on his road bike and road clothing so at least he was giving me a bit of a handicap.  Dale had dropped out so it would be left to Simon and I to duke it out to be the first Phoenix rider in this event so there was quite a lot to go for.  Simon and I are very evenly matched with us both beating each other only by a handful of seconds over various distances with our last 50 only separated by 1 second so it would be tight.

It's quite lumpy until you get to the Great Daux roundabout at about 20 miles before the A24 opens up to proper dual carriageway.  I think I probably overcooked it again in the early part but was glad I still hadn't seen Paceline Pat. It was not until the penultimate roundabout at Washington that he went past me, with a much higher cadence than anything I could manage, and I really struggled up this last climb.  I gave it everything over the last two miles and saw 1:52:xx on my Garmin which was a 5 minute pb.  My final time was 1:52:45.  Simon's was 1:52:46! So in 46 miles of racing we were split by 1 second.  I get the feeling that had the event been 47 miles I would have lost.

Monday, 12 June 2017

SCCU 50 and Newbury 12 hour TTs - meh

All the gear; no idea.
I can't say much about the SCCU 50 other than I was delighted when it was over.  I just felt really slow, which was damn frustrating bearing in mind how much work I have put in on the bike over the last 6 months.  The course for this event is horrible with lots of slow single carriageway and sapping hills, but I felt that I should be around a 2:05.  I wasn't even close. 2:11:48. The only slight consolation was that I pipped Simon by 1 second, however he lost a lot of time temporarily going off course to avoid colliding with a lorry at a roundabout.  So even that was pretty hollow.  It just felt stupidly slow for no real reason as I have ridden a 2:06 on that course before. What the hell was going on?

So on Saturday I was tinkering with the Argon as I had bought a new rear bottle carrier for the Newbury 12 hour and was just checking things over. I've had a problem with the rear brake for quite a while, not being able to set it up right to bite on the rims properly and I just put it down to the design of cantilever brake that's on there. So I had opened the brake right up so it wouldn't rub the rim, which obviously from a safety point of view isn't the most sensible thing to do, so I thought I would look at it one last time before the 12 hour. It was only then I noticed that my rear wheel was completely out of line;  I'm talking three or four degrees here. So instead of rolling perfectly if would be continually scrubbing sideways, effectively acting as a brake. I might as well have tied a brick to a piece of string and thrown it off the back of my bike.  That was also why I couldn't get the rear brake to clamp true on the rim as well.  Suddenly it all became clear and within a couple of minutes I had adjusted a couple of screws and the wheel was back in line.  A quick road test and it was like riding a new machine.  I've only been riding like that for the last year!

So it was off to the Newbury 12 hour with renewed energy. The only downer being the strong westerly that was likely to gust to 18 mph in the afternoon, but it promised a very fast easterly leg too. I gave a lift down to another rider, Chris, who was ironically my minute man. He was riding his audax bike and has ridden a sub 20 minute 10 and a 1:48:xx for a 50,  so he's what you would describe as a 'pretty useful rider'. I was slightly taken aback when he lit up a cigarette while donning his skinsuit and tied the most enormous frame pannier bag to his bike though. It seemed like he was doing everything to slow himself down. He was looking at riding around 270 miles so with my best being 234 I was unlikely to see him much after the start.

So off I went on the first leg and I have to say I felt very comfortable with the Argon just feeling totally different. The first leg was with the wind and I was spinning out at 30 mph on some sections.  Blimey it was quick.  Not surprisingly at the top turn the anchor was thrown out but I was still able to maintain 22-23 mph.  After an hour I could see Chris and I caught him and went past. That should have been when the first alarm went off in my head, but no, I ploughed on feeling amazing.  The second alarm should have gone off when I caught a guy who was my two minute man, again, a rider of considerably more talent than me. But no, I carried on.  The third alarm should have been when I went through three hours having ridden 70 miles.  A 280 mile finishing distance which would have broken Dale's Phoenix Club record by 15 miles. But no I carried on.

And then, as sure as eggs are eggs and as dependable as gravity, the wheels came off. At four hours I had covered 90 miles so I was still looking at a 270 mile distance finish, which would still be a club record, but the fact I had slowed that much in such a short space of time showed that I had gone out way too fast. This was confirmed when I went through 100 miles in 4:20; that's 16 minutes quicker than my stand alone 100 mile time. The three or so fast guys who I had gone past, overtook  me again like I was cycling in treacle as the stiff headwind began to bite.

While I had slowed a lot I probably could still have seen out 250 ish mile distance but now I had a new enemy; saddle sores. I was wearing my new no pinz skin suit which is a lovely bit of kit, but the chamois pad is a lot thinner than I would use for a ride like this and I started to get very uncomfortable.  The saddle I have on the Argon is the one I bought it with and it's a very cheap, hard and unforgiving one, which is ok for shorter distances of more relaxed riding positions, but now I have a more aggresive position it's just not comfortable enough.

It got to a point at 5 hours when there was no way that I could do another 7 hours in such discomfort so I decided to pack. It's the first time I have not finished a time trial but I learnt a lot.
1: I need a specific TT saddle. Not the testicle destroying monstrosity that I currently own.
2: I didn't have enough savoury food to eat. I should get a bento box for sandwiches etc.
3: Apply sun cram. I have some interesting tan lines this morning.
4: pace it right.

Anyhoo, it was still a good training ride even if I didn't accomplish a finish. Onwards.