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Monday, 1 July 2013

First ‘25’ of the season. Bloody hell……

I think that’s what TV commentators describe as……

   …'Ambition getting the better of ability’ or ‘Running out of talent’ etc.
  Warm, sunny but windy day on the E2/25 and I fancied a crack at lowering last year’s 53:50 PB which I did on a faster (but soggier!) day, but without the sort of form I have at the minute.
  I was contemplating my pacing strategy as I sat on the turbo in a layby near the start.
  “Warming up or down?” asked a very sweaty looking rider in the van parked next to me.
  “I’m off in a few minutes,” I replied nervously, “what’s it like out there?”
  “Quite hard to the turn but fast as f**k on the way back. I span out on my top gear for the last 5 miles. I PB’d by 2 minutes!!”

  Hmmmm.  I’ve always been a firm believer that the fastest way to pace any TT is to maintain the same intensity all the way around, regardless of hills & wind direction etc, even if this means plodding along at 15mph etc. It’s back to my classic ‘Go as fast as you can and no faster’ mantra. However, I’m probably guilty of underpacing the first few miles of 25’s, 50’s etc and especially this one potentially as it was my first this year. I had decided on the similar strategy to last year’s PB ride during the drive to the event but the report of conditions out on the course made me reconsider. Against all my better judgement, I decided to indeed “give it the beans” to the turn and use the tailwind home to my advantage. Plus, limited to a 56 x 12 on my screw on 7 speed block it was unlikely that I’d be able to maximize the push home. Seemed like a top plan….

  5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Go!

  I thanked the pusher off as usual, got up to speed in less than 15 seconds and settled down on the bars…
  I felt pretty good, but not as sharp as previously. Too many late nights up watching back to back episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’!
  I was going surprisingly well into the headwind, not far off my usual ‘10’ pace in fact. It felt too fast but I stuck to it. At 8 miles though I got the first indication that I’d probably made a big mistake – I cracked very slightly on a slight drag and had to back right off for a spell. 10 miles in a smidge under 22 mins…. Into a headwind?
  I was almost cooked by the turn but the prospect of a nice push home lifted the spirits…. Until the trip around the far side of the roundabout revealed what I’d sort of suspected all along: It was a crosswind!  Arse!!
  There was a slight tailwind component to it but nowhere near as strong as hoped for and what there was killed by the trees and hedges to my left. Ok, some helpful bits in the gaps between the trees but 12.5 miles of suffering now beckoned.  To be honest, I nearly sat up.
  I did a little mental arithmetic….  Hold on… If the last 5 miles really are tits-out fast, then that’s 5 miles at 30+ mph. 5 miles in ten minutes… call it nine at 33 mph…  54 minutes minus 9…  Blimey, sub 54 is still possible from here!

  What followed was without a doubt the worst 20 minutes of suffering since getting back on my bike a couple of years ago.  I nearly packed twice but had a word with myself and kept going. A couple of times on the downhill / tailwind bits I sat up and rode for 20-30 seconds on the handlebars and freewheeled to stretch my back and legs for a little relief.  My calves began to cramp – I NEVER get cramp – what was that all about?  What a stupid hobby this is…
  It’s amazing how lonely you can feel on a busy dual carriageway. TT’ing is a lonely sport but when you’re hurting like that it amplifies the feeling. Sooo lonely, so much discomfort…
  You twat Andy, why are you keeping going? Not as if there’s a gun to your head or a million pounds prize money at stake, you nob. Just stop!
  The sub 54 minute ride slipped away on one of the slight drags on the A11 about 7 miles out. I stopped pedaling briefly…
  “Go on mate!” came a voice beside me – it nearly made me jump out of my skin. The top seeded rider had caught me for 4 minutes (on his way to victory and an awesome 48 minute ride) and disappeared into the distance. My first feeling was slight embarrassment – Oh God, I hope he hadn’t heard me talking to myself!!
  At about the same time, a formation of lorries swept past and gave me a useful suck up the road.  I vowed to finish – I justified the suffering as being the most amazing training session I was likely to have all year and I’d get my reward for it in a week or two!
  I was totally f**ked and my heart rate was tailing off quite rapidly no matter how hard I pushed the pedals.  But then the magic superfast last five miles arrived and someone finally decided to turn the wind machine on!
  It was indeed quick but being so tired and limited to a 12 sprocket it required some pretty brisk pedaling to get anything from it but my legs were dead. The computer was hovering around 32 mph… I’d be home in under ten minutes…
  4 miles… 3.8…  No, there was no way I was counting the miles off, that would make it seem like an eternity! Just concentrate…
  Pain… sore crotch… neck feels like it’s broken… Barely see straight… One mile to go. Sod it… Tip of the saddle right up my jacksy and smash it…  Where’s the f**king finish…  35 mph… Computer says 25.08 miles… WTF…  There it is…  F**king smash it….

  Ooooohhhhh… It’s just sooooo nice when you stop. That’s the best part…  Hold on, check the time you dipstick…  54:20 something!  You animal, you f**king animal!!

  I sat up and was so smashed I missed my grab for the handlebars by a mile and was bloody lucky not to crash. As it was my sore arse had to endure a couple of whacks from the catseyes before I regained control. I wobbled the few hundred yards back to my layby and tried my best to dismount in as dignified a manner as possible before collapsing into the car.

  I won’t be doing that again. I’m on this course again in a couple of weeks for a slightly more controlled assault on my 25 PB hopefully.  It turned out that the conditions on the course were very variable so I really shouldn’t have put so much importance on the reports of a rider who’d started over an hour earlier.

  54:24 in the end.  Better pacing would have seen the PB improved, I’m sure of that.

 That’s some consolation I suppose.

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