Author's Musing

Final Battle with H25/8

This weekend, I embarked upon my first ever ‘double25’. I’ve heard of people doing one 25 in the morning, and another in the afternoon – I don’t know how they do it without a huge power drop off.

TT Number 1 – Saturday 14th Sept

Today was the day I finally became satisfied with my season’s results. For all my goal setting, and goal achievement, I couldn’t help but feel I’d still not achieved the ultimate goal: getting faster.

I hit my 10, 25, and 50 targets for 2013 – but all on courses I’d never ridden before. As 2011 was my first year, I can’t compare times directly. Despite a big improvement to 2012, I spent most if it injured – so I didn’t ride many courses and thus I can’t really compare that many 2013 times with 2012. I could – however – compare my H25/8 times as I’ve ridden both courses, both years.

The H25/8 had become my nemesis. This time I wasn’t messing with it – because I figured September 14th was my last chance to finish the season without a secret worry that I’d toiled all year and gained no speed. That sort of worry could really ruin your next block of winter training.

This year I’ve raced a lot of back-to-back weekends and I started to develop this sort of complacent attitude. This H25/8 – I gave myself 3 weekends off. So by the time it came around I was having all the normal nervous symptoms – which usually means I’m going to at least try really hard.

On the day it was raining. Maurice has ridden a 10 in the morning and got a slight sprinkling. By the time I got to Farnham it was really raining. I didn’t care because I was going to beat last years time. I warmed up and ignored a few people considering DNSing. I’d planned today as a PB day and the weather was just going to have to be an inconvenience.

I lined up. It was freezing and I had a weird cramp in my lower calf – which wasn’t helped by the cold that seemed to be seeping into my bones. I was number 25 and numbers 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 – didn’t show up. I didn’t care because I was just going to have to set number 19 as the target (it was her first time trial  – and I did shout ‘keep going you’re doing really well’ as I passed her, so I’m not totally evil).

The rain cleared as I started. Then about 3 miles in – it hammered down. There was a slight headwind on the way out, but mainly a crosswind which blew me around a bit but was nowhere near as severe as the previous attempt. I gave up trying to guess how I was doing because I had no idea what the numbers on the screen said – so I just carried on riding. I almost gave up on the PB idea and adopted the ‘just finish safely’ attitude. I contemplated not finishing if it got worse.

Then – suddenly – it stopped. There was a glimmer of sun. I got the Coxbrdridge roundabout (and didn’t get held up!) – and after rounding it – wiped the screen of rain water and checked my time. 12 miles in 28:Something or 29:Something minutes. Damn. Why was I giving up? This was going well. Quick – self- DO NOT GIVE UP – the race is on now.

(Obviously it had different numbers..)

I spent the next 7 miles (to the Alton roundabout, you understand) petrified I was now ‘relaxing’ and was going to lose my grasp on PB. I do think I do that sometimes – clock I’m doing a good time and accept I’ll hit my target, so I stop tying so hard. And sometimes even miss it. Perhaps I am better racing with no clock.

Back to the final roundabout. A man came past me and shouted ‘nearly home’. I was petrified of losing my grasp on the elusive PB. Keep pedalling – 3 miles. 2.5 miles. 2.3 miles. 2 miles… you get the idea.

In short – I did it. 1.02.26. Second place £20 – thanks very much.

I beat one woman who I’ve been trying to beat for 2 years. Well – no – I idolised her for one year, then pinned a target to her back the next year. And I beat another who has kicked my bum at every TT this season – though I question if she had a bad day. Regardless I beat her H25/8 recorded times for the year so that’ll do. I will note I wouldn’t have come second if Jasmijn or Lara Taylor had been there – I don’t recognise the other names.

One minute was all I wanted anyway. I was on wheels that could make perhaps a 20 second advantage. But I think it’s fair to say conditions were less favourable on this blustery, rainy September day than on my previous 2012 sunny, calm, April day. So – all in all, a  successful year. If only I could do it on a better day, maybe… (let’s leave it for next year)

TT Number 2 – Sunday 15 Sept

This blog post has become too long. Here is the short version:

– I used the Powertap for this. It has an 11:28. On Saturday I used Maurice’s Shimano Dura Ace 50mm with a 11:23. I didn’t index the gears.
– I was quite tired anyways, but still felt quite speedy, till I realised I couldn’t use the top few gears.
– Resigned myself to spinning.
– Might have been ok but on final roundabout wheels locked up. Checked chain. Stuck in derailleur at front and back. Put it into little ring. Yanked chain out of front derailleur. Twisted it out of the space between little cog and frame.
– Got on bike. Took roundabout exit. Thought I’d gone wrong way.
– Sat up – looking for somewhere to turn round.
– Racer comes past me. Damn – was correct turning. Keep going.
– Asked timekeeper for a DNF since I didn’t want a time that included me spending 2-3 minutes yanking chain from it’s stuck position within frame.

It didn’t really matter anyway – Sunday was a good training sessions and enables me to write this in my pyjamas this morning (Monday) without feeling I should be swimming (I’m taking a day off – 2 race weekends I think is enough to warrant recovery – maybe a little jog later).

This weekend was all about Saturday. And I did it.

What’s going to make 2014 even better?
– More time on the turbo. Trying to be a hero and ride in snow and rain last year was silly. V02 reps and FTP intervals in the snow are pointless. Speed comes from Turbo – however nasty it feels.
– Training for TTs from the start, rather than spending the Winter months practicing sprinting with ideas of road racing.

That’s the beauty and the torture of time trialling. You hit a goal to open the door to the next one. But it’s important to take a little time to smile upon the year’s achievements.

I'm an NCTJ Journalist and work at Cycling Weekly. Previous to this, I was the Editor at Total Women's Cycling. I've also dabbled in marketing and copywriting - having been Marketing Coordinator and Social Media/Content Editor at Evans Cycles. My first job was working on a local newspaper.  I've written for a variety of titles on a freelance basis, too. I got into cycling when I entered my first triathlon in 2010. I now race crits, road races, time trials, and do a lot of track training for not very much track racing.

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