Marginal Gains

I’ve missed a few races lately for a variety of reasons. Each one seems to have been a float day with people turning in bristling times, scorching across the road surface and whispering convivially afterwards at just how ridiculously fast it was out there. At the weekend, whilst I was in Wales (albeit enjoying myself with the Strada boys) my fellow testers had a grand day out in Cirencester. Over a third of the field set a new personal best, most by at least a minute.

This week i’ve been trying to recover, but also keep things ticking over. I was exhausted yesterday and could barely turn the pedals, grinding my way up Whiteladies Road and being overtaken by Grannies not even using their granny ring (don’t let this innocent statement conjure up unwholesome images). This evening I opted at the last minute to take a trip out to the Graveyard to have a bit of a thrash at the Dursley10. I like the U7B, it’s my local course, it’s just not particularly nice. It is hilly from the turn and nearly always windy. I went because i thought it might be a little bit floaty and didn’t want to miss another floatilicious bonanza to tell the Grandchildren about in years to come. That fabled night on the a38 near Falfield, oh yes.

The lay-by for the sign-on has been undergoing some changes of late. There is a large building being erected. Tonight an enormous juggernaut was parked up. It had huge cowhorns on the top and as i walked past the cab it was blaring out ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton. There were also several pages of a bongo magazine lying on the road. It was all a bit Shane Meadows.

I didn’t do too much of a warm-up, opting instead to ride around and see if my legs were working. I took it relatively steady from the push, rather than my usual hell-for-leather, guns blazing charge for the turn. It didn’t feel that slow, but i noticed i was having trouble catching Ed Trotman, my minuteman. He was on a bit of a pearler as well, and knocked about a minute off his PB. Once around the turn, i measured it over the climbs then just tried to annihilate myself for the last three miles. It seemed to do the trick, i crossed the line for a 20.55, just inside the magical 21 minute mark which is seldom beaten on this course. The key difference is that the speed never really dropped, i hit a steady 28.5mph and generally held it at or around that figure. It’s my best and most satisfying ride of the season.

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