Wednesday night is generally seen as club time trial evening up and down the land. It’s good training, providing the opportunity to blast out an interval prior to the weekend. Over the past few seasons I’ve generally been fairly refreshed and race-ready, but that’s changed this year. Different times and circumstances mean that I’ve made some adaptations to my training. I am racing less and probably training a bit more consistently, this includes training through the midweek races and saving my energy almost resolutely for the weekend.
After Sunday’s horrible hilly i took it fairly steady on Monday, only doing 14 miles. Tuesday was a busier day, a hilly ride on a 68″ gear, about 25 miles for the day. Yesterday I rode to work on the bongo-weapon – Wednesday has become the day of bongo commuting. The 10 mile race ended up being sandwiched with about 60 miles of riding at 21mph. as a result, i felt a little bit off the pace and really struggled to crank it up on the way out. I dribbled back into Bristol a while later, my legs in bits.
I was kimmaged (famously angry anti-drugs campaigner who blew spectacularly in a Tour stage up the Galibier and was overtaken by a bearded tourist with full panniers) twice today on the way into work; scalped by a fully-laden nodder and some chap on a hybrid. I felt weak and overdone. The only consolation was overtaking a triathlete on his full bongo-weapon on the downs. I was spinning a 65″ gear at about 17mph, replete with Carradice. He had his head down and his shoulders were rolling like a tumultuous sea. I found it strange. I asked him what he was doing. He said ‘intervals’. He rounded the corner and got out of the saddle, churning out the power and pushing up to a blistering 20mph.
The interesting thing about racing less is you tend to get more time to train. I think it’s an approach that should work, but I can’t really tell for sure. We shall see. I’m now taking things very steady in anticipation of the Welsh Championships at the weekend.
Today i went full aerobongo for the commute to work: skinsuit, space helmet, disc wheel, trispoke, shoecovers, everything. I mistimed my commute and ended up over ten minutes early, sat outside on a kerb in my spangly new BSCC skinsuit waiting for the site to open and ignoring the bemused gaze of passers-by. I scraped a 20mph average for the hilly 15 miles.
The reason for my aero commute (or lessons in using a crane to squash a fly) was that the last Aust classic league was taking place after work. In a couple of weeks the action shifts to the lake. I needed to have a ‘bit of a dig’ before this weekend’s race and also wanted one last go at the course record for this year. Tonight’s race consisted of 2 separated 5.3 mile races with an aggregate time and individual times recorded for posterity.
It was grand to catch up with people, most of the club-mates were looking utterly resplendent in their new team kit – many thanks to Ade Ridley for a sterling design that captures everything that is important about the club. One chap was sat on the grass getting things ready; he had the dreaded 13 on his back. I told him it was upside down, trying to imply that he needed to turn it the wrong way up in order to escape the curse, but he looked at me blankly and it suddenly seemed a bit complicated to explain so i left it. After my first circuit i saw him wrestling with a puncture and felt bad, as though somehow I’d created the situation by drawing attention to the number error.
It was a fairly balmy evening and I even went so far as to shed my kneewarmers;but there was just enough of a headwind on the way back to dent my ambitions. Nonetheless, i decided to absolutely shank it for the first 5.3 mile circuit in a sort of ‘shit of bust’ (another thing my dad used to say) attempt at the CR, then see what happened on the second 5.3 mile circuit. In the end I came agonisingly close, turning in a 10.46, with the course record being 10.42. It suggests that on the right day the record should be within reach, perhaps even fairly straightforward. Unfortunately that day never seems to come and the window on this course opens and closes very quickly. it’s now closed for another year. The second lap was a formality, I was a busted flush and knew it from the very first second. I coasted round about 30 seconds slower.
This weekend sees the mega-hilly, a truly horrible event in the Cotswolds. I’m organising it and riding. Should be a blast, if a very slow and painful one.
I’ve recently come into possession of a new road bike. it is a replacement for the nanolight i used in last year’s hillclimbs. this year, the nanolight didn’t seem nearly as comfy in longer rides and a few irritating tics started to really get on my nerves, the worst one being more than occasional heelrub on the chainstay. i unceremoniously sold it and began the process of ogling new weaponry.
after eyeing up a few choice pieces of carbon, including the felt f1, i felt that the only way to go was a cervelo for the elusive combination of rigidity and low-weight. the brilliant guys at strada cycles put the build together and i picked it up yesterday afternoon.
i went pretty much the whole hog; 11 speed chorus groupset, rotor chainrings and a fetching 3t cockpit. i even went fully extra on the pedals and got some carbon fibre dura-ace. the saddle is a kit-carbonio that weighs 125g. the new campag levers have odd parallel lines that resemble the gills on a blue whale.
i rode the bike to work this morning, and managed a 21mph average over the 15 mile commute, with 900 feet of climbing, which was reassuring. it caused quite a stir at work amongst the cyclerati… as this email demonstrates:
i took the bike out to have a bit of a blast today, factoring in some of my favourite climbs in the mendips. i started with burrington combe, rode tempo, fairly brisk, attacked it quite hard in the face of a gnarled and blustery headwind, but managed a respectable 8.21. i then rode back across shipham and ascended cheddar gorge; i made mincemeat of the one steep bit before putting the hammer down for the rest of the shallow gradient. a couple of killer climbs were quite testing, chew hill is a real beast, rears up to around 20% at key points and is pretty long. i was about three cogs off the bottom and it felt comfortable and certainly had a semblance of reduced effort and more speed. this could be the psychomatic effect of a new bike.
the downtube is enormous, square and oval, or ‘squoval’, according to the blurb. it meets in the bottom bracket shell with an asymmetric set-up to cover the non-drive side spindle. this means there is very little flex, at all. as a point of comparision, my mercian 531c flexes like a russian gymnast. this r5 is utterly calcified, rigid and unyeilding. in real terms this makes it efficient, but also skittish at low speeds, in a nice way (if that’s possible, i guess what i mean is that it has that sort of reassuring out-and-out racer feel to it). the magic really happens when you start to crank it up, power transmission is instant, the bike flies along and tracks beautifully. i tried the old ‘adjust the jersey, hands in back pockets no hands on bars’ trick at around 22 mph on a fairly lumpy road near priddy. no deviation, it kept a straight face and i felt secure. descending on the r5 leads to a vaguely damascene moment; it’s possible to throw this bike at the corners, work with gravity and ride really aggressively, the stiffness translates into a reassuring stability that means 40mph+ seems like less. at one point during the ride i had to stop and check the cassette because i thought i’d been short changed with a 12 sprocket instead of an 11, but no, it’s just the pace of the beast.i have rotor chainrings, these are very nice.
other things to note, the seatstays are absurdly thin and beautifully elegant. with full light build it weighs 6.8kg. it shouldn’t be too much bother to get it under the UCI legal limit – i have some lighter wheels i might be able to switch, i’m currently a set of fairly old but lightweight zipp 340s.
keith bontrager is always right, and unfortunately he was right in this case:
‘light, cheap and strong – pick two’.
i am looking forward to some races where i can turn the very lovely pedals in anger. i am particularly looking forward to hillclimb season, this bike defies newton.