Round 6 of the the North West SPOCO series was hosted by Manchester Wheelers in memory of Tommy Barlow. Using the same circuit as last years club event the open was orientated differently with the start in Warslow at the course’s lowest point, as oppose to the club event which started at it’s highest point.
I thought the new orientation would be better as it would get the main climb out of the way early on. Having now done it both ways, I think having the climb early is more painful. knowing that getting to the top is all you have to do to finish is a good carrot. Where as starting with the climb you know that you’ve got more to come. However one benefit of this years event was not having to scale a 20% climb to get to the start from HQ.
I’ve been focusing a little more on the longer distance events and as such haven’t done a huge amount of climbing apart from turning up to the SPOCO events. The consequence of this has left me less prepared for these hillier races.
I decided that I would stick with the big chainring (smallest gear 52×25) all the way around. In a few places I needed a few extra revs but after throwing my chain in the last SPOCO at Saddleworth I felt the risk would be too great. Plus my inner chainring is not working correctly at the moment.
Road bike or TT bike?
I always race on my TT bike. The reason is that I spend most of my time riding my TT bike and therefore it would probably be disproportionately disadvantageous to jump on the road bike for the odd event that goes up a hill. Another reason is that the demands of a SPOCO are great for training you to hold an aero position when the going gets tough on the flatter courses.
However, some courses are technical and vertical enough that a road bike would be better. Power production is better on climbs using a Road bike and twisty descents that require braking are far better taken on a road bike. However long straight descents are obviously better on a TT bike.
In most SPOCO events they have a separate competition for road bike entrants. In these events you must wear a road helmet and have no aerobars.
Overall the TT bike was fastest with a 51 second advantage at the end of the time trial. My model assumes that both riders climb out of the saddle and are still wearing skin suits. Their power is the same although power is likely to be higher on the road bike. The road bike in my experiment is 1.5kg lighter. It also assumes that the rider has a good aero road bike position which is usually the case for time trialists.
Some sections of this course are heart in mouth and all towards the finish when every second counts. The descent through the village of Onecot hits 50mph and doing that in the aero bars is something that can only be done in the red mist of competition. The second section is an interesting set of bends leading into the finish. I’m not the best bike handler so I was please to see that I averaged over 30mph through them. Again alot of adrenaline required for that level of alertness.
I felt pretty terrible all the way around. It was one of the few races this year where I was arguing with my legs for most of it. They simply didn’t feel great and wanted to take it easy as much as possible. I was pretty disappointed at the end of the race. I had expected a poor result as a consequence so was pleased with my 2nd place.
After analysing my data I am feeling a bit better about my performance. I had managed to empty my W’ at least once during the race so must have been trying. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate mental attitude from general physical limitations.