Time Trials

M&DTTA 100 Championship

A few weeks ago I raced the Anfield 100. My intention was to learn from the Anfield and go better in the Manchester District 100 championship. Having not raced more than 50 miles before and even that was only when I felt I ought to, the long distance time trial was alien and a little bit of a shock to the system. In fact being on the bike for more than 2 hours at a time is pretty alien to me. So in the few weeks between the Anfield and the M&D 100 I’ve tried to prepare myself better by including a longer ride each week.

Before the race it was a mixture of excitement and trepidation as I remembered how hard the Anfield was. Like a frog in increasingly hot water the 100 mile time trial is comfortable for the most part until it isn’t and revival is no longer impossible. Fortunately this time that point came much later in the race. Whilst in the Anfield I reached boiling in the final 25 miles, this time it was probably the last 10 miles at which I felt like I seriously wanted to stop.

The Course

Regarding a quick time I was warned not to expect too much from the M&DTTA course J4/18R. It isn’t fast, with lots of junctions including a right turn and a few hold ups each lap through Holmes Chapel town centre. Particularly the final lap when traffic had picked up for the local fair which caused a few near stops, a pedestrian crossing and a prolonged crawl while cars queued up on a right hand turn.

In fact the entire second half of my final lap was fraught with frustration. Cars were unwilling to overtake riders up ahead, the worst being a complete stop on the short climb out of the Terra Nova School dip whilst still in a big gear. I’m quite happy to see considerate driving for cyclists until it’s happening up ahead during a race 😛

Dan Robinson of Manchester Wheelers demonstrating the joys of Holmes Chapel
Dan Robinson of Manchester Wheelers demonstrating the joys of Holmes Chapel

Despite the above frustrations I actually enjoyed it, it certainly wasn’t boring. I don’t think I could cope with a straight dual carriageway for nearly 4 hours. Compared to the Anfield I think the J4/18 roads are better but the turns and busy town centre made it a tougher course to do a fast time. I don’t think I had one hold up on the Anfield, yesterday I lost count.

Weather

The weather over the past week was awful. Thunderstorms with hail stones and high winds were whipping up every other hour all week. Luckily this abated for Sunday morning. We were left with an increasing WNW wind which was quite noticeably higher in the final part of the race.

Nutrition

Determined to not blow up whilst literally not blowing up, I decided that I would need to be more conscientious of my feeding strategy this time. In other words consume more and try not to throw up. The plan was more carbohydrate in two 750ml bottles and to drink at every opportunity whilst taking an Isogel every hour from 40mins in. The gels were messy and not being a litter bug I was faffing about trying to get a sticky gel back in my short leg. Judging by the amount of gel down my leg I don’t think I was finishing them very well. For my bottle I was using a behind the saddle bottle mount for the first time, I had practised using it in week prior, this seemed to work well.

This would be around 60 grams of carbohydrate an hour. With a mixture of carbohydrate sources you can absorb up to 90g of carbohydrate an hour. Useful article for taking on carbohydrate during exercise.

Not having the steadiest of stomachs I went on the conservative side. One problem was that I desperately needed a drink of water in the final 30 minutes. This was despite glugging back 1.5litres of water during the preceding hours. Coming back from Chelford Island roundabout for the final time I went to take a drink and there was nothing left. I couldn’t believe I had already finished the second bottle. I am wondering now if the bottle was spilling out as I didn’t push the lids down between drinks.

The third hour did feel like I was 6 years old at a fair and had eaten too much candy floss. A savoury source of carbs would have been welcomed.

Bottle hand up, second time lucky.
Bottle hand up, second time lucky.

The bottle hand up this time was a little less successful with a drop on our first attempt. The second attempt I slowed almost to a stop, it wasn’t worth missing it again.

Knocking out the distance

As with the frog in the pan simmering away, for the most part I was motoring along absolutely fine. My right foot that was extremely painful in the Anfield was only a mild pain so didn’t deter me from putting power out where necessary. It was still something I was conscious of and is the only real pain I have the day after the race. Avoiding any serious build ups of discomfort seemed pretty crucial for lasting the distance and so every opportunity to pro-actively stretch out the arch of my foot and ankles and hamstrings was taken. Many people complain about their upper body and back for me this isn’t usually a limiter.

The first lap seemed too easy. I was happy watching the average speed sit a little above my target so I didn’t feel any urgency to up the pace. On the second lap I was feeling really good and at about half distance I realised that I could probably sit at 50 mile pace for the rest of the ride. This continued until about 30km/18miles left at which point I had run out of drink, some frustrations with traffic had caused a few big digs to get back up to speed and I could no longer see through my glasses.

I was starting to get concerned about a dizzy feeling

In all races there is a crisis point, no matter the distance, for me it’s usually around mid way. You’re deep in the race, you’ve committed to the effort and a little bit of self doubt creeps in asking ‘have I gone to hard?’, ‘can I keep this up?’. If you are ready for those questions and aware at what point they are likely to come the sensible part of your brain can chip in with a bit of positive self talk. The problem with a new distance you don’t have the experience of when this self doubt is likely to happen, nor the familiarity of the sensations and the confidence of previous results to persuade you all is ok.

More hold ups in Holmes Chapel and a few more big digs to get moving again I was starting to get concerned about a dizzy feeling. I think it was actually dehydration more than energy as on my return to HQ I was passed a bottle of water by a very kind lady and this seemed to bring me back into the world. Actually before I got the water it was a team effort to get me safely from the bike, thanks to all who assisted. It may be worth experimenting with more gels, less carb mix and more water next time.

It was a shame because my average speed dropped a lot in the final 10 miles. I was feeling up to that point, even looking forward to, a final all out 10 mile TT, a final push for glory. Evidently not possible this time, but more hydration might have kept that spirit going and who knows?

Overall I am pleased with my performance. My power was 5% higher which over 5 weeks is very encouraging for further improvements. For the most part I felt in control and was comfortable. I kept myself occupied by knocking out a few songs which would have sounded weird to anyone out in their garden as I passed by every hour.

It’s a drag

My Anfield drag numbers were pretty poor, I had an aero penalty of 0.02 from my short distance TT CdA. This time it was much better. I lost only 0.003 from my 25 mile TT earlier in the week which translates to about 0.3 seconds per kilometre, 48 seconds in a 100 mile. This can be just down to having to brake for traffic which effects the aero calculation. I think positioning the bottle behind the saddle made a difference. I was also more relaxed this time and so didn’t move around so much during the race.

If I had matched my best drag number of the year which was set in a 10 TT I would have been 1:53 quicker! It’s easier to concentrate on that position for 20 minutes than for almost 4 hours.

The result

Well I went a lot quicker than Anfield knocking out a 3:52:44. This was much quicker than my target of 3:55 so I was very pleased. It was also good enough to win the event and to be crowned the M&DTTA 100 Champion. I think this also makes me M&DTTA Middle Distance BAR, but not sure yet on that.

 

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