First of this season’s standard distance races for me was the Withington Wheelers 25 mile on the J2/9 course. This is the first opportunity to see if all those tweaks to my position I make obsessively during the winter have resulted in the CdA of a dustbin. This has been the recurring nightmare for the last few weeks.
The J2/9 course is the standard Manchester district 25 mile course on which a race is run most weekends during the season. The narrow roads and obstacles make the course a little bit ‘sporting’ compared to some with many junctions requiring a near stop, but quite quick on a good day. It is especially sporting when you find yourself caught behind traffic unable to pass the riders in front. On one occasion I elected to overtake the traffic with my fingers crossed. Luckily the manoeuvre paid off this time but it is something I would never consider safe in normal riding.
It was a full field with 150 riders on the start-sheet. Wind conditions were ok, just an 8mph SE that didn’t cause any issues with the 80mm front Zipp 808 wheel. The only issue with handling was caused by an occasional 4×4 towing a caravan which is quite turbulent while they are passing.
The morning rain that had now stopped, made sure I arrived at the start line looking like I had already done a lap of a cyclo-cross course. The rain and mud getting to the start masked the clinical precision of my preparation and made my final spit and polish of the bike before leaving to the race a complete waste of time. Time that perhaps could have been better spent warming up on the turbo or emptying my bladder for one last time.
a bit of a tailwind and some caffeine had me slightly over optimistic
The race went quite well I perhaps got a bit carried away at the start. I think a little bit of a excitement, a bit of a tailwind and some caffeine had me slightly over optimistic of my early season capabilities. Despite having a rest behind a slow overtaker approaching Chelford roundabout I still had a dip in power during the middle section covering Twemlow Lane which is hard even when you feel you are going well. With Twemlow Lane cleared I was quite happy to have covered the slowest part and still be around the average speed I was aiming for. This gave me some confidence and I started to remember some of my anti-pain/motivation trickery. I started to pick the power again up.
With my dad taking photos at the Egerton Arms which we pass twice I can compare my position between the start and the finish. Not looking too bad parhaps sitting a little rearward on the second pass probably trying to recruit more of my tiring glutes.
The return of the dreaded loose left shoe however did not help. Note: I need to sort this out before the next race. Using the turn into Seven Sisters lane to reach down and tighten the shoe probably cost a second or so, more would have been lost trying to pedal on in what felt like a poorly fitted clown shoe. I had a bit of left leg adductor pain afterwards which I think was caused by this.
The final few kilometres were good and I crossed the line around the time I was hoping for, a long 55. Arriving back at the HQ the time keeper had nudged my time a few seconds more giving me time of 56:01. Which before the race I would have been happy with as a first season test, though seeing a much better time on your Garmin and checking the data when I got home which confirms the faster time has left me a little frustrated it was recorded longer.
All in all a good first standard distance test. A negative split would have been quicker, it’s unlike me to overcook the start. Despite the muddy legs not too bad on the aero, some minor tweaks needed. As things stand more time can be found from improving my discipline holding the correct position during the harder sections of the race. Physiologically more muscular endurance work required I think.