June Update 2015
June has been a busy month already. From a racing perspective it was kicked off with the Tour of Cambridgeshire TT - something of a blue ribbon event which attracted a lot of attention on the local scene. There's no denying that the prospect of competing against a vast field of riders on closed roads, with all the glamour of a ramp start and timing chips held plenty of appeal. However, ignoring the hype it was hard to see the race as anything other than a typical sporting course TT with the addition of a plank of wood and some flags. And a whole lot of waiting around. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - the course was fantastic (a perfect blend of challenging terrain, smooth tarmac and pleasant scenery) but I guess I just prefer the more low key events. It was a very windy day which perhaps detracted from the experience too. I fought my way through the first half of the circuit before flying home in a time of 39:29.52. Good enough for 18th in my age group and qualification to the UCI amateur TT World Championships in Denmark.
The event also seems to have been a catalyst in kicking my bike legs into gear. In the following week I set two new PBs. The first over 10 miles - OK, so I only lowered my best by 1 second to 21:32 but it was far from a fast night (most of the other riders I can readily compare myself to faltered on the return leg into the wind and came up well short of their own high standards). It was the same course on which I'd ridden my previous best - a good fast surface, pretty much flat, but nonetheless a true out-and-back punctuated by 4 roundabouts. At one point I thought I was on for a sub-21, but the legs tied up a little too much with 2 miles to go. My average power for the ride came in at 313W (a significant new PB for the distance). In the last few weeks I have successfully (and deliberately) put a little weight on, so this equates to something like 4.3 W/kg which I'm very pleased with.
The very next night I lowered my St Neots CC club TT PB to 26:07. This event uses a tricky 11.2 mile sporting course around Abbotsley. I was confident of a good performance, buoyed by the previous evening's result and promising conditions - warm with moderate air pressure (thanks Wiggo - we all now have something else to monitor obsessively) and a steady easterly breeze assisting the first and last parts of the circuit. There were plenty of PBs and of course I'm happy to have been amongst them, although I'm still a little miffed to be on the wrong side of 26 minutes - I know I will break this course one night. My average power was back down at 292W, but still above the magic 4 W/kg.
Whilst the cycling is taking most of my focus, I'm still trying to keep around 10-15 miles of running in my legs each week. Mostly moderate paced stuff just so I don't forget what I'm doing. On the Sunday after the Tour of Cambridge TT I took part in the Henham 10k - a local community event in the village where my wife grew up. I came home in a solid second place (first on age group) in a less than impressive 37:33. I ran with the eventual third place runner for the first two miles before attempting (in vain) to catch the winner who was just up the trail ahead of us. It didn't happen, so I kind of cruised home. At least I tried I suppose and it was a lovely day with an enjoyable barbecue afterwards.
The weekend's haul.
Next on my agenda is new territory for me. I'm hoping to have a go at a 100 mile TT in a week's time. I've done a few long rides on the TT bike and don't tend to have any problems holding the position, but I guess at race pace things could be very different. We will find out - we could be heading for 'Massively Unpleasant (TM)' territiory. One of the most important things for this challenge will be the nutrition - my friends at Profile Protein have been doing some exciting R&D work on my behalf to get some suitable sustenance ready. I've been testing the product out with good results - I hope to be able to give some more positive feedback after the race. That said, I still haven't seen sight of a start list yet so I could be doing a home-brew 100 yet!
Meanwhile my sister has now arrived in Oceanside, California ready for Race Across America 2015. She is having a second try at becoming the first British woman to complete the distance in the alloted time limit - that's 3005 miles / 175,000 ft of climbing in 309 hours. I guess that kind of puts my 100 miler into more perspective. If you are interested in following her progress, check out shupillinger.info for other links.
Thanks for reading