Category Archives: Hillingdon
>After missing Sunday’s race I thought I ought to get back to racing as soon as possible.
After three days off the bike my wounds had healed and I was raring to go. An hour’s training in the morning suggested that I’d be able to stay in the saddle long enough.
All of the races were run off in the pouring rain. The small field in the fourth cats and conservative pacing meant that the race was safer than usual. It was, however, uncomfortably wet. As expected, my lack of a change of pace has been exacerbated by an excess of time trials (this was my first circuit race since June 1st). I got dropped a couple of times but managed to get back on. With about five laps to go a gap opened that I couldn’t close, so I soloed in alone. A good workout though.
Congratulations to team mate Tom who came second after a last lap solo break that saw him caught on the line.
Race stats: Race distance: 17 miles, my time: 45:54 (22.5mph average speed). ? out of ?. Top speed: 31.0mph. Fastest mile: 2:22 (25.4mph – mile 13), slowest mile: 3:02 (19.8 mph – mile 1). Winner: ?
>A warm weekend and a chance to enjoy some more relaxed cyclosport. As if I could relax!
Saturday was Willesden CC’s circuit day at Hillingdon – several hours of fun racing. We rode (as I remember) a one lap TT, a team time trial, a GP des Gentlemen/Femmes and a ten lap handicap circuit race. I didn’t ride well and got really annoyed by that – which wasn’t at all in keeping with the spirit of the day.
It was great to see over 40 racers and helpers of all ages there. Congratulations to champs for the day Jayne, Tom and Eliz. Thanks to Tony and Ray for organising it.
Despite it being ‘all for fun’ I ended the day pretty tired, with several maximal efforts in the bank. Not the best preparation for Sunday’s West London Combine 50 mile TT organised by the Westerley CC.
I was using this event to practice some drinking and feeding strategies for July 11th’s ‘100’. I knew the roads were hard and wasn’t too bothered about the time. Saturday’s efforts told straight away – heart rate down by 10+bpm.
At about 25 miles I ran out of fuel and struggled to the finish (I would have packed if a) I didn’t need the miles and b) the Willesden CC crew weren’t marshalling the far roundabout for three hours in the hot sun). The poor road surface took it’s toll on my back and groin – the local highway authority ought to be ashamed of themselves – there are wheel breaking pot holes out there. My tri bars ended up at different angles because of the constant impacts.
Only two riders caught me (team mates Peter (after 7 miles) and Stuart (after 49 miles) and I only caught one rider. A long, warm, uncomfortable day. Thank goodness it was an easy weekend. Final time 2:11:45, slowest of the WCC team.
Race stats: Time: 2:11:45 (22.77mph). First 25 miles: 1:05:11, last 25 miles: 1:06:34. Top speed: 32.3mph. Slowest mile (28): 3:12 (18.75mph), fastest mile (6): 2:02 (29.51mph). Average HR: 149bpm, maximum HR: 158bpm. Average cadence: 74rpm. ? of ? finishers. Winner: Peter Dixon (Willesden CC) 1:57:04.
>After a couple of weeks away I returned to Hillingdon on Tuesday for the fourth category race. It had rained earlier in the day, so only about 13 riders lined up for the start. I was feeling rough and in an extremely negative frame of mind. Sure enough, after 5 miles I was shelled out and DNF’ed at the end of the lap. It was a shaming performance.
Team mate Tom did well in 7th place, though he reckons a bit more savvy could have moved him up the order. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Tom.
I could have made some sort of amends by getting a decent training run in yesterday (Wednesday) but that didn’t happen either. I seem to be on a real mid-season dip. This is not good with my target ’50’ only ten days away.
>They ran the race clockwise around the circuit tonight. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to work out the lines through the turns complex. I needn’t have worried. I was dropped on the first lap.
I’m not sure why it happened. I warmed up well and there were two neutralised laps to get the feel of the race. I actually got dropped on the tailwind descent! My legs felt okay at 80% effort, but there was nothing there when the pace picked up. My heart and lungs went into overdrive but the pistons were broken.
A very disappointing DNF. It may be, with the schedule over the next few weeks, that an easy ride Tuesday morning is better for me than a Tuesday evening race.
>A cool evening – leg warmers weather. I’d trained earlier in the day with the ‘Tuesday Morning Vets’ wearing shorts and that wasn’t a good idea. I’m not sure that double session days suit me at the moment either.
A couple of pics from the vets sessions by Jim McKay:
>The season always seems to go up a gear in May, so I thought it would be useful to review November ’09 to the end of April ’10.
November is usually a resting month – there are no races unless you ride cyclo-cross – but last year I kept the training mileage up and maintained my version of Chronic Training Load (CTL) between 110 and 120auF. Having a proper Winter bike helped, as did a few more imaginative turbo sessions and the second of my trips to Calshot velodrome. I did have problems with my weight going up, but I didn’t really care.
December saw a big decrease in CTL (to the low 70s auF) as I damaged a shoulder and then caught a cold (the snow didn’t help either). I did ride the first event of the Winter Series but didn’t trouble the scorer. I was prescribed some long term meds that seemed fairly benign at the time – but more of that later. My weight went higher. The lack of auF and the surplus of Kg continues to be a theme.
January saw a return to health and decent training. CTL climbed gradually back to 100auF as the month progressed. The snow meant a lot of turbo work including some hard intervals. I began to notice an inability to hit the higher heart rates, but I put this down to lack of commitment. I also started attending the Willesden CC turbo sessions at Wembley which often left me knackered for days afterwards. I rode an Audax event for the first time since 1978 which, together with the ride there and back, gave me my first 100+ mile day for years and the first ever in January. At the end of the month I rode another Winter Series race and this time managed to hang on.
February is the month of reliability trials and ‘traditionally’ when CTL climbs. It climbed a little more slowly than in the past – reaching 115auF by the end of the month. A couple of Winter Series events went well. My form felt good.
I’d normally expect to race a lot in March, but it was difficult to find events. Those that I did ride produced disappointing performances and suggested that my lack of ability to hit zone 5 heart rates might not only be to do with lack of commitment – the meds might be implicated. I also developed a knee injury which is still giving me trouble. A trip to race in The Netherlands was good fun. My CTL did climb to a decent 120auF, but I found it difficult to maintain. At the end of the Month the doctor agreed to wean me off the meds over a fortnight.
April has been a better month. We’ve had great weather and the reduction and then abandonment of the meds seemed to have given me back some top end performance. However, CTL has dropped away slightly (to around 115auF). My weight has also started to increase again (damnit!). My 1:02:04 for a ’25’ on the 18th was real breakthrough performance and I need to build on that. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the weekend looks poor at the moment!
My determination to race less looks a little weak: I have four events in four days coming up over the Bank Holiday weekend. I have done 10 events less than this time last year though (15 as compared to 25).
None of my season’s targets have been threatened yet and the slow start to the year might mean that they’re safe. I haven’t quite given up yet though.
Plus points: I’m pleased that I kept training through the Winter and didn’t let illness in December get to me. I’ve dealt with the meds situation and that is now, I hope, behind me. I’ve made cycling more interesting by managing my turbo sessions better, incorporating track work into my schedule and riding a race in The Netherlands.
Less plus-ful points: After the madness of this weekend’s schedule, I need to schedule my race efforts more carefully. I’m concerned that the longer distance events needed for a BBAR effort may be beyond me (the dates don’t fall kindly either). I have failed to adhere to a structured training plan again – I am a pretty useless self-manager (not just in cycling).
Here’s to May and June – the season of PBs in the last couple of years. And here’s to July, August and September – let’s try and sustain the season this year.
A lovely night in Sunny Hillingdon for the third (my second) of the ‘Summer Series’. The start was delayed a little by an accident in the youths’ race, so we knew the 4th cat race would be short and probably fast.
Photo by Andy Halliday taken at last Saturday’s Prime Coaching Welwyn track session
In fact it was the fastest race that I’ve ridden there and finished in the bunch. I never hit the front and the E123 only caught and passed us once.
Race stats: Race distance: 14.37 miles, time: 33:41 (25.6mph average speed). 37 out of 43. Top speed: 31.2mph. Fastest mile: 2:14 (26.9mph – mile 14), slowest mile: 2:25 (24.8mph – mile 9). Average HR: 159bpm, maximum HR: 175bpm. Winner:
Last night was the second in the Summer long Hillingdon circuit race series. I am going to ride these as training (though see this interesting piece on ‘Racing is not training‘). I need to work on raising my effort and crits should help this. Or at least they should if I made an effort.
The picture, by Ian Why, is from last week’s track training session. I am third in line and letting the gap open.
The 4th category race was pretty even-paced and I should have got to the front and tested myself. As it was I shuffled about nervously following wheels for most of the race. I got to the front once when the grown ups (E123 race) passed us for the second time and the race was temporarily neutralised. Not a bad ride though – I never felt under pressure and finished in the bunch.
It was nice to be back on my race road bike. I stripped the bottom bracket out of it at the beginning of the Winter and have had a rebuild on my ‘to do list’ ever since. Last week’s failure of my training bike meant that I had to get down to the work and in the end it only took 30 minutes. I put a new chain on as well. I hate the Shimano chain lottery: will it break or not? So far, so good.
Race stats: Race distance: 15.30 miles, time: 36:52 (24.9mph average speed). ? out of ?. Top speed: 31.5mph. Fastest mile: 2:14 (26.9mph – mile 15), slowest mile: 2:35 (23.2mph – mile 10). Average HR: 151bpm, maximum HR: 171bpm. Winner:
>Another (my third) Winter Series done. Race #12 was fairly uneventful. The bunch moved quickly to start with, had a forced deceleration for a few laps when the 3rd cats caught us, and then finished at some speed.
At five laps to go I should have started to move up (Alex Murray even offered to guide me through the bunch). I demurred – too scared to go early. It’s a pity because I’d recovered from a mid-race gasping episode. As it was, I started to go forward with two laps to go and (I hope) finished in the first half of the field (*edit* actually 26/39). I even rode the finish straight out of the saddle (as if in a slow-motion sprint).
Thanks to Lucy, Richard, Doug and the rest of the Collins clan and their friends who organise and run these events that keep us going through the winter. Thanks also to all the (overworked) first aiders, commissaires, judges, photo finish pixies, photographers, supporters and riders who contribute to the series.
The end of series prize giving saw awards (including trophies, champagne and flowers) being handed out for the tightly fought series titles. There were also Lucky Racers prizes drawn out of a hat.
Race stats: Race distance: 19.14 miles, time: 48:01 (23.9mph average speed). 26th out of 39. Top speed: 31.8mph. Fastest mile: 2:16 (26.5mph – mile 19), slowest mile: 2:35 (23.2mph – miles 4, 9 and 12). Average HR: 152bpm, maximum HR: 169bpm. Winner:
I enjoyed today’s race. Conditions were cool with a headwind blowing down the finish straight.
This week I managed to start in the top ten and stay there for several laps – it makes the pace more even if you can do this. Mid-race I had a few minutes of fighting to close the gaps, but I don’t think I was near to being dropped. Later on I recovered and finished strongly (by my standards). There were plenty of breaks so the pace was consistently high as they were chased down.
After a fairly incident free race, the last couple of circuits got twitchy with people shouting at each other things like: “hold your line”, “watch where you’re going” and “lend us a fiver till Tuesday”. When this starts to happen you get a feeling something is going to go awry.
At the side of the track some of my team mates had turned up and told me to move up in the last few laps. Ever obedient, I did manage to gain places (though I got stuck mid-field). This effort might have saved my bacon – there was a crash on the last corner. For once I was ahead of it and ‘sprinted’, probably for 25th place or so. ** Update ** I was actually 16th – woo hoo!
I suppose I’m another week fitter, hence the better ride. I also shaved my beard off which saves weight and reduces aerodynamic drag.
The race was won by Matt Sheppard of Worcester St Johns CC in his first race. I was pleased as the St Johns is one of my old clubs.
It was good to have a brief chat with cyclist/blogger/lawyer Martin Porter on the wind down lap. He was much more active in the race than I was though he got caught behind the melee. Next week, perhaps.
Next week is the last event of the Winter Series and possibly my best chance of a win… they’re having a raffle.
Race stats: Race distance: 20.1 miles, time: 50:09 (24.0mph average speed). 16th out of 30. Top speed: 30.4mph. Fastest mile: 2:20 (25.7mph – mile 20), slowest mile: 2:48 (21.4mph – mile 1). Average HR: 152bpm, maximum HR: 168bpm. Winner: Matt Sheppard (Worcester St Johns CC)