Poole Wheelers 10
A 4am alarm call marked the start of the day on Sunday when Conrad and I travelled the 2 hours up to Dorset, for the Poole Wheelers 10 on the quick P45 course.
We arrived at 7am just as the first riders were setting off and with plenty to prepare for my 08:30 start with Conrad the scratch rider – off number 100 – at 08:40. We parted company, me choosing to warm up on rollers and Conrad choosing the road – a decision he would later regret as he punctured out on the road, bizarrely, being rescued by an ambulance driver who picked him up and ran him back to HQ!
The conditions were incredibly still, the lightest of breezes taking the edge of the heat which was already over 20 degrees at this hour. The conditions looked promising for quick times – I rode this same event in 2015 when we were blessed with near perfect conditions and I recorded a season’s best 19:41 – my form is really good at the moment, so I was hoping that I might be able to better that and possibly even my PB of 19:36.
The warm up went well, legs felt good. The event starts on a flat section before dropping down a steep ramp straight into a roundabout and a 90 degree turn onto the dual carriageway and a second roundabout to cross a mile later. I started a little more cautiously than last year, something Conrad has been drilling into me, as I have a tendency to go off too quickly. I’ve been riding lots of crit’ races this year, so was able to lay down the power out of both roundabouts, which helped me swiftly get back up to race pace.
After the roundabouts, the course was pretty flat, slight drags but nothing significant. A check of the Garmin from time to time showed me holding good power, with my heart rate under control – it was then about keeping good discipline, head low, shoulders rolled in, body still, cadence up and consistent power, whilst at the same time trying to ignore the pain in my legs – the natural desire is to come out of ‘tuck’ to take the strain off your neck and lower back and you have to try to fight that whilst concentrating on all the other things.
The turn was smooth – slightly baulked by a slow car coming out – but nothing significant. The Garmin showed a 31.7 mph average – I was ‘on a ride’, now I had to hold it together and keep the discipline for another 9 minutes. A minute or so later my HR was reaching 190 bpm, the heat was taking its toll with sweat running down the inside of my visor, and the slight drags started to feel like proper hills. A bad patch for the next couple of minutes saw my cadence and my average speed dropping. Like always in these situations, you start to have mental conversations with yourself, I tried talk myself into digging deeper, dropped a gear to lift the cadence and told myself I was on a great ride and that if I could hold it together a PB was on the cards. It did the trick, at the 8 mile point I started to find my legs again and was able to lift my pace – promising myself that the pain would be at end soon and that I needn’t ride another time trial again if I didn’t want to.
Another quick check of the Garmin and I realised that the club record of 19:13 could be within my reach if I could keep the pace above 30 mph to the finish. Suddenly the finish board was in sight, slightly sooner than I expected, I got out of the saddle and drove to the line remembering to stop my Garmin a few yards later. It showed 19:17 – I had pressed start at around 3 seconds to go – so was going to be very close to the club record – my eventual time of 19:15 being two seconds outside it. A personal best by 21 seconds and season’s best power figures were reward enough however.
Then a ten minute wait for Conrad, who on recent form had the potential to go quicker. He arrived, announcing a 19:22 meaning I’d just pipped him. A check of the leader board showed that we’d taken a one-two with leading South-coast rider John Wynn in third with 19:45. Sadly there was no third Mid Devon rider or the team prize might have been on the cards too.
Big thanks have to go to Conrad who has devised a punishing training regime designed to bring my ‘top-end’ form on – the results have been fantastic with 7 top 3 finishes in my last 7 races including a couple of wins and the best form I’ve had for a number of years.