Wednesday, 13 July 2011 00:00

The longest day

Last month I had the pleasure of supporting Peter Moon as he took to the roads of Sussex for the East Sussex Cycling Association's promotion of the RTTC National 24hr Championship Race. Peter has been kind enough to share his story, so here's part one of a two part post. First up we have the build up to the big day and stay tuned for a blow by blow account of the race itself. Over to Peter...

The Longest Day

My preparation for the 2011 RTTC National 24 Hour Time Trial

I always planned to ride a 24 but had been putting it off because the training involved would ruin what I had become to recognise as a normal racing season. When it was announced that Mike Hayler and Esther Carpenter were planning to promote a 24 hour event here in East Sussex I had no excuses – being right on my doorstep – it was an opportunity not to be missed. When I told Ann that I was going to enter, but would have to ride that year’s 2010 Mersey Roads 24 hour as a practice run she said “No way, you haven’t done the training”, but after a chat with Tim Carpenter, I think he convinced her it would be beneficial.

So off to Cheshire I go with my mate Geoff Smith… Geoff, a seasoned 24 hour rider, takes it all in his stride, while I seem to be building too much pressure on myself and start to feel quite unwell during the journey north. With very little sleep the night before, I started the event feeling somewhat unprepared to say the least. To cut a long story short, after suffering sickness and diarrhoea during the ride I finished a miserable 4th from last. All I can say is that I learnt a great deal that day, and was determined to use that knowledge to help me in the East Sussex Cycling Association 24 Hour event the following year.

It is now October 2010 and it has been playing on my mind – I considered that if I were to do well in the ESCA 24, I would need a coach. Then out of the blue I received an email from Dan Henchy of PBscience regarding coaching packages they had to offer. As I know head coach Helen, a former Eastbourne Rover, and Dan, a local competitive cyclist, with PBscience based in Eastbourne their tagline ‘be the best you can be’, it had to be fate – so I signed up.

In November I went to the PBscience ‘Winter Workshop’ seminar in which Helen and Dan gave us all great insight to what training would be expected of us over the winter months. I took great heart in what Helen explained as a journey over the ensuing months of training which was not going to be just about me – it was about Ann too. Ann and I sat down to talk through the 7 months ahead, acknowledging it would be hard on us both, if I’m not at work I would be training, eating or sleeping.

During December I had a lab test with Dan to establish my current fitness and to establish the parameters that I would be training at over the coming months. Dan told me “we want to gain an extra 40 - 50 watts on my lactate threshold by June”; this would put me in a good position to reach my goal of a top 12 finish in the National event.

Over the winter months I spent hours upon hours on the turbo trainer, I also spent time in the gym and at the weekends long steady rides on the road. Dan had me enter the early season races (where I had good results) then finish racing in April so I could increase my training miles at the weekends. With my employers agreement we planned for me to book one or two holiday days off work each week so I could increase my weekly training hours.

In May my training rides seemed to be going wrong, I was having lots of bad luck and my confidence of competing in the 24 was dwindling. Dan suggested I enter the SCA 50, a good result would boost my confidence; I raced quite fatigued at the end of a big week of training but rode a course PB – Dan was right, my confidence shot straight back up.

June, the month of the National 24, I had two weeks of big training miles and then two weeks of tapering down to the event. In training I had ridden every inch of the course over and over again, I knew every pothole, practised the fastest lines through corners and roundabouts. We had logistics meetings; practised nutrition, hydration, Dan and I also rode the night circuit through the ‘night’ to ensure the equipment I would be using was OK. After everything we had done surely I would be ready now?

In the fortnight proceeding the event I had gradually changed my sleep pattern so on the day I would not wake at my normal time of 04:30, ready for an early morning training session, but to wake at 09:30. This would be less than three and a half hours before my starting time of 12:56. Long suffering Ann was packed off for the three nights prior to the event to ensure that I would get decent nights sleep.

On Saturday morning the day of the event I woke as planned had a large breakfast and calmly prepared myself. At 10:30 my mates and helpers Ross and Steve arrived, after yet another brief on plans and going through my boxes of spare kit, food and drinks, we set off to Berwick Village Hall. Arriving at the HQ the whole place was buzzing with excitement, with so many people it would have been easy to get overly involved in the chit-chat and use precious energy that I would need later.

I signed on, collected my race number, had a quick chat with my team-mates Richard and Geoff before finding a quiet place to change into my race kit. Dan had since arrived and we were going over our race strategy – don’t go over 220 watts or 140 heart rate, I would start steady and finish strong, surely that would be easy!

Steve then drove me from the HQ to the start at Mitchelham Priory where I assembled my time trial bike, put on my aero helmet and gloves, and it was time to ride to the start! Approaching the starting area I could see masses of people lining the road and cheering each rider off the start line. My number ’56’ is called and I roll to the start line, following brief pleasantries with Mick Kilby (head timekeeper) and Mike Anton (pusher off), I am given my 30-second countdown. I sit there astride my Cervelo P3, my bike, my pride and joy ready to start and think of the seven months of hard work and sacrifice for Ann and I is over, today is my reward, today ‘I will be the best I can be’.

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