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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’.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00

The yellow jersey

This weekend just past was a momentous one for British cycling with Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky creating history on the roads of France. Equally exciting on the domestic front, was the belated arrival of summer and the chance to set some fast times in the many TT events up and down the country! The first part of the season has been a very frustrating one for UK testers. Despite a focus on improving power outputs and targeting process goals that are indpendent of external factors such as wind and rain, in a sport governed by the stop watch it's very hard when inclement weather means that times are minutes down on previous bests. Even if the numbers (other than time) show that the athlete has great form and has moved on to a higher performance level. Fortunately this weekend saw the opportunity to put those slow rides behind us, here are a few of the highlights:

Lisa and Chris started the ball rolling with PBs on the G10/57 course early Saturday morning. Both of the Scarlett's have had a tough early season, with Lisa overcoming inumerable setbacks on her road back from injury and Chris not reaching his goal of 70.3 Worlds qualification. Personal Best performances are always great, but in this case all the more so given the hardships of the last few months.

Pete_24hr_Champ

Next up was a slightly more mixed bag in the '50' at Newmarket. Oli set the ball rolling by smashing his PB with a rapid 1:48:03 and Jill then followed that with 2:08:27 to come within 2 seconds of her lifetime PB set over 9 years previously. Jill's result was made all the sweeter in that it justified our decision not to finish the EDCA 100 6 days previously when it became clear that a fast time was not on the cards. Pulling out of a race through choice is not something that either of us would normally choose to do and we both admitted to feeling a little uneasy and 'fraudulent' in doing so but with the benefit of hindsight and a fast 50 time it looks as if we made the right call. Sandra came in with another super quick 2:01:32 but the dark cloud on the day was Dan suffering a freak mechanical that prevented him finishing the race. It doesn't bear thinking about what he might have done but the SRM file suggests he was on 'a ride'. Gutting.

Meanwhile, over in Bermuda, April was not to be left behind and a fantastic 3rd place saw her continue her improvement against the clock.

Last and by no means least, Pete and I travelled up to Shropshire for the National 24 and his number one target for the year. The aim was to improve on last year's 443 miles and 10th place set on Sussex roads, and Pete delivered a truly outstanding performance to finish with 471 miles, 4th place overall, a new Eastbourne Rovers club record, and in the process becoming VTTA National Champion! The magnitude of this achievement is still sinking in but once all the facts and figures are in I will give it a little more attention in it's own blog post in the not too distant future. Over a celebratory curry following the event Pete expressed his relief at finally putting the 24 to bed and his excitment at the prospect of returning to a normal race program next year. Breakfast the following morning was another matter entirely...

Congratulations to everyone and long may this barmy weather continue!

Published in Blog