After forgetting about the ToF dinner I had no hangover to use for an excuse as I fought the headwind out to the West London Combine 40k/25mi time trial start.
Brian pinned on my number and I left my bits and bobs under a motorway overpass on the A413 (Amersham Road) before heading off to warm up and stretch a bit. Saw Richard Jerome who had previously told me that a 1:05 on this course would mean a sub-hour time on the fast ski-slope course. So, with no other target in mind, I was aiming for 1:05.
Rolled down to the Old Amersham Road for my start. I'd watched a "serious" TTer grunt and scream as he left. I would not be doing that.. at least.. not yet. I think I was the second last rider off, at 8:38.
This was only the second ride on the S-Works for over 6 months which also meant I'd not used road pedals for the same length of time. I had massive clip in fail at the start but heard the magic click just as the starter got to "1.. go!". Phew. Big gear down the steep little ramp of a road, along the slip lane and then merging onto the main A413. My HR was not showing (that's two flat batteries in my PT straps) so I was going to have to work off power alone. I knew I was going out too hard and mentally forced myself to slow down (400W to 300W).
There was a strong headwind on the way out. I'd read that on an out and back course, there's no point saving yourself for the tailwind return since you can't make up the time you lose on the way out. So, my aim was to hold around 300W for the way out (my 1hr TT wattage from last year) and then smash it on the return with whatever I had left.
On the bumpy course I found myself stuck behind a big digger. It took up the whole lane and it was going fast enough to make passing tricky but slow enough that I was coasting behind it down the hill, wasting time. Eventually we both came to a stop at a red light. A what?! Yes, the course had some road works going on so there was a portable traffic light setup. Bye bye 20-30 seconds. The digger turned right and I had a clear road.
I saw a Willesden CC
jersey marshaling the roundabout and slowed down (wanting to see who it was while not getting into any issues with a club mate watching :)). It was John W.
Accelerating out of the roundabout I was somewhat shocked to see BringMeMyFix yelling encouragement at me. He'd ridden from London EC2 (ie. way too far to watch a TT). I couldn't do much except grin (or grimace or something?) and was pretty chuffed that I had a supporter out there so I of course increased my power output.
It was hard work going into the wind. Even at 300W I was only traveling at 25-30kph at places, which to be fair is pretty rubbish. Maybe there was some gradient involved too? I passed a few of our guys along here. At one of the roundabouts had another slow down. I see car coming 'round and slow, but then he sees me and slows down too. Doh! If he'd have continued on without looking he would've been gone but now we've both come to a stop! Off I go, losing 10-20 seconds. I see Richard Jerome on his way back and yell "Go Ritch!" at him.
A while later I hit the turnaround. I think there were some more Willesden people on roundabouts here because I'm sure I heard a "go Birnie" from someone. Thanks :)
The speed on the way back was much better. It was so much nicer with the tailwind. I love riding fast and I love riding fast with less effort even more! I'm sure there's also a psychological benefit to knowing you are "on the way home".
I went passed BMMF and again he was yelling out encouragement which did well to bump my mood and speed.
Unfortunately the road works red light was in full effect again on the way home. I'd slowed down before it, hoping it might go green before I arrived at it but no such luck. I was looking both sides for options but there was oncoming traffic in the 'other lane' and a 4x4 filling up the road so I couldn't get by. ARRGH! I had to unclip and wait. What a complete &%$&!
Apart from stopping your forward progress it also messes with your rhythm and forces you to accelerate when you restart. In my case it also made me think I'd broken a pedal when I tried clipping in again (trackstanding isn't an option when you've been at limit for the last 50min). So, I'd clipped in but it didn't feel right. I unclipped and pulled my shoe back, clipped in with a satisfying "click" and was angry and good to go. There's a good 20-30 seconds lost again. Grrr..
Up up up! I could see a sign down the road and guessed it must be the finish line. I was going to sprint for it but decided I might collapse so opted for the seated "sprint" finish.
Result! 2 minutes faster than my goal time (and Rich's time :)).
I missed 5th place (out of 50 starters) by 7 seconds. Fastest time was 57:36. I bet they weren't riding on the drops though ;)
Thanks to the helpful/cheerful starters and thanks to the guys and gals from Willesden CC for marshaling the course. No wrong turns for me! :)
Big thanks to Scarlett for randomly showing up and cheering (and the coffee). You probably saved me a minute with the extra motivation.
bikely.com - HCC113 Course
West London Combine (WLC) 40k / 25 mile TT results - 22nd March 2009
I'm just looking at my power data and shaking my head..
Normalised Power: 355W
Average Power: 342W
That's a LOAD more than last year! Last year's only 25 on a faster course in May..
Normalised Power: 318W
Average Power: 306W
I checked and other than the large increase it doesn't look
like a calibration failure. Guess I'll have to do another 25 for verification now.
Cheers Tommy. I was quite happy with that ride.