Athletes update

UCI World Chrono Championships – Varese August 2018

So how did this happen?  5 weeks after winning the UK 24hr national Championships, and just 10 days after racing a 12hr Time Trial (that I also won) I was on the start line for a 22km effective mountain time trial in Varese Italy!

This season has been an absolute mish mash of unplanned last minute decisions, for me anyway! All my focus has been into ensuring my athletes were planned, prepared and ready to race.  I then neglected to follow my own advice!  I had a vague plan of the BBAR championship (Best British All Rounder where you complete a 50m / 100m and 12hr TT and your average speed is taken) and the National 24.  Other than that I was making it up as I went along!

Back in May I went to Halesowen to meet my partners from Aerocoach and do some testing, Xavier spiked the competitor in me by stating I had decent aerodynamics and why not go to Denmark and qualify for the UCI worlds (I missed the UK qualifier at Cambridge).

So that was that – off I went to Denmark on a cold June day to race round the flat and windy roads outside Grinstead.  It worked, I won the age category and posted the 2nd fastest ride of anyone on the day to qualify for Varese


I thought then occurred to me,  I had some very good friends from my Triathlon days who had emigrated to Northern Italy, so after a quick exchange  of messages and the realisation that they actually lived in Varese and virtually on the course the mind was made up – Italy here we come!

So 3 days after the 12hr (that was one of the most horrible races I’d EVER done!)  I was back trying to turn this efficient diesel engine back into a turbo petrol model.  No easy feat.  Its not something I’d recommend anyone try , but I was intrigued to see what I could do.

I wrote myself a 5 day ‘speed cram’.  I was going to layer on increasing intensity speed sessions over 5 days – short and sharp and see where this took me.

Thursday – 2 x 30 min over / under’s at sweet spot (+90% of threshold intensity) at about 350w average.  The idea here was to ‘reawaken the engine’ sub threshold

SS ou

Friday – 4 x 4mins Tabata – this was HELL!  It may only be 4 mins but aiming for 500w for 20secs and 200w for 10secs delivered a HUGE average way over FTP for 16 mins of solid work (*you will see I didn’t quite make the ‘top’ but ensured every recovery element was above the target to compensate – this is a classic example of my loss of top end with all the endurance)

4 x 4 tabata

Saturday – TT bike hill reps.  I am luck I live in a very hilly area so was able to replicate the length and steepness of the race route and do intervals.  I aimed for 2 climbs starting at around SS (sweet spot) and climbing to FTP or above.  these were 16 and 21min efforts.  Again delivering me over 30mins of quality work, in TT position, simulating the race plan on similar terrain.

HIll reps

Sunday – maintenance ride – 90mins Z3.  Again on the TT bike, rolling terrain where I aimed to hold a solid 315w.

Monday – Anaerobic hills.  I headed for some STEEP hills and just smashed out an hour of varying length hills way above FTP

anaerobic hills

What I was really pleased with was how my body responded,  the first 2 days were a horrible struggle!  But by Saturday I relished the hills and produced (for me) some quality numbers.  By Monday I hit for 2nd best ever 5 min power numbers (*even dating back to the days I was focusing on short distance races)

Come Wednesday I was rested and ready to fly off. I arrived in Varese to be met by good mate Phil Fox who I was to be staying with and his lovely family, Adele, Oliver & Evie.

This is where further parts illustrate my (in this instance) poor planning.  Due to work commitments I couldn’t get out there earlier than Weds night (race on Thursday pm!).  So all we had time to do was a cursory drive of the course, which gave me a feel for it, but would prove to be a fatal error!

Early research showed it was going to be some challenge, 8km of climbing at a steady 3-5%, with sections maxing out at 15% and then the corresponding return would mean specific gearing was a must.  I opted for a 60T front ring with 46T inner (custom made by Fibre-Lyte) and a 11-32 rear block.  this gave me the full range to be able to push on up hill, but also still keep accelerating at way over 40mph coming back down.

The drive proved the gearing was the right choice!!

Come race day we headed out for an early spin to register and warm up, and the legs were ok !


Registration done – Kit ready – including the special NoPinz GB kit


So the race… 21st Overall , 30:16.   That does not quite tell the whole story!

UCI race

The race file is massively interesting to me and illustrates a number of my mistakes with my poor preparation.

  1. Normalised Power for the race of 369w is the best I have put out for that distance this season – the cramming worked!
    1. The reality is the endurance work has scrubbed a lot of my top end, but i am confident with the type of training approach I was doing I could get this back
  2. Race Recce
    1. I hadn’t managed to properly recce or ride any of it – this showed in 4 sections
      1. START
        1. the start was a tight twisty exit of the Hippodrome where we were based.  As I had not ridden it i did not get the lines right and was way slower out of this section than many others were.  My caution showed as when i exited onto the main road my power was only at 299w,  way below the subsequent race average, and valuable seconds lost
        1. I got my gearing all wrong here as i entered and laboured my exit in the wrong gear
      3.  TURN
        1. This was awful!  I had recce’d and it looked like the turn was a 180 degree turn round a roundabout – would make sense and is what we do in the UK!  so I shot up to the ‘turn’ and was surprised to see spectators, Police men and then a tape across the road – I shot through them all!  i went round the ‘turn’ to realise the actual turn was a cone in the road about 70m before the roundabout!  What an idiot!  I lost my head a bit here, annoyed with my mistake and it took a few minutes to get my focus back – as shown by the drop in power.  I mentally knew I’d screwed it all up by now
        1. This was a 200m steep ascent followed by speed bumps and a tight right hander into the last KM.  My approach was ok, but I stayed in too high a gear and laboured over the top,  then the tight right hander was on a gradient and I was geared all wrong here and took a good few metres to get this right and push on.

So I crossed the line in 30:16 (official timing) knowing I’d not done enough, but also fairly pleased with the ride.

Lots of lessons learned, lots to take away and a great experience.  My key lessons:

  1. Trying to mix ultra endurance and short distance speed is a VERY BIG ASK – obviously I knew this , but really wanted to experiment to see what I could do!
  2. Course recce’s are vital – the more technical the more important – and don’t just cruise round, you need to hit key sections at race pace to know the line, the road furniture and areas to push on or not.
  3. Riding key sections and understanding your gearing is crucial.
  4. Pre-race preparation and thinking about the right gearing to use (if hilly) is wirthwhile
  5. Enjoy it!  Ok I made lost  of mistakes, but it was a great experience, great to test against the best and meet up with old friends and racers from the UK scene.

A special call out to Matt Smith (Drag2zero) who gained another SIlver in the 40-45 category with a stunning ride just 0.05 secs off Gold!  Also to Chris Loake for a Silver in the 35-40 age group with a stunning ride!




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