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Newbury 12hr

Naive to the pain of a 12hr...before the start.

Naive to the pain of a 12hr…before the start.

It was a complete venture into the unknown was the Newbury 12hr TT. I had no intention of riding a 12hr until a month or so ago when the thought of a BAR certificate entered my thoughts. Although I’ve been training for long distance triathlon for some time I’ve never been on a bike for anything remotely like 12 hours. The longest I’ve ridden on a road bike was around 7 hours and that was a social day with a couple of coffee stops, certainly not at any sort of intensity and the longest time I’ve spent on a TT bike was the 5:27 I rode at IM Mallorca which included some significant climbing so was by no means all in the aero bars.

So, with no real long rides aside from the Hounslow and District Wheelers 100 which I rode in 3:58 a 12hr was an obvious choice, no?

I was relatively confident in my TT position being sustainable, I’d made a few changes over the winter including lopping an inch or so off the integrated seat post of my ADR frame which has seemingly had the dual benefit of making me more aerodynamic and much more comfortable than last year.

However with a longest ride this year on the road bike a 5hr easy effort and the 100 mile TT effort specific long ride training for the 12hr was pretty much zero!

The first wet and cold few hours.

The first wet and cold few hours.

Of course with no specific training I also has half an eye on the club record for 12hrs – 266.57 miles. Looking online at realistic targets for a 12hr a rider with the time I did on the same course could expect around 268 miles for the time, tantalisingly close the the HRC club record. Whether that was realistic I had absolutely no idea.

For the Hounslow 100 I had started cautiously and upped the effort at halfway for a decent negative split, essentially riding 2hrs for the first 50 and 1:58 for the second and the plan was similar for the first few loops of the 12hr.

I was always going to ride the first 20 mile loop really easily and use it as a warm up. After that I was intending to aim for between 180-190W and see what sort of speed that would get me and whether the record was realistic or not.

The weather at the start was foul. Rain had been forecast but not as heavy as it seemed and it wasn’t supposed to feel as cold as it did. As it turned out several riders dropped out because of the cold and I messed up my first food exchange with my wife who was helping me on the day as my hands were frozen!

I rode the first loop easily at 170W at an average speed of 22.7mph. The second loop passed at a slightly higher power of 176W, average speed now 22.9mph. The third at 175W and the average speed after 2hrs and 36 minutes was now 23mph and still rising. At that effort level the 266 miles was on.

A more cheerful moment!

A more cheerful moment!

At that point I decided that there was no need to increase the effort level. I was feeling OK as I should do after only that distance of a 12hr, the effort was good enough for what I wanted and there was absolutely no need to push harder and risk anything. After all there was still a nearly 10 hours to go and I had no idea how the majority of it would feel!

I had persuaded my wife that standing by the A31 handing me drinks and food was a really exciting way to spend a Sunday and we ended up with a good system of getting me food and drink. Each time I passed the Hen and Chicken Pub where most of the support crews were based I would ask for (shout!) what I wanted on the next pass, either sports drink, flapjack or water and that was what I got handed up on the opposite side of the road.

The road surface itself was as awful as ever on the A31, particularly the stretch to the Chawton roundabout but I spent as much time as I could on the downhills coasting with my backside off the saddle the minimise the jarring.

Two more loops took me to 100 miles in 4h 17 min, well inside the the 4hr 28mins that was the 266 miles and it was time to just keep on trucking. I was still feeling pretty good and maintaining good speed for the effort level.

At around the halfway mark the flapjack I was taking was becoming more and more unpalatable and I decide to stick with liquid calories each loop. The only issue with that was I was very well hydrated and peeing like a racehorse. It felt like I had to go on most of the downhills but as long as there wasn’t anybody behind me that wasn’t too much of an problem!

Honestly, I'd just overtaken the tandem trike, not the other way around...

Honestly, I’d just overtaken the tandem trike, not the other way around…

It’s not often you look at a Garmin with 6 hours of effort on it and realise that you’ve just passed halfway! However that was really the first time I though that the target was possible. 6 hours in and I had done 139.4 miles at 173W.

The weather forecast, aside from the cold morning was pretty accurate. It rained for the first 3-4 hours and then the wind began to get up late morning before feeling like it dropped a little in the afternoon. The afternoon itself was punctuated by some brief sunshine and a couple more heavy showers. There was also a definite flow to the traffic as it started to build mid morning, drop off during the hours around lunchtime, pick up again mid afternoon and then die towards the evening time.

I ate a few of the jelly babies I had in my top tube bento box however the rain had got to the caffeine pills I also had which made everything taste bitter. Lovely. Best laid plans and all that.

The next milestone was being moved onto the finishing circuit which cut off the worst of the road surface. It just about coincided with the 200 mile mark and bizarrely I began to feel that with still 3.5 hours to go I was ‘nearly there’. I had a quiet laugh at myself at that point!

Despite the obvious sore bits though I was still feeling as OK as you can feel after 8.5 hours solid riding on a TT bike. I had ridden 200 miles still averaging 23.2mph off 172W and began to think that all I had to do was finish at a half reasonable effort and I would achieve the goal of 267 miles. I began to pass the time by trying to work out the average speed I needed to hit for that distance. I also tried to coast more on the downhills. Save as much energy as possible to make sure I finished.


Still rolling along…

I also began to think in terms of distance rather that time. At this speed I’ll hit 267 in 2 hours, anything after that is a bonus. It certainly made me feel like there was less time to go than the full 12 hours. My speed was dropping, but but less than 0.1mph each time I passed the chief timekeeper.

The 10 hour mark passed, 231 miles done at 23.1mph. I only need to average 18mph for the final 2 hours. I prayed for the puncture fairy to stay away. Unsurprisingly I was hurting a lot by that point. Aside from my undercarriage my forearms were bruised, my neck and shoulders were stiff and sore and my shins and ankles were swollen and painful. Barring a mechanical at no point did I think I wouldn’t finish though. I still felt fairly strong and maintaining the same power felt comfortable.

One hour to go. 253.2 miles done. I could sit up and soft pedal from here and still do it. Surprisingly though I was still fairly comfortable in the aero position. Perhaps slightly less so than at the start but was still OK, bargaining with myself that if I stayed on the aerobars I could sit up for a short break on a hill and take a drink.

Shadows towards the end of the day.

Shadows towards the end of the day.

As I eventually passed the club record at 11hr 35mins I shouted out loud, punched the air and resolved to keep going for the final 25 mins!! Fortunately my final few minutes were on the largely downhill, downwind leg and I felt l could push a little harder and I eventually saw my Garmin tick over to the 12 hours with 276 miles on the clock. Finally it was over.

Fairly stupidly I had told my wife to wait at the Hen and Chicken for me rather than pick me up and of course I was at the farthest part of the course from her than I could have been so I had an extra 9km to ride back largely uphill and into the wind to get back to her. Just what I needed!

I was however ecstatic. I had a goal of 266.57 miles and thought it was just about doable. To go nearly 10 miles further was far more than I thought I could do. I had stayed controlled on the bike at an easier level of effort than I thought I would have to manage and still felt fairly strong at the end of the 12 hours. Perhaps more importantly for the speed I needed to maintain I had managed to spend virtually all of the 12 hours on the aerobars.

My Garmin 520 didn’t appear to handle the elevation very well for the first few hours but the Strava file of the ride is here.

276 miles for a first attempt at a 12 hour with no real specific training and while it went better than I expected I have no intention of doing another one anytime soon. With my 50 and 100 times on the A31 it gives me a BAR average speed of around 24.85mph and I’d really like to get that over 25mph so I need to find 0.3mph somewhere over the year on some of the faster 50 and 100’s to hit that goal. The way my legs have felt this week though maybe that won’t happen on the E2 this Sunday!

All photo credits to kinesis.ttwo

Going OK….

Hounslow 100

Riding the Hounslow 100

After a good 4:23 and 4th place at the Swashbuckler Middle Distance Triathlon it’s been a good couple of weeks of both riding and running.

Last weekend I ran the Havant Parkrun as I often do and ran a ‘virtual PB’ of 18:27 on what is a fairly hilly trail run. Officially my course PB was an 18:21 but this was run on one of the infrequent occasions when the course is run in reverse. That reverse run I reckon is a decent amount quicker than the normal way around as there is a lot of false flat which is largely downhill on the reverse version of the course so that 18:27 was my quickest run there.

The following day there was a 04:30hr alarm call to head up to Marlow for the High Wycombe CC 25 on the H25/2 course. It’s a course with a big ski slope start and the DC parts of the course are quick but that is more than made up for by the meat of the course along the A4 which has several roundabouts and some fairly rough surface to bounce over.

It was a good morning to ride and I was hopeful of a PB but in the end I didn’t imagine I’d PB by nearly 2.5 mins! I rode a 56:16 on the same course in 2014 and knocked a few seconds off that time a few weeks later with a 56:12 and I ended up riding a 53:46 at 27.9mph. As you can imagine I was fairly pleased with that so 2 PB’s in 2 days.

Strava file of the H25/2

The following weekend I again ran the 9km up to Staunton Park for the Parkrun and went faster again for an overall PB of 18:15 and my 5th Havant Parkrun win which is always a nice feeling and this time followed it up with the Hounslow and District Wheelers 100 mile TT the day afterwards.

Having ridden a 3:56 on the E2 a couple of years ago I wasn’t expecting a PB and I didn’t end up getting one but I had wanted to beat my course PB of 4:15 and hopefully get close to 4 hours. I ended up going sub 4 hours again in a well paced 100 miles. I rode a 3:58:09 for a big course PB with the first 50 miles in 2:00:12 and the second in 1:58:57. Maybe I could have gone slightly quicker but I was a ride I was really pleased with, a well controlled negative split.

Strava file of the H100/88

No Parkrun this weekend in order to rest a slightly dubious hamstring but I did ride the Portsmouth North End CC 25 mile TT on the P881/25.

Again I was hoping to get near the ride on the H25/2 and I did that riding a 53:59 on what was a breezy morning with the wind in the wrong direction for the course. The North Westerly meant that the wind was into our faces on the predominately uphill legs – with it blowing in the opposite direction it would have been quicker so another good ride.

Strava file of the P881/25

Next weekend I have somewhat foolishly entered the Newbury 12hr TT on the A31. I’ve no real idea what to expect as it’s my first 12hr other than a sore undercarriage and with a longest ride in my life of 120 mile it could be interesting….

One year on…… The Swashbuckler 2016

Lots of reasons for the long delay between posts…..2015 was a difficult year personally which resulted in little training and racing. The racing I did do was again disappointing for several reasons which I’m happy to have behind me.

Training for this year really began last October with a few solid months on the turbo and getting back to regular running, swimming has relatively taken a backseat which will now have to change….

I’ll try to add some reviews of the races I’ve done earlier in the year but the Swashbuckler was the first real test. On the face of it I’ve had some decent results this year already taking 30 seconds off my 10 mile TT time and coming within 10 seconds of my 50 mile TT PB of 1:53 on a slower course and weatherwise a poorer day than when my PB was set a couple of years ago. Hopefully I’ll be lower those as well as my 100 time this year and I didn’t ever think I’d consider it but I am even thinking of a 12 hour TT and a BBAR certificate – I must be mad.

Running has also gone well with a 5k  and 10 mile PB both set on hilly, trail runs. The 10 mile PB was at the Angmering Bluebell Trail run where I rode the 50km to the race and home again afterwards and the Parkrun 5k PB was in the middle of a Saturday morning long run.

Putting it all together is another thing though.

I did the Tonbridge Standard Distance Triathlon on the Mayday Bank Holiday as a warm up for the Swashbuckler which went OK bar a few technical issues including getting into T! and finding my helmet 10 metres away from my bike with the visor knocked off. I ended up in third place and 1st Vet in that race and had a decent hit out.

Going into the Swashbuckler I felt pretty good and was looking forward to the race. The plan was to swim steady, ride the pace I rode in 2015 for a 2:08 bike split for the full length 90km bike and to run a faster pace off the bike. I had 2 bottles on the bike each with 4 gels squeezed into each (I ended up only drinking one of them) and 4 gels for the run, 2 of which were caffeinated.

After a few warm weeks the water temperature was much warmer than last year but the air temperature was cold. The car said it was 4C when we arrived at 4:30am and not much warmer than that at the start time and I decided to wear my long sleeved Fusion Speedtop for warmth. I also chose to put socks on in T1 which I wouldn’t ordinarily do to try to keep warm.

Riding alone in a chilly New Forest

Riding alone in a chilly New Forest

Getting into the water was fairly pleasant given the air temps and especially as my feet had been on damp cold grass for some time. I lined up at the front and waited for the start. As usual the first leg of the 2 loops was directly into the sun and sighting was initially difficult. There wasn’t too much contact which was nice but it still took a little time to feel comfortable and find my stroke. It was a little tricky after the first buoy as I couldn’t see the second marking the route back upstream but a weave around a boat I saw it a made my way around it. I began to pass a few swimmers at this point and felt in a decent rhythm.

The last leg back to the exit was largely on my own and as I got out my wife told me I was around 26 minutes at which point I felt fairly sure the swim was slightly short! T1 felt slow as I was cold and also put socks on which seemed to take an age. My official swim time which included T1 was 28:52 and the 12th position at that point.

Out onto the bike and I soon passed a few riders but found it difficult to maintain the power I wanted to as it was still really cold. It was definitely the right decision to wear the speedtop but it was hard to get going. After the first 5km there was nobody in sight front of me and it was a case of just plugging away in the cold air.

Coming out of Lyndhurst I was passed by Chris Nicholls and given I knew he was one of the likely winners knew I must be going Ok and towards the front of the race as I really had little idea at that point as I hadn’t seen anyone else for a while. I tried to keep him in sight as long as I could which I managed for a good while. Each time he slowed to take a drink I’d catch up and this went on until Beaulieu when he gradually pulled away.

On the main road again back to Lyndhurst I started to pass the back markers and despite being down on power was holding a good speed and knew I was on for a decent time and one better than I had thought I would do. There were more back markers to pass before taking the right hand turn with 10k to go.

I got back to T2 with 2:17 on my Garmin at an average of 38.8kph off a 222W average power and was pleased to see that there were only 3 other bikes back in transition.

A quick change from the Speedtop into a running singlet, grabbed my gels and Garmin and out onto the run. I could see somebody on the longer straights ahead but wasn’t gaining on them and was running at goal pace so it was a fairly lonely first loop on the run. I felt OK really and at no point thought cramp might strike although it was obviously hard work.

Onto the second loop

Onto the second loop

The first loop was run in 47 minutes at around 4:14 per km, inside the pace I had hoped for and I still felt OK. there was a bit more company as I was passing runners on their first lap. I hadn’t been passed by anyone so knew I was still in 4th place but in the back of my mind there was always the fear that somebody was gaining on me! The second loop was inevitably harder and although I was still lapping other runners there wasn’t any sight of third place.

It was a relief to get back onto the ‘main’ road to Buckler’s Hard and know that aside from the final 100m it was mainly downhill and flat from there and that it would be a good finish. I ended up running the second lap in around 48 minutes at 4:23/km so not too much of a drop in pace and a overall pace of 4:17/km.

It was a solid race, finishing in 4th place behind some good athletes and although I had no idea of my final time as I hadn’t worn a watch for the whole race but knew it was good as I had ridden and run well.

4th place turned out to be first Vet as well and it was only as Richard rad out the prizes and placings I found out I had done a 4:23, a time I was really pleased with. Even with a short swim the longer 14 mile run made it a longer race and I reckon I would have been marginally quicker with a ‘proper’ length race. If the swim was 300m or so short that would be around 4-5 minutes quicker but the extra and as I was running 6:54 per mile the extra mile running or so more than cancels that out.

!st VetSo, officially I finished in 4th overall and first Vet in 4:23:53

Swim (plus T1) 28:52

Bike: 2:18:38 Strava link

Run (plus T2) 1:36:22 Strava link

The first important race of my year and a better result than I had thought I would have. I was also 4th last year but in terms of performance this was far better. As the Outlaw gets closer the goals I’ve got for that race look like they might be on track.

Swashbuckler Triathlon 2015

I wasn’t really feeling up for the Swashbuckler this year. Training has been OK but a bit stop start for the past couple of months and after a sea swim on Thursday which was bloody freezing I really wasn’t looking forward to the swim and the inevitable numbing miles on the bike.


Complete with gimp mask

Complete with gimp mask

There’s nothing like a 2:45am alarm call and a staring match with a bowl of porridge knowing I had to come out on top and eat it! Eat it I did though and an hours drive later we got to Buckler’s Hard and while my wife dozed in the car I tried to remember what to do in transition.It seems like a long time since IM Mallorca last September.

Back to the car to get the wetsuit (and gimp mask) on, a quick trip to the toilet and I rounded the corner by transition to see everybody already down by the water and starting to go in. I had hoped to quickly check the bike again but instead had to leg it down to the water and get straight in!

The sea swim on Thursday proved to be a blessing though as while chilly it didn’t feel anywhere near as cold as Southsea did then.

I lined up near the front and as the horn went remarkably found myself in clear water with a group of swimmers either side of me. Very civilized. Because of the water temperature of around 12C it had been shortened from 1900m to 1400m which as not the worlds strongest swimmer probably suited me. The current was helping on the way out and it was noticeably harder into the current on the way back and I tried to keep it smooth and strong and draft like a bastard into it!

Somewhere in there

Somewhere in there

After the initial cold start it actually turned into a decent swim and on reflection would have been fine as a full length swim and as often seems to happen I relaxed into it and felt I had a decent swim.

Officially my swim time was 26:17 but that included the decent run up the hill to T1 and T1 itself so I probably swam around 22:30/23 mins for the 1400m. I was in 11th place onto the bike but probably made up quite a few places of that in transition as there were quite a few more than that out of the river before me according to my wife. Wetsuit off, helmet on and out.

On to the bike and of course it was cold. Fortunately the air temp was relatively warm for that time of the morning but it was still halfway through the bike before I could feel my feet again.

Off for a ride

Off for a ride

The plan for the bike was to try to hold the Watts in the 230’s and see how it went and after the outward section to the main loops settled down. I passed a couple of riders early on and after that the road was fairly empty. I was passed for the only time after the first right hander by the guy who ended up with the fastest bike split and generally it was a lonely ride until the end. I picked off a few riders gradually, some faster than others and as I headed out on the second loop a marshall told me I was in 7th place.

I concentrated on maintaining power, pushing harder on the rises and relaxing a little on the downhill stretches There was also a deceptively persistent wind blowing and I made a really conscious effort to make myself small. For most of that last loop I could see one other guy up ahead, we both passed one other rider so I was up to 6th and as we made the left hand turn after train station I was getting closer and I could also see the 2 riders ahead of him so 5th, 4th and 3rd were in sight.

I gradually caught them over that last leg and made a bit of a daft effort to pass them all in almost one go in front in front of where my wife was watching. I passed them all, looked good and then suffered on the hill immediately afterwards and went backwards. Prat!

Still I was on for a reasonable time – I had hoped to ride a around 2:06 but the Swashbuckler bike doesn’t ever seem to be as quick as it should be and as it turned out my official bike time of 2:09:04 was the second best of the day so probably wasn’t too bad.

I ended up averaging 228W at 232NP (excluding the first 5k which had a bit of faffing around getting the shoes on and a mandatory stop and foot down at a right hand turn it was 232AP, 234NP) so pretty much on target and felt comfortably hard. Average HR was 153 and the IF was 0.86. Looking at the compared rides on Strava all those I finished around me were ahead of my time up until halfway before I started to pull ahead so I think the ride was pretty well paced as it was in the second half of the ride I gained the time on all of them and rode strongly throughout the ride.

The hard bit... and off for my third trip through triathlon

The hard bit… and off for my third trip through transition

A schoolboy error in T2 as I changed out of the Fusion Speed Top into my running vest and forgot to pick up my gels I had waiting. Bugger. Having had 4 gels on the bike I had nothing for the run.

I’d better just run then. I think I overtook one of the 3 guys I had arrived in T2 in transition, had one run past me and passed one other as he stopped for a pee! Net gain of one. As usual that first loop was a bit lonely. It’s a pretty run, although deceptively undulating and I felt a little cramp in my adductors particularly but just eased off slightly and trusted that it would go and thankfully it did.

Not having any nutrition on me I made sure I stopped at each of the aid stations and had 2 cups of sports drink before carrying on. Time lost but almost certainly a sensible decision. I went through the first loop in bang in around 6:50/mile despite the stops at the aid stations and made the decision to head back into T2 to pick them up. My bike of course was at the far end so added a reasonable distance and probably 45 seconds or so. I chugged a gel, headed back out of transition at the bottom again realizing a km down the road that I had actually dropped them somewhere. Comedy genius and schoolboy error all rolled into one.

The second loop was a bit more populated as there were more runners on their first loop to overtake. It was hard going though and I was really conscious of having had very little nutrition really throughout the race so tried to cruise as best I could rather than push hard. I stopped at the aid stations again for more sports drink and trucked on.

Presentation in the sun!

Presentation in the sun!

It was a relief to get to the last aid station and the last 3 km a good amount of which was downhill and the thought that I would almost certainly finish. I had been really concerned about bonking and genuinely felt like I was running on fumes for most of the last loop. I couldn’t see anyone catching me although I had been passed by one guy at the start of the second loop who was flying. Most passes at that point of a race are relatively slow affairs but be went past like a bullet. Turns out he ran a 1:22 for 14 miles off the bike and ran himself into second place.

Up the hill to the line for the last time I ended up 4th overall and second vet in 4:13:42. My run split officially was 1:38:20 at 4:21/km which obviously included the aid station stops which I wouldn’t normally have made and a few hundred metres more than everybody else with my third trip and out of transition!

Considering how I felt going into the race it was a solid effort and bodes fairly well for the year. I’m registered for IM Frankfurt but there are some considerable changes in our personal lives over the coming weeks so that may not happen and I’ll have to decide on some other races for later in the year.

Nice (and heavy)

Nice (and heavy)

Swim file:

Ride file:

Run file:

High Wycombe CC 10

I’ve been a bit lax with the posts so far this year  – it’s been an up and down start to 2015 with some good weeks and some not so good.

January was a good month of building volume and ended up doing the Tour of Sufferlandria on TrainerRoad but I got ill on the last day with a fairly unpleasant kidney infection which kept me in bed for a week and a couple to properly recover from.

Since then there have been a few TT’s, the first two rounds of the Portsdown Time Trial League and ….a3crg’s Hurting on Harting sporting 22 miler, none of which I did myself justice in. In fairness Hurting on Harting took place in a gale and I was fairly cautious in places. Feeling the front wheel start to wobble at over 70kph down Cocking Hill was a brown trouser moment.

Running was going OK as well with some consistant weeks of 50-60km and some decent long runs. I’m doing the VLM again this year (hopefully) but just intending to run a Good for Age time as I didn’t run last year. A fairly comfortable 22 miles at 3:07 marathon pace off not a great deal of running was decent run as I *only* need to run a 3:15 to renew my GFA time for a couple of years.

On an easy run a couple of days after that I felt a sore hamstring and haven’t run for a week until yesterday and it was still slightly sore after that so it’s probably going to be just doing short, easy running until London. The plan for that is to run 4:30/km for a 3:10 to allow a little wiggle room for the 3:15. Injuries permitting that should be fairly doable and not need significant recovery time as I’m intending to do the Swashbuckler Middle Distance Triathlon a couple of weeks after that.

This morning was the High Wycombe 10 which was the first TT of the year that I felt went reasonably well. I’m not sure of the official time yet as it was missed as I crossed the line but I reckon it was around 21:40 or so. A decent time off 277W average, 15 less that my best 10 from last year so there’s more to come from that. My best was a 21:28 off 291W on the A3 last year although that was a nice, warm June evening rather than a damp, misty April morning!

I was going to do the New Forest duathlon on Sunday but it was cancelled so I may head over to the New Forest anyway as I was too late to enter the Alton CC Sporting 50k TT once I noticed the duathlon had been cancelled and the New Forest CC have a club 25 on by the look of it.

To the chap who I was talking to about the Citec disc (sorry, I should have asked your name!), it’s still a good disc just not quite as quick yet this year than last although that’s probably down to my legs rather than the wheel… and I did check for spelling errors!