Having a mid winter goal is a great way of keeping focused through the foggy, cold winter months. This week involved a 10 mile time trial on the Bentley bypass for me. This blog will show you why it’s necessary to have a practice event as well as how to adjust and adapt your plan according to what you discover in your post ride analysis.
OH FOG OFF! Conditions were far from clear and it was touch and go whether the event would run at all. After a 30 minute delay to the start, the first riders set off. I had a rear light with me so there was no excuses at that point, nobody wants to be the only one to chicken out. Also, i’ve done three time trial specific sessions in the last few weeks and spent a fair amount of dusting off my time trial bike.
Commitment levels were high but the temperature was not. It felt much colder than the forecast suggested so it was definitely a full length tights day for me. There are no prizes for showing the most flesh (unfortunately) and shivering on the start line is guaranteed to lead to a sub-par performance. Thankfully i’d brought a boat load of kit and accessory options with me so i was prepared for all weather… and colour combinations. You’d think this might lead to me looking classy and stylish on the bike at all times, however I have a terrible habit of sacrificing style for aero. Must have a word with myself.
Warm up was strong and I arrived at the start with a gentle sweat on and two minutes to spare, perfect. That was short lived as things continued to run perfectly until only about 90 seconds into the race, then my visor completely steamed up, great. So the first 5 miles of the race I mostly spent sat up, wiping the inside of my visor. Lesson Learnt: don’t wipe all the anti-fog treatment off your visor right before a race.
I ditched my visor and hurled it, along with several expletives, onto a roundabout at the halfway point. This meant I could regain my composure for the return leg and do a lot of squinting. Any chance of a win was pretty much ruined by that point which makes it difficult to re-motivate yourself. However, I had a word with the chimp and got my head down. This is reflected in the power numbers as my average power for the first 5 minutes was the same as the last 5 minutes! The lesson there is never give up, always keep riding hard no matter how bad you think the situation is. Better to rattle out a hard effort regardless, rather than dealing with the regret of what could have been if you’d just kept on riding.
Are there more lessons to be learnt from this race? Or should I just sort my visor out next time?
Well, let’s dive into the data a little deeper. Strava’s comparison feature is fantastic for seeing which parts of the course you gained or lost time on the winner, which in this case was the formidable porridge lover, Pete Harrison. When splitting the race into the out and back segments I can see where all my time was lost.
I lost a minute to Pete on the outbound leg, and only one second on the return leg… a massive difference. This can be seen in the following two screen shots, first one being the outbound leg. The black line is my position and the purple line represents the gap in seconds between me and the winner.
This next shot is the return leg. Where the purple line drops below the black line, I am ahead at the part of the course.
But what does this mean, why did I lose a minute on the outbound leg? Generally a steady loss of time like this is due to the other rider just being plain faster than you. However if this was the case he would have gained another minute on me during the return leg. My visor issues meant I soft pedalled and sat up several times during the outbound leg. This will contribute to a loss of momentum and CdA but is unlikely to equal an entire minute of time loss. Whilst there are dozens of other variables at play, i’d guess that a large part of our difference in speed was due to our difference in power/weight. There is more climbing in the outbound leg of this course and so being gravitationally challenged works against me. Every time the road goes uphill I haemorrhage time. The return leg confirms this when looking at the 0.5 to 1.0 miles section.
Seeing that my power is there but i’m losing to the competition because of weight gives me a great focus for the next month of training… weight loss. Analysing your performance is pointless unless you make changes based on what you’ve learnt. Of course, we all know Christmas is the perfect time to avoid binge eating and drinking…. KILL ME NOW.
Have a closer look at how to plod up hills here: https://www.strava.com/activities/804584061/overview
Thanks for reading and as always please get in touch with any coaching or training questions. I’d love to hear from you.
PS, this time next week it will be Christmas!!