As I hinted at in my last blog post, I still have a few end-of-season goals I would like to fulfill.
One of them was to maintain my 2nd cat British Cycling licence. Although I am pretty sure I have turned into a dedicated tester now, I would like to keep my options open. Winning 25 points this year in order to maintain the licence seems easier than dropping down to third cat and trying to get 40 points next year in order to go back up to 2nd cat again (see link for explanation of road racing licence categories). As women’s cycling is quickly growing in numbers, I do feel that races accessible to 2nd cat riders are possibly safer than a field of 3rd and 4th cat riders. That said, I am not the most skilled rider myself and sometimes wish I could attend some of the women’s training session organised for novices by the likes of Huw Williams etc. But, for now I can relax again as I managed to secure 25 points this year. They were small local races, but still a first, second and third place got me what I needed within the minimum of races. Interestingly both the first and last race (at Preston Park and Hillingdon respectively) were mostly a 2-up TT and I therefore actually enjoyed them (thanks Helen Ralston and Abbie Dentus). The second race was a typical negative ‘sit in the bunch, nobody wants to let anything get away, but nobody wants to/can work hard enough to make a break stick either’ kind of race… and I quickly got bored and lost interest. I am still not 100% sure on hanging up my crit and road racing wheels, and might well try a bit again next year, but on balance I think I have found my niche and also found where my heart lies: time trialling!
Another end-of-season goal is to ‘do a Steve Irwin’ (fellow club member) and clean sweep our club TT records. I am making good progress (see image) and hope to add the final ones (10 mile and 30 mile) too before the year is over. My first opportunity to ride a proper fast course (F11/10 near Tring on the Bank Holiday Monday) was unfortunately lost as it poured so heavily all day that the organiser wisely cancelled the event. So fingers crossed the weather plays ball next time…
What is not apparent from the image is that some of the records I broke had been standing since the mid-1990s (e.g. the 50 mile record stood at 2:01:33 since 1996 and the 100 mile record stood at 4:17:15 since the same year). I am very pleased to have broken those, but in all honestly it could just be that in all that time no woman ever seriously tried to have a go at them. I vainly hope that at least some of my records will last a similar amount of time … 😉
Bar two seconds, I haven’t yet managed to break the 10 mile club record that was set by Maryka last year on the F11/10 at 22:10. However, I have been very close on slower courses, so hopefully once I get to ride a fast course on a good day I will not only be able to add that record but also clock a ‘21’ for a 10 mile TT. The nearest I have come to date is a 22:12 set last weekend on the H10/181 course near Oxford. I quite like the course. It is not a ‘gift’ course (see image) as the outward leg is mostly uphill and also the longer stretch (about 5.6 mile).
Last weekend the conditions were far from ideal with heavy rain at the start of the event (but I was lucky and found a bus shelter to do my turbo warm up) and the wind running in the ‘wrong’ direction (i.e. a headwind on the outward leg and a tailwind coming back). If the wind had been in the opposite direction it could have been quite a bit faster I reckon as the tailwind on the way out would have ‘flattened’ the inclines. On hindsight, I probably should have opted for my shallow front wheel (24mm) or even invest in say a 35mm wheel as an intermediate option, because I found the deep section front wheel a bit difficult to handle in the wind (resulting in zero observation of power and pace and just focusing on staying upright). I am still not sure how much more time might be gained because of the additional aero benefits of a deeper wheel vs. time lost fighting the wind and holding back on downhill stretches with cross wind. Still, I managed to shave off 20 seconds from the last time I rode this course (at the end of May) and in doing so got my first ever course record, shaving 8 seconds off Rachael Elliott’s time set in April 2013 (I am sure she’ll get it back once she is out on the TT bike again). Thinking about it, I am actually not sure what the female course record would be on the G10/42 North Holmwood course…
Finally, what I first took as a bit of a joke when Steve Irwin suggested it after the ECCA100 in June, is now actually a goal: I would very much like to win the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) competition. This is a season-long competition which records female TT rider’s fastest times over qualifying events of 25, 50, and 100 miles (for the men the distance achieved in a 12 hour TT event is included instead of a 25 mile TT time). The rider with the fastest average mph over the three distances is declared the winner. In the past the BBAR has been won by some truly exceptional riders including Beryl Burton (25 times!) and Julia Shaw (4 times, including a record average of 27.451 mph).
I am most definitely not comparing myself to them and of course the result is not a true average of a person’s combined best endeavors (as this is a time-based competition and very much influenced by course profile, weather conditions etc.). I am well aware that I am a) not the best and b) not an all-rounder, but winning it would be a great surprise outcome of my first season on a TT bike (which I didn’t even dare to ride for the first few events of the year) and a very sweet solace to the disappointment of failing my main goal of winning the National 12hr.
So far, I have done a 56.46 for a 25 mile, 01:51:37 for a 50 mile and 04:01:11 for a 100 mile, which makes an average of 26.060 mph ahead of the winner of the last two years Paula Moseley who currently has an average of 25.739 for the 2014 season. BUT… and it is a big but, the season is not over yet. There are still quite a few events until the end of September (when the competition ends) and a lot can still happen between now and then. Not only can Paula still do some strong rides, but equally some of the really fast girls like Hayley Simmonds or professionals like Sarah Storey could decide to have a go at a longer event and completely wipe the floor. I have no idea what will happen but one way to improve my average would be to try to do a ‘55’ for a 25 mile TT… oh yes another goal to add to the list 😉 Ambitious? Yes, but I am also learning the very valuable lesson that (to quote a friend) “perspective is an important companion to ambition”. Looking back at what I have already achieved this year, I can be pretty pleased … realising these final additional goals would be the icing on the cake… (and I LOVE cake!)
OK, time to wake up from all that daydreaming. Back to reality and getting my butt seriously kicked by some very speedy ladies at the National 10m TT this weekend!