The last event of the club season would be an event I was due to do well in. I like hills strangely enough but I suppose all the training on them does that. But being a TT is would just be me against the clock to determine what could be done to get up the hill.
At 3.5km, the hill isn’t exactly the worlds longest. And will a flattish section and a small descent at the beginning, the overall time would be quickish, probably comparable to the Boards TT up Howth last week.
Reading anything about warmups tells you that the shorter the event, the more of a warmup you need to do. When I started cycling, it was mainly sportives that I did. Long sportives that we would cycle to a from. Averaging 200km plus would be normal for the day. Nothing says warm up like a 2 hour cycle to an event.
But this left me slightly out of wack this year with different events. La Marmotte for instance had a 1km cycle to the start, if even, but then is was a 175km cycle so a warm up wasn’t too necessary. With the races, it was always a case of try to do as much as possible and then hold on let what happens happen.
For a sub 10 minute all out effort, I would need to be warm. 15 minutes riding around didn’t do enough so it was on with the gillet and a quick run up the hill to get properly warm. In hind sight, perhaps doing a near TT effort for a warm up was probably not the best of ideas.
The Moment of Truth
My stomach decided it wasn’t going to co-operate as usual coming up to the event with the last 10 minutes of the warm spent in quite a bit of pain. Someday I’ll get it sorted, honest, the doctors just need to identify what is causing it. Luckily, the standing around just before the off seemed to let it settle.
I lined up and experienced being held for the first time. Honestly it is a strange experience and I really thought I was going to fall off.
5, 4, 3, 2 ,1, go...
And off I went. Immediately there was a problem as the low sun meant I couldn’t read my Garmin. So much for trying to limit my power at the start so I would fall apart as usual midway. It was near 2 minutes in before the screen became visible but with a flatish start before the slight descent, it was all out.
Once the hill started up, I settled in and kept just below threshold. Enough to feel the burn in the background, but not enough to actually burn. It is times like these that I really should be watching my power, and someday I will learn to.
At the 2km mark, the inevitable happened. As usual I dropped off a little before recovering. Luckily it was helped by someone as the side cheering us on. Honestly, the best part of the league has been constant support for everyone. Getting cheered on really feels great. One of my greatest memories in cycling still remains finishing the 2009 Wicklow 200, arriving back into UCD to the claps and cheers just before the line. What a way to complete a day.
The last km of the climb before the turn went on longer than I thought. Watching the time clock up on the Garmin really made me feel like I was going much too slow. But seeing that Marshall at the turn made me push harder and again the cheers and shouts. Up out of the saddle and pushing hard as possible on the steep uphill to the finish. All the time, trying not to lose much speed as I clicked through the gears.
And across the line.
I stopped the clock at 7:44 something on my Garmin. Close enough that the second screen said 7:45. David who had gone before me had timed himself and said he got 7:45 which meant I was in contention. And he pointed out the line was the first cone, not the one I had stopped at, so a few seconds off my time. But seeing some of the others come across the finish makes you wonder just how fast you have been.
Javan Nulty was in a TT helmet and warmed up on a turbo. He looked very fast coming across the line. And with a time of 6:59, he was fast. Full results available on the Swords CC website. But when all was said and done, I ended 3rd with a official time of 7:40. Only beaten by Javan, the visitor champion, and Henry who came second overall in the league. Not a bad result.
But I’m not happy with it. I should have been faster. I could have been. I guess it can be put down to inexperience. Yes I’m getting better. I’m not as strong as I was for the Marmotte, but that is the cost of periodisation. The goal is the manage the efforts full on without the drop in the middle.
Time: 7:45 (Garmin – Official Time 7:40)
Avg Speed: 27.7km/h
Avg Power: 382watts
Normalised Power: 370watts (first time I’ve seen this lower than the average)