Today was the ECCA 100. I have won the event in the past two years, and this year promised to be faster times because the course had been moved to all dual-carriageway on the A11 and A14 south of Cambridge. I was looking forward to the event because in recent weeks I’ve had good form, set some pbs, made some significant aero improvements and the weather forecast looked very good with low air pressure and low wind.
In fact, I tried to add up all the potential time savings in the past 12 months – watts of drag saving, faster course, better form, low air pressure, new special waxed from watt shop. On the back of an envelope, I calculated all these factors, using the formula of ’20 seconds gain per 40km per watt of drag reduction’ and I came up with a time of 3.14. Marvellous! perhaps I should have just stayed at home and stayed with my virtual time. It’s wonderful what you can learn from the internet and a bit of ‘positive thinking’. If only riding a 100 mile time trials were as easy as writing a ‘back of a fag packet’ calculation.
Because the start was very early, I stayed overnight at a Travelodge, conveniently on Four Went Ways roundabout. I was able to leave a spare bottle by roundabout just in case.
The first drama came with getting to the start. I was under impression it was 2 miles or so, but when it didn’t appear, my gentle ride to the start got faster and faster. With three minutes to go and no startline in view, I was doing a 10 mile TT pace to try and make it. I became resigned to missing my start, but rather than panicking I kept pushing harder on the pedals and I managed to get to the startline, just as the time keeper said ‘Five seconds to go’! I still had to removed a jacket and coat, but somehow managed to avoid a late start. This happened earlier in season getting to the start line of Beacon RC with 20 seconds to go, but this was a new record that I don’t want to ever get close to again. To be fair, I wasn’t the only one who turned up to the start timekeeper in the nick of time, including my minute man, who fared similarly.
I started the 100 mile TT, pretty much where I left off – doing a 10 mile TT pace. Since getting a new power meter, I have found it is a little untrustworthy – giving inflated power figures, so I ignored the readings of 320 watts and powered on, hoping to get close to that forecast ‘back of an envelope’ predicted time. After 10 miles, I had calmed down and got into a good rhythm, but heading back south I realised this was not quite as easy as it looked on paper.
Despite ‘float’ conditions and all that, I found it a really tough 100 miles. I was suffering from 20 miles in, which is never a good sign. My hands were so cold (I get cold hands easily, but don’t think to wear gloves mid June), I had difficulty getting the bottle out of my rear-mounted bottle cage. During the race I had two gels, but my frozen hands could barely rip it open, and as usual half the gel went in my face, on the bike, but only a small percentage in my mouth. There must be a dignified, efficient way to eat a gel in a race, but I’ve yet to find it.
Like all 100 mile TT, the effort and speed ebbed and flowed. Increasing traffic throughout the morning partly compensating for the decline in power. Throughout the race, I kept revising down expectations, and in the end settled for trying to set a pb, which I managed to do by a couple of seconds.
It seems a bit churlish to be disappointed on a day in which you set a pb for 100 miles and manage to average 28.1 mph for 100 miles, but that’s the strange world of time trials for you.
The best thing about the race was paying for delayed checkout at Travelodge and going back for 1 hour kip after race before going to Cambridge for a concert.
Every race is a good experience in a certain way, and it was certainly a cautionary tale for next weekend when I make a step into the unknown with the National 12 hour time trial championship. Whatever happens, I don’t think I’ll start off with a 10 mile TT effort. Comfort will be much higher on the agenda if I am to survive 12 hours on the bike.
Sincere thanks to volunteers and marshalls of the Eastern Counties Cycling Association for putting on great race, with excellent signs and marshalling.
Average power: 276 watts (which would be all time power pb)
- Water took 1.5l of High 5 concentrated. I drank about 1.2l
- Took 2 isotonic gels, though didn’t manage to consume all of them.
- Temp 12 degrees for first couple of hours,
- Air pressure: low
Also, congrats to all the riders who posted some very quick times.
- Richard Bideau Pendle Forest CC 3:22:16
- Liam Maybank Twickenham CC 3:25:28
- Peter Harrison G.S. Henley 3:28:17
- Stephen Irwin North Lancs RC 3:28:25
- Jon Wynn T1 Diabetes.info 3:32:50
- Daniel Bloy Team Velovelocity 3:33:24
- Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team 3:34:02
- Dave Green Team Velovelocity 3:37:01
- Colin Ward Essex Roads CC 3:37:35
- Gavin Hinxman Kettering CC 3:38:02
Top three ladies
- Alice Lethbridge (W) Starley Racing 3:57:34
- Katja Rietdorf (W) Born to Bike 4:04:26
- Eleanor Haresign (W) Harrogate Nova CC 4:11:32