28
Jan

2016 Cycling Season in Review

Wow, 12 months with no posts. Hopefully I’ll do a bit better than that in 2017, but I think we all know how it will end up.

As I said in my 2015 season review, perhaps my 2015 goals were a touch ambitious, and as a result my 2016 goals were just about incremental on that. They were:

  • 10s. Achievable: 21:xx. Stretch: sub 21:30.
  • 25s. Achievable: 55:xx. Stretch: 54:xx.
  • 50s. Achievable: sub 2-hours. Stretch: sub 1:57:38 (25.5mph average).
  • La Marmotte. Place similarly to the Etape – top 10% or so.
  • Hill Climbs. Retain my Wheelers Club Champion status. Train for them properly.
  • Overall. Plan the season better, with space for specific training between TTs and HCs.

Overall, I hit 4 out of the 6 (if you count 10.2% as “10% or so”…), which isn’t too bad all in all.

Early Season

As usual, my season started with sporting TTs. However, this year I had the added complication of buying a flat, and so my winter and early season was generally consumed with estate agents, solicitors, and decorating. As a result, I only actually made it to a single sporting TT, the Kingston Wheelers Sporting 14. This was the third time I’d completed the event, and progress seemed good. My times have been 37:19 (2014), 35:47 (2015), and 34:43 (2016). Early signs for the season were good!

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Open TTs

My season ended up being very light on open TTs: I completed only one 10, two 25s, and two 50s. Life got in the way a bit this year unfortunately. The 25s were little to write home about; I improved my PB from 56:51 to 56:26, but a way off the 55:xx, which I still think should be easily achievable for me.

I had better luck in the other disciplines. At the Charlotteville CC 50 on H50/8, I achieved my 50 goal, stopping the clock in :158:48. To top it all off, the photographer got some cracking shots of me…

James Griffin MA5D3-0355

In my only 10 of the year, I gave it all. Luckily, it was a good day on a good course, and I smashed through my 21:xx target, achieving a 20:51. I almost caught my minute-woman, Julia Shaw, too. Being seeded early meant there was a time at the HQ when I was third on the leaderboard which was nice!

La Marmotte

What a fantastic event. I made the decision to drive down rather than faff with airlines and bus transfers, which meant a pretty stress-free trip down to my AirBnB apartment atop Alpe d’Huez. A fairly easy spin the day before was capped with a ascent of the Alpe which was perhaps too energetic. On the day, however, I couldn’t get in the mindset. Sitting on the start line felt like I was waiting for the Sunday Club Run to start, such was the lack of adrenaline. The stresses of life were getting to me at this point and annoyingly it really affected my performance on the day.

The weather was changeable – warm and dry on one side of the valley, raining on the other. I opted for a Gabba, which whilst uncomfortable in the warmth paid dividends on the descents thanks to being windproof. About halfway through I hooked up with a guy in Matt Bottrill team kit, and figured he’d be a good wheel to follow. Of course, he was a bit too strong for my tiny legs and I let him slide away half-way up the Galibier.

Finishing on Alpe d’Huez was fantastic, and after a quick shower and protein shake I enjoyed a couple of beers on the main street, watching the riders flock in. I’d finished in 7:19 (7:40 if you include the descent of the Glandon), which put me 687th of 6,680 finishers, just outside my 10% target. I feel I have unfinished business on the Marmotte and will be back for sure.

Hill Climbs

One of my biggest learnings from 2015 was from how poorly I adjusted my training between Open TTs and HCs. This year, I started shorter effort work with a month to go before the first Hill Climb. I did the regular Kingston Wheelers climb on Leith Hill, plus the classic Catford & Bec double-header. I PB’d on Leith Hill by a handful of seconds, but nowhere near enough to retain my club award as I was thoroughly smashed by Alex Reid who was a good 15 seconds quicker!

Catford and Bec were fantastic. The atmosphere at these events is just so good – riding through the crowds at the top of the hills is such a rush. I was pleased with my times, both around 2:28, and will definitely be back next year, but hopefully with better pacing strategies!

2017

I decided late last year to sign up for coaching in order to see how that would progress my cycling. Since November, I’ve been coached by Chris McNamara at Trainsharp, who gave me two solid months of leg strength work following some testing I did with them. I’ve been impressed with how I’ve felt throughout the three blocks we’ve done – I’m being pushed but it’s well balanced with rest, and each training session feels different. Fingers crossed it produces some cracking results this year.

I’ve also signed up for the Maratona dles Dolomites with the gang, so that’s my primary target for the year. Goals, then, are:

  • 10s. A short 20:xx. Stretch goal, 19:xx.
  • 25s. Finally, finally go sub 55:xx.
  • 50s. 1:55:xx.
  • Maratona. Top 7% of finishers, stretch goal of top 5%.
  • 100s. I may give one of these a go this year.
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