June 4, 2019 at 4:08 pm #1523749
On Saturday I also took part in the UCI Grand Fondo Chrono/TT in the age group 40-44. It is a qualification event for the Amateur World Championship. Last year most members of the Avanti squad qualified in the road race so I wanted to try my luck in the TT even though it looked unlikely when I saw the start sheet and looked up these guys on Strava. Best guys were around 50min in a 25-mile TT with average power around 350-375W meaning a hill impossible to climb (for me).
I did a decent amount of training in the winter but in April and May the life got in the way of cycling and I spent a limited amount of time on the bike. However, I wasn’t really bothered because even with the best block of training I wouldn’t really stand much chance to qualify with such a strong field.
I collected my number in the morning, walked around the venue and I still had good 90min before the start. I did a proper warm-up and joined the queue by the starting ramp. We were sent on the course in 20sec intervals and as luck would have it, I struggled to clip in in this short allocated time. I started to panic but one of the marshals just told to take it easy, not to panic and I was off in no time.
The course was a nice mix of everything, Sharp corners, nice long fast stretches, one short punchy climb, a technical twisty section and a long windy upward drag. It was 16.5 miles so somewhere between our inter-club 10s and open 25s. The best bit was that it was all on CLOSED ROADS!
For the first time this year I felt good on the TT bike and I was able to put down more power than in the previous two 25-mile TTs in May. All in all it was a good progress after two months on and off the bike.
In the end I came in the middle of the 500-strong field (not completely rubbish but not great either) which is in line with my expectations and TT skills. . The time trialling scene in the UK is one of the best in Europe and given the high price tag for this event, the field was biased to stronger riders,
It was a great experience and a great day on the bike! Certainty not the best time trialist but looking at the photos of me in the skinsuit in Avanti colours one of the best-dressed time trialist. 😀
After the finish there was no time to spare and I had to rush to one of lovely Essex airports to pick up my family after a week away during the term holidays. From a professional setup of the UCI Grand Fondo TT back to everyday reality in no time. But it was worth it and I will do it all over again next year,
Over and out.
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June 2, 2019 at 9:56 pm #1523744
Yesterday I took part in the Tour of Cambridgeshire Chrono, a closed roads Time trial which is a qualifying round for the “Gran Fondo World Championships” (Previously the amateur World Champs) in which the top 25% of each age category qualify for the championships to be held in Poland this September. This is the race I’ve been training for the whole season, and is the main reason you won’t have seen me out on the club rides much so far this year!
As soon as I saw the start sheet I knew it was going to be a tough ask to make it into the top 25% of the 18-35 category, as only 48 had entered (many, more had entered the veteran groups) which made me suspect that the high entry cost (£67!!!) had put off all but those who thought they were in with a chance for qualifying.
As this was my main target race of the year I decided to travel up the night before and stay overnight locally instead of having to stress about trains early in the morning. Unfortunately I managed to leave my Avanti mitts at Peterborough station whilst putting my cycling shoes on for the trip across town- D-Oh!
Fortunately getting to the start wasn’t anywhere near as difficult, and being close by meant it was a relaxed sign on to collect my starters pack with race numbers and timing chips.
Marek was racing just under an hour after me, and we met just before I had to start my warm up.
This TT is quite unlike any others you’re likely to find in the UK, and the start has a very professional feel to it. The organisers had hired about 50 turbo trainers next to the start ramp in the arena, and some mechanics from Rutland Cycles to help set your bike up so you can have a proper warm up on a turbo before your start slot.
A local charity was also organizing a bag drop right next to the start too so you could safely leave your belongings.
One of the negative aspects about the race was that they were setting off riders every 20s, which made for a hectic start. You get put into a queue about 2 mins before your start time, with odd and even numbers set on opposite sides of the ramp. There weren’t any even numbers near my start which helped calm things a little.
The course is interesting, and although in a relatively flat part of the country is best described as ‘sporting’. You come down the ramp onto a 90 degree right hand bend on the tiles of the arena to go out of warehouse style doors onto the access road outside. You do quite a few sharp turns before you leave the showground and finally reach the road outside the showground that you ride both ways- a lovely wide A-road with good surface and few undulations. I had my first rider overtake me about 20s before turning off of the main road, and they came past like I was standing still despite me pushing slightly over my 10TT pace. All too soon you turn left onto a country road that it divided in two, with riders coming back the other way on the other side- it is well coned though so not too much danger of collisions. However, although there aren’t any real potholes there sere several sections where the groove worn into the road by cars became so cambered the road surface might as well have been on two separate levels which meant you really had to keep your concentration to avoid it on such a narrow section.
After about a mile you turn left onto the square around slightly better surfaced and wider country lanes which are not split in half. You are also immediately confronted with the first real climb up past a telecoms tower, which isn’t very high but was steep enough to have me in my lowest gear and out of the saddle- think the gradient of the steep section at the bottom of Cudham lane and make it about 100m long and you’ve got an idea of how disruptive it is to your pace!
Coming down off of this takes your into a fast corner, which is followed almost right away by a chicane. Although the rouse map suggests there are very few corners on the course in reality there are lots of chevroned bends all along the country road section and through a village. Near the end of the one way square part of the course you make a second climb, this time it’s more of a false flat that slows you gradually- but when you reach the crest and look out over the country below you realise you have gained quite a lot of height. Near the beginning of this section I had another rider blow past me, but I also came past 2 other riders who seemed to be struggling a little. The height you just gained you lose very quickly on a fast, arrow straight descent down towards the turn that will take you back onto the horrid 2-way country lane before the main road home.
It was on this last climb I was overtaken by a second rider, and although they came past at a reasonable pace they seemed to slow slightly once in front which made for a very frustrating overtake up the climb- but they came back past just before the start of the narrow lane.
By this point I knew I would probably burn too many of my remaining candles to overtake them again, but did match their pace all the way to the main road at which point they slowly disapeared up the road. By this point the ‘iron lung’ was starting to set in as my cardio system was being pushed to it’s limits, and although I couldn’t match my target power on the final run in I was doing my level best to keep it as high as I could without blowing up completely.
Frustratingly you then have to make a series of turns on the roundabouts and in the showground to get to the finishing straight, which is not really how I would choose to end a TT. Having to ease up for the corners did allow me to recover enough to sprint for the line though.
I thought I had done reasonably well, as despite being cautious on the tight bends everything else seemed good- the effort was pretty much spot on with what I can physically push out over that time, and I managed to hold onto the aero position even at the fastest speeds away from the bends, which I had been struggling with previously.
When the scores came out it turned out I’d beaten my time from 4 years ago by 90s, but I’d been pretty well mullered by the competition, finishing 30th of 48 in my category and much further down the rankings than I’d hoped, even if I thought it would be a long shot to be in the top 25% itself.
On the bright side as I was getting ready to ride back to the station I made the acquaintance of another youngish rider. I asked him how he got on, and when he said he didn’t know I let him see the picture of the scores tacked to the wall inside I had on my phone and he said he’d actually won it. his friend who came over had a puncture, and was the rider I’d seen walking back towards a marshal point. The winner told me he is originally from Poland (but now living in Coventry with his team mate) which was why he was keen to qualify for the Amateur Worlds this year. He also told me that the preparations for the Chrono event are also going really badly at the moment and that they are struggling to find a suitable course for it, so it might not be all bad that I can’t race in it after all.
In all it’s a pretty interesting experience with the closed roads and the professional feeling start. If you can stomach the high entry cost and enjoy time trialling then you’ll probably enjoy it.
However, if you want the proper pro treatment I’d suggest looking at the Duo Normand 2-up TT in Normandy in September. That is a genuine UCI race that anyone can enter (and in theory pick up UCI points if they have a race license) where you can have a friend drive a support car behind you on a much longer sporting course. I’m hoping to go again this year and will be trying to see if we can stay with my old club who have hire out a chateau for the weekend and have a great time 🙂
- This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Sam :D.
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