For the Early May bank holiday I travelled up to Kendal to compete in the Shap Hill Climb.
It was a glorious day with near perfect conditions. Unfortunately my build-up to the event wasn’t quite as nice as the weather.
In the end I managed to walk away with a tenth place. Knowing that I was nowhere near peak condition.
On paper the Shap climb suits me nicely. In the weeks leading up to the Time Trial I was riding the best I had all year. I was looking forward to it because this would be my first chance to competed against some of the big contenders for the National Hill Climb in October. Both Tejvan Pettinger (a previous winner), and James Gullen (who came in second to Tejvan) were also at Shap looking to put in strong effort.
It wasn’t to be my day though.
I’m a bit disheartened because this was the first event I really wanted to do well in…
Stupidly I crashed a few weeks back and am still recovering. I just don’t have the level of fitness I imagined I would at this point and it’s for that reason I decided against using the Time Trial bike for this event. I knew I would have a more comfortable ride on my standard road bike setup. Which I hoped would mean I could hold a higher power throughout the effort.
The compromise was on speed. The road bike just wouldn’t be as fast.
I did the 7 mile climb in 19 minutes 42 seconds at a speed of 21mph. The average grade is only 2% but there are some downhill sections thrown in. I was really trying not to go out too hard and kept telling myself to back off but I don’t think I listened. Taking it easier at the start and keeping something in the tank for later is one of the most difficult parts of time trialling.
My aim was to finish with an average power of somewhere between 300w and 310w. According to my power meter I did 293w for the 19min 42sec. Not great, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t try. My heart rate was 187bpm average and 192bpm max for the effort! (My absolute max is 198bpm). So as you can imagine it was an absolute sufferfest.
I do believe if I wasn’t recovering from the crash I could’ve done the 310w average though. I also believe the power reading is a little lower than you’d expect for the effort. This is partly because my power meter is left leg only. That just so happens to be the leg I’ve injured and my pedalling on that side is a little laboured right now. I think since the crash my right leg is doing a lot more work than normal. It’s also a weakness of mine in general. I have a slight drop in the left hip and it’s something I hope to work on in the future. Who knows, maybe because of the injury it’s going to come back stronger than ever! Another factor to consider is that the course wasn’t always uphill. There were a number of small descents where I would soft-pedal at below 200w. If I had paced better I could perhaps have pushed harder going down and kept power at the upper end of tempo perhaps but it wasn’t easy! And I was already spinning out the gears.
Time Trial Bike Vs Road Bike
It’s interesting to see what a huge difference the Time Trial bike makes over these fast courses. Even when they’re up hill. Take a look at the predictions below. These were done pre-race and the results are scarily accurate. My actual result and power within seconds of the estimated time.
Road Bike (actual result)
With the help of some nifty software I was able to predict my time using the standard road bike and the power I produced.
TT Bike (predicted result)
Which means you could assume a similar effort on the Time Trial bike would’ve seen me do the climb a little quicker.
That would’ve bumped me up to 7th place and taken a minute off my time. It just goes to show how much quicker a Time Trial bike really is. And, had I really been on form and hit my target of 310w riding the Time Trial Bike I would’ve made the top 5. Still not enough to win, but a little closer to my ‘rivals’.
Oh well, there’s always next year. One thing’s clear though, I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be near Tejvan and James come October. There’ve been a few setbacks recently but I’m definitely on the up. And with the help of Transition I’m convinced I’ll get there.
One good thing to have come out of the weekend is the fantastic new picture on the front page of http://rossmalpass.co.uk/.