Today the legs felt better but I wasn’t feeling 100% in the morning as the intense breathing from the effort on day one had left my throat in a pain. Riding at vo2 max in a low humidity environment clearly isn’t great for the body…
Fortunately my slot was at ~4pm so I’d have the day to try and get over it with lots of cold soothing cans of coke. Unfortunately, the firm appeared to shut off the air-con and turn the office into an oven for the day in an attempt to fine tune our bodies to working in an overheated environment. Specifity.
I held the lead at the end of day one with 11.71km but knew that more would be needed. That distance would’ve placed 6th overall last year, and I know there are lawyers out there with serious power. The competition is based on absolute power (as opposed to watts/kg of bodyweight) and therefore favours larger riders. I know plenty of people who would destroy me in a wattbike race – luckily they aren’t lawyers (except Rory – his firm was busy raising money riding a 315mile GPS heli-pad on London – awesome!).
Anyway, this was to be my’all out’ effort where I’d try and go at a pace I’ve never done before and risk blowing up before my 15 minutes were done. There would be no ‘easing in’ to the effort – I would get straight up to speed, hang on for dear life and hope to see 15 minutes pass before my legs fail.
The target was to average 390w after doing 379w on day one. This turned out to be exactly what I achieved:
The first 5 minutes passed relatively quickly but I soon realised that it was going to be a very painful ride. The power felt fine to hold initially and I was riding a slightly higher resistance / lower cadence today (104rpm compared to 110rpm yesterday). My heart rate escalated to the unhappier side of 200bpm after 6 minutes (5 minutes earlier than yesterday) and decided to go ahead and do its own thing, hitting 216bpm by the end. The heat was again unbearable – I was squirting water from my bottle all over the place to try and stay cool.
I remember looking at the distance covered at 5 minutes and 10 minutes in and struggling to do the maths to work out what distance I was on pace for – 11.something was all I could manage. I was holding about 385w average at 10 minutes in and I decided I needed to make a final push to add some distance and agreed with myself that 3 minutes was ‘doable’. Those are the 3 minutes that matter most and everyone is hurting by that point. I was taught to imagine everyone else riding at the same time, feeling the same pain and that if I push myself even further it will make everyone else hurt even more. Make them hurt!
The last minutes were a blur – I mostly had my eyes closed to shut out the pain. I knew I had paced the ride well when I tried to sprint at the end but my legs said no, we have nothing left. I had absolutely nothing to go with.
The 15 minutes were up – 11.84km complete – and my focus changed to not spoiling the ride by being sick! I had just ticked over 390w average, which is a lifetime power PB for 15 minutes. I’m very happy with that as like a time trial on a local course, the TdL has been a regular testing ground for me at the end of the season. If I can keep beating my previous best power records – great, I’m progressing. If I win fastest overall, that’s a bonus as I’ve always come 3rd or 4th before [TdL confirm the results tomorrow].
It’s been a great 2 days of cycling, chatting about cycling, eating cake and raising money for a good cause. Lots of people are talking about the TdL outside of law – I’ve had it mentioned to me on both evenings when riding laps in Regent’s Park. For now though, it’s time to put all this steady state riding to good use in hill climb season. October is set to be very, very hilly, starting with UHC @ Swain’s Lane on Saturday and hopefully Catford and Bec two weeks after. Maybe a trip to the mountains also…
Thanks for reading.