Written by SE athlete Andrew Ennis
A century ride, ride tour de France climb, win a road race…as cyclists we all have a bucket list of things we would love to do or achieve. One of the most popular and on my bucket list, was to do a sub 1hr 25mi (40k) time trail. At 138lbs and more of a punchy climber/sprinter by nature the idea of doing a concentrated hard hour-long effort was I though beyond my reach.
I signed back up with Adam a year ago, returning to focused training after a typical life pressures break. We had a lot of work to do, to get back to my level when in Texas. Now living and racing in northern Scotland, the race demands are significantly different from Texas, races are; longer, much hillier, mixed category and typically feature a grinding down attrition effect. Climbs are still punchy but now steeper or several miles long. Getting to the finish in a fresh state to be competitive was the first training goal. In my discussions with Adam I set a specific goal: I wanted to achieve a bucket list of a sub hour 25m TT. Adam changed my training program accordingly, matching it to racing demands and accommodating my TT goal. The transformation from punchy rider to TTer is not an easy one. 2017 was spent with some racing but mainly an increasing sustained power ability and conditioning phase, interrupted by a “on the right track” late 2017 win in the amateur Aberdeen stage of the UK tour criterium series (photo above) and a top place in a local 10m TT.
A characteristic ability change is a long process and the Scottish winter is also long, let just say 2x20min steady state intervals on the turbo trainer will never be forgotten. Nor will the riding at high speed on the winter roads, dodging ice and suffering the stinging hail. As the dark winter months progressed it was tough to stay on track, progress occasionally confirmed by threshold notifications from training peaks and Adam’s weekly phone calls of assurance.
Roll forward to April 2018, weather improving, the first regional 25m TT “The Easter Bunny”. On a not typically mild spring day, its time to roll out the TT bike. The location of the event allows a ride there to warm up. I arrive 15mins before my start time, number on and ride to the start. Wind is a slight 7mph head wind and it’s a rolling uphill to the turn around. Power alarm on the Garmin is set just below the 20min interval powers with a plan to go out and climb slightly harder and then with the tail wind and rolling down hill to get any recovery needed. The route is a very regular riding route so I know every bend, grade, windy and sheltered part of the course and can visualize every effort.
The first 5 minutes is always for free as adrenaline numbs the senses, but staying to power is key so I ride off my power meter not my eager legs. The road is rolling, so its +30W uphill’s, -30W down from the target power. After not much time I catch and pass my minute man, always a morale booster.
On the climbs I focus on power delivery, on the flatter and downhill sections focusing on staying in power zone and holding the aero position. At the turn around I’m feeling comfortable, ease off, take a drink and get back on it. Speed is now much higher, the legs ache from change to high cadence power delivery required by the down hills but soon settle down. 20 miles done, the mind starts to fatigue and I’m thankful of the Garmin beeping to remind me to keep at it.
The last 2 miles are a climb then a short descent to the finish, so is full gas, as I crest the hill I know it’s only a short distance to go, I take my eyes off the road ahead, looking right far up the road to locate the finish line. Boom, boom I hit a pothole and instantly the rear goes flat and the front is hissing, fortunately with the downhill gradient I can maintain a good speed. I cross the line annoyed at my bad luck, but I check the Garmin 58:49!!!! I am delighted, score that one off the bucket list. Of course you instantly add a new one; can I do a 55min 25m TT?,,, “Adam we have a new target”…such is the way with sports….Thanks Adam couldn’t have done it without you.