Thursday, 23 February 2012

The End Is Near

Post track 'accident' activities were more common than expected. Although it was difficult to walk, pedalling in circles proved to be more fruitful. A quick turbo session on Tuesday felt ok so I decided to go to the Velodrome on Wednesday for the Paul Taylor Memorial SQT. ( PT was a leading coach for Manchester Velodrome and Rochdale Tri club who sadly passed away not long ago after losing his battle with cancer). Initially I wasn't going to ride as in the morning I was very stiff, painful to walk and had no motivation.
Limping up to the riders 'D' I stalked a coach to pick up my track bike from Sunday so I could assess how rideable and what, if any damage.  Luckily there was a tiny scratch on the downtube, barends came off and the front wheel was a little out of true.  Unbelieveable. There was a bigger than I expected turnout and thought I'd give it a go to assess the damge to myself and the bike. Now was a good a time as any. No pressure, nice and easy riding, worthwhile.
Thursday 16th Feb went out for a ride which I dont remember and had to look at records to see what I did.Just an easy pootle by the looks of it then back to commuting on the Fri and Sat. Since Sunday looked like it could be nice I took the commutes easy but were long, amassing 115miles in 2 days.

Sunday 19th February

Not participated in a Sunday ride for a while and looking at the forecast it would be 'windless', dry (humidity wise) sunny and warm. It turned out to be totally false!!! It was blowing a gale, freezing, very humid with sunny spells. Luckily the roads were bone dry and it gave me the opportunity to try out my new bike. This is bike number 5  and is a second hand frame from a forum. A Focus Culebro Tria 2009. The frame is tiny, super low headtube, aero profiling, the white looks amazing and it is alloy so not especially light. What better way to test it out than on some lovely hills. I have fitted SRAM Apex rear mech with a 12-32 cassette as my sportive/audax super hilly climbing bike, bit strange for an ex TT frame.
As soon as I pedalled the first few strokes I thought this is going to be slow. The humidity artificially increases my heartrate, restricts my breathing and Im sure for some unexplainable scientific fact makes the air like sludge. The wind was swirly and  brisk from the North North West which meant it was also feeling bitterly cold.  I really couldn't be bothered and wanted to turn around but looking at the speeds I was doing in my super dooper aero psoition  without too much effort made me smirk....a little. Lets see what  this baby can do in less than favourable conditions.

I approached Blackstone Edge cautiously, saving my energy for an expected head/cross wind. About a quarter way up I opened up the taps and began to set a reasonable pace from where the gradient rapidly increases. The head/cross wind died down as I negotiated  a couple of twisty bends about 3/4 up, this is due to the hill shielding the road so there was a nice moment of zero wind which blew again as the hill became more exposed closer to the top. Miraculously the bike climbs like a dream. Totally unexpected and I didn't even use the little ring of my double chainset. I also noticed as the day went on my breathing got easier as the humidity decreased. The bike feels so stiff, like my Scott Addict. I feel like all my power being transferrred to the wheels and the road, I love the feeling of the road, non of this comfort nonsense. This is in stark contrast to Jamis and the Cannondale Super Six which is way too 'comfortable' for my liking. The Cannondale I rode in Gran Canaria  just isn't a race bike although it is touted as that just because it was 'race geometry' and all the marketing spiel which I have to disagree with anyway. Although I didn't weigh it, it felt very heavy which shocked me.  I've not read the review but how it got bike of the year I will never know, well actually  I do but I don't want to be controversial. £3000 bike or  this one for a few hundred, I know which one I miles.
The Cragg Vale descent was a total nightmare of  freezing my arse off and being caught up in swirly cross winds slowing me down loads. I was tempted to go up Cragg to possibly get a fast time but I would have knocked 10miles off my ride. Due to the nature and direction of the ride I must have had a tail wind for about 15-17mins of the total 2hrs riding from Walsden to Littleboro' and I was held up in traffic and temporary lights most of the way from Mytholmroyd which makes my 19.2mph average quite remarkable. Looking  at Strava my Blackstone edge times are very good indeed. Should easily top the table on a good day. The longer segment includes the flat bit at the bottom which I took easy and I still got 3rd I think.  Garmin Data 

The title was meant to mean the end of Winter as my commutes on Wed 23rd Feb felt warmer and less restricted by the air even though my heart rate was super low ~120 average I was going quite fast.

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