2 of my goals this year were event-specific targets.
First up, I had a target of a sub 5-hour ride for a 100-mile event. I'd picked RideLondon, as it's a notoriously fast route, and has plenty of opportunity for pack-work. As has been plastered all over the news, due to the arrival of Bertha, RideLondon was un-ceremoniously chopped down to 86 miles, removing the only 2 climbs of note (and I call Box Hill a "climb", but it's really not...5% and the smoothest tarmac you've ever seen means that you can do it in the big ring). I'm not going to be able to hit my target :-(
I only found out the route had been shortened at the start line...6:25am on a wet and windy Sunday morning. There was a bit of grumbling from the mass of cyclists about losing the distance, and the weather didn't seem that bad. I spent some time listening in on a group of riders who had a target time of "about 5-6 hours" for the shortened route, and their plans to sit on the wheels of the strong riders and get an easy day. "Fuck that shit" I thought, and decided that as I had no hills to worry about, I would instead drop the hammer early, and make sure I was not a free ride for someone else. Rolled up to the start line, klaxon goes and I jump off the front, and put in a 3km effort before looking behind me, expecting to see a line of 300+ cyclists strung out. There are 4, and the rest of my wave are nowhere in sight. Another kilometre and it's down to 1 other lad. We spent a surreal 15 minutes dashing along a deserted dual carriageway in central London, before joining up with a wave from the other start, that went off a few minutes before us. The group settles down into a pace that is good, with about 4-5 of us sharing the work on the front, while most others sat in, or slowly dropped off as the pace became too hard. There was a fairly strong headwind, and once someone dropped off, they quickly fell behind.
The group went well until Newlands (the only "hill" left). One very strong lad at that point shot off the front, 2 others tried to go with him, blew up and fell back, and I went up with the other lad from my wave...everyone else vanished. I lost the other lad on the way to Dorking (I think he cooked himself up Newlands), and so I was solo riding for a while, until just after Dorking I joined up with a fast lad (called Chris...we had a bit of a chat), who was pacing his girlfriend round (she was pretty quick). Going through Leatherhead she dropped off the back, and rather than wait we put the hammer down, and effectively did a 2-Up TTT back to London, overtaking, picking up and dropping various small groups en route. Great fun, and I was on my limit for pretty much the entire time.
When we hit Wimbledon, the heavens opened, with that was probably the heaviest rain I've ever seen. I'd decided to ride without eyewear, as if you're in a pack in the wet, spray and grit means they quickly become un-usable. This had the slight downside of meaning I couldn't see a thing on the descent from Wimbledon...fortunately with closed roads I just had to worry about corners and other cyclists. We hammered the last 10 miles as the conditions got worse and worse, and turned into the Mall looking like drowned rats.
So it wasn't a 100-miler, but I'm happy with the effort I put in. My final time was 3 hours, 41 minutes for 86 miles (average speed of 23.5mph, or 37.5km/h in proper cycling numbers), which I'm very happy with, given the conditions. I reckon that the extra 14 miles would have added about 40 minutes to my time (I've done both climbs before, so have a pretty good idea about how long they take, and also how quick the descents are), so I would have destroyed my target for the 100-miles. Out of the 21,000 finishers, I was 345th in terms of time, and don't think I could have gone faster unless I was in a large, organised group the entire way (I was actually surprised at the lack of big pelotons...possibly the wind and conditions broke them up).
The other event I was targetting was one of the local 10-Mile TT events, with a goal of sub 23-minutes. The last chance this year to do the "fast" course was last night, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to localised flooding...a bit annoying, but to be honest the conditions last night were not optimal, and setting a PB would have been un-lightly. This means that for this year my PB will be 23 minutes and 13 seconds, set on a slightly slower route a few weeks ago.
I'm now at a bit of a loose end for a month or so, as summer fades it's way out...the autumn events schedules are not yet out, so I'll be in a holding pattern for a few weeks. I've had a lot of positives come out of the year. My aerobic endurance is well up (for a given effort, my heart rate is 8bpm lower than it was 8 weeks ago), and I've done a lot of riding (over 9,000km so far this year, and that doesn't include my daily commutes to and from work). I'll be working on goals and events for next year (I have one already, something called Mallorca 312), and I've decided to keep my coach, as I've found that having accountability to someone else for my training is a good motivator... I can't argue with the results I've gained over this year so far...even with injuries, I'm coming out stronger and faster than I've ever been...