2015 Bodie Bowl on the fat bike

Bodie is a Ghost Town nestled at 8000 ft up in the Sierra mountains roughly between the Town of Bridgeport and Mono lake. I have visited it a few times but not since my Sam Angus (The Mad Dog in my Blog title) passed away. As soon as I saw the announcement for an MTB race up there I knew I had to do it in memory of my old friend.

Angus the Samoyed at Bodie Ghost Town back in 2004. RIP my friend.

Bodie Bowl – August 22, 2015
A Mountain Bike Event through the Historic Ghost/Mining Town of Bodie, CA and the surrounding Bodie Bowl. This course will work it’s way through town and then out into BLM lands and a private Cattle Ranch. Great views of the White Mountains, Mono Lake, Mammoth Mountain and the Eastern Sierras.

This event will take place at Bodie State Park on August 22, 2015. Start times will be 8:10 am (Expert), 8:25 am (Sport) and 8:40 am (Recreational). There will be two courses. “Expert/Sport” course will be 50 Kilometers (31 miles) and approximately 2500 feet of climbing. The “Recreational” course will be 30 Kilometers (18.6 miles). The courses will be at an elevation of 8000 – 9000 feet. There is just “The right amount” of climbing on this course with the elevation to make it challenging. Both courses are all on dirt and primarily one loop with a few “out and backs”. Most of the ride will be on soft “Double Track” making it a fast course with easy passing access. You’ll love it!

In my mind the perfect bike for the Bodie Bowl  was a  drop bar fatbike and it was this race that was the genesis of the idea for “Fatty Lumpkin”.

“Fatty Lumpkin” About to get his first proper taste of sand

The race turned out to be a very low key affair with only around 50 entrants and a very friendly atmosphere.  I was also surprised to see 34f temperatures at the start which was a shock to the system after baking in the Bay Area all week.

Pretty Cold !!

I went for a warm up dressed with woolly gloves, arm warmers and a wind vest but the temperature rose very quickly so I ditched the wind vest and gloves for the race.  I wish I had ditched the arm warmers too as it got pretty warm on the climbs.

My plan for the race was to hang on to the only other fatbike in the expert group and hopefully out-sprint him on the uphill run in to the finish. Unfortunately the other fatbike rider turned out to be faster than me.

The race started off pretty mellow with a single speeder dictating the pace round the first of the town center loops. I was glad of the steady start as I had only done 1.6 miles of warm-up. Straight away I noticed  that the other fatbike rider was strong on the short climb.  On the second loop of the town center he opened up a bit of a gap but made a wrong turn on the downhill so the group came back together.

The first three miles were downhill on a bumpy and sandy road so I ended up on the front but I was riding well within myself as I knew we had a long way to go. I wasn’t on the front for long before the other fat bike rider came flying past so I had no choice but to go with him. Pretty soon we had opened up a decent gap over the rest of our group.  When we hit the first climb the fat bike rider started to gap me but I suspected he was pushing too hard so I kept to a pace I was more comfortable with. I felt sure I could bring him back on the longer faster sections (how wrong I was).  I was very impressed at how good the fatbike handled on the loose and sandy trails and was really enjoying myself.  On the first downhill I had to temper my enthusiasm a bit as there were a lot of rocks and I didn’t want to crash or break off a derailleur.

It turns out that we had taken a wrong turn and should not have gone up the climb spur at the start of the race but rather at the end. When I got to the junction I followed the arrows but they took me back to nearly the start.  A few people shouted at me that I was going the wrong way but the arrows seemed to confirm I was on the right course.  Eventually it dawned on me that there was no-one else around and I was only about a mile away from where we started.  I dawned on me that the race was over for me so I turned round and just rode to finish.

Out on Course – Picture Courtesy of Leigh

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and due to the out and back nature of the course I got to see the lead group quite regularly (I think a lot of them went wrong too but not as bad as I did).  I was really impressed at how well the fatbike handled the terrain and any sluggishness that I normally feel on hard packed trails completely disappeared once I hit the sand. The ride was nothing short of magical.  I think I should have gone quite a bit lower in pressure for this event as I was bouncing about a bit too much on the rocky bits.  On sandy or loose rock climbs the fatbike was amazing.  I felt really sorry for the few people who had turned up on CX bikes as they were having a terrible time digging in and fishtailing in the sand. The course was 100% rideable on a fatbike.

I finished in a time of around 2h30m with 30.1 miles and 2269ft of climbing on the clock.  I really enjoyed this event and plan to be back again next year with some better navigation skills.

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First 200 Miles on “Fatty Lumpkin”

“Fatty Lumpkin”  the drop bar Framed Alaskan Fat Bike and me had a bit of a baptism of fire. My first proper ride was the 100 mile Lost and Found Gravel race where I suffered rather badly and we parted not the best of friends.  Fatty sat unloved in a corner of the garage throughout the months of June and July whilst I concentrated on getting my Time Trial mojo back. August however, brings with it Fatty’s second race (the Bodie Bowl) so it was time to sort out the problems that made me unhappy way back in May.

My biggest issue with my setup was the Salsa Woodchipper bars which I simply could not get along with at all. I went to my local shop and borrowed a set of “Cowtipper” bars to see if these would work any better for me but before I could install them I spotted the new Salsa Bikes launch which had several drop bar MTB’s.  I quickly realized that my bar position was way different to what they had so I tried to mimic what I saw in the pictures.  This involved tipping the bars down to what appeared to be a ridiculous angle but it made all the difference in the world.  The new position allowed me to run the brifters in a  much more conventional position and the result was far more comfortable  and much less cramped.  I also raised the bars about an inch which actually made riding on the newly positioned drops even more comfortable.

New Bar Setup

I also discovered that I had somehow ended up with my saddle too high which was limiting my power and giving me sore knees. I expect when we were trying to sort out the tire issues on the night before the “Lost and Found” the height got adjusted in the work stand and I never noticed. I have also been experimenting with tire pressures and have found my best compromise to be 13psi front and 14psi rear (at least by what my pumps says).  This gives me good predictable handling along with acceptable bump absorption in the front. I still find a little waywardness on very fast downhill corners where i am really cranked over and can feel a bit of side wall deformation.

The first ride out on my local testing ground was a revelation and I felt right at home blasting up and down trails.  After only a few rides I found myself getting close to and even beating some of my 29er times on the trails.  The more I rode, the faster I got on the downhills as I learned to trust the incredible cornering grip.  Rocky down hills are still a bit of a challenge as the fat tires can only soak up so much trail chatter but anything with loose dirt is a blast.  This Tuesday I actually got within 10 seconds of getting my KOM back on a particular local dirt climb on the fatbike and was beginning to think that the fatbike was quite a trail weapon.  I decided to ride my CX bike on that same trail this morning for comparison and reality set back in when I was over a minute faster.

The fat tires and 10 pound weight difference are just too much of a disadvantage for the Fatbike to overcome on this trail. I would have expected to see the Fatbike to claw some time back on the loose dirt section but as can be seen from the trace below the fatbike loses time every foot of the way (fatbike was more fun though)

Comparison of CX bike vs Fatbike (purple) on “Dyer Up” climb.

The only thing I cant really do anything about that I find a little annoying is the Q factor which always feels odd after hopping off one of my other bikes. I know this is a tradeoff for the 197mm rear end and relatively tight chainstays but I wish it was better.

Despite not being as quick as a CX bike I am looking forward to Bodie Bowl where I will be entered into the fatbike category.  It will be interesting to see how I do against other fatbikes. The “Expert/Sport” course will be 50 Kilometers (31 miles) and approximately 2500 feet of climbing. All of the course is at 8000ft plus and the temperatures could be as low a just above freezing early in the morning.

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Hill Climb Season 2015

I am sat at the computer fighting off a miserable cold/ sinus infection picked up on my business trip to Norway and mulling over the cancellation of another two time trials. Naturally my thoughts turn to the hill climb season as with the exception of the tempus Fugit TT the TT season is over. The HC calendar at the moment looks like this.

  • September 12th : Mt. Tamalpais Hill Climb
  • September 20th : Fremont Peak HC
  • October 4th : Mount Diablo Challenge
  • Low Key Hill Climb Series ???????. I am hoping that the low key hill climb series also returns this year but things have been deadly quiet on that front up to now.

With the lack of entries for this type of event in 2015 I have worries that the two hill climbs in September will also end up being cancelled. I have ridden the Fremont Peak hill climb twice before and really enjoyed it but have never ridden the Mt Tam event. Last year the Mt Tam event was cancelled,

Neither of the two events in September are suitable for single speed as both feature a high speed flat opening section but I plan to return to the Diablo Challenge on the Wabi Single Speed. I am hoping to try to knock at least a minute off last years time.

Fingers crossed that no events get cancelled and I cant wait to start training for these events once I get rid of this darn cold.

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA & NEVADA TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: Masters 45-49: 6th

I have spent a considerable amount of effort getting a comfortable position on my TT bike after my nightmare experience at the National champs two weeks ago.  Seat of the pants feel is that I am not as fast but I am a 100% more comfortable. I have done a couple of hour long efforts in the weeks leading up to Sattley and not experienced any of the issues (including saddle sores) that hurt my efforts at Loyalton.

My goals for the race were to beat 57 minutes (to achieve a life time personal best at the age of 49) and to finish in a state where I could still walk.  My plan was to go for a negative split where I didn’t push quite so hard on the outbound leg and then have a faster leg home.  I had noticed in reviewing my previous 40K attempts that i always fade on the return leg and i am sure this hurts my time more.

The weather was just about perfect at Sattley with temperatures around 60 degrees and fairly light winds.  I wouldn’t need a bottle today but I took one just in case.  I set off at my target outbound power plan but was a bit disappointed with my speed. It felt like a headwind out so I had my fingers crossed that there would be a tailwind home. The funny thing about the Sattley course is that although it looks flat, there are drags that really sap your speed and they can be quite frustrating. At about 5 miles the road surface degrades a bit and there are expansion joints every 15 feet which are incredibly annoying.  I hit a section of these expansion joints on the way back that completely destroyed my pace for a while.

I hit the turn at at exactly 57 minute pace and was hoping for a storming tailwind home (averaged 289W). Unfortunately it felt like a headwind on the way back too so it was not going to be easy on the slightly shorter return leg.  Even though I had throttled back slightly on the way out I still suffered badly on the way back and struggled home at around 20W less than the outward leg.  I am a little puzzled how I can put out 330W for an hour on a climb but less than 280W for an hour in a flat time trial. I do think that altitude has an impact on my breathing which kills my FTP and today my average pulse was around 10bpm down on my usual 40K efforts.

In the end I managed a new all time personal best of 56m45s  but was deeply disappointed at the finish feeling that I had not done a good ride. I felt I should have rode a much stronger second leg and could not figure out why my power faded so badly.

Result : 6th Place 56:45 (New pr)

Winner : Dan Bryant 50:13

Not as low as I should be but comfortable. Skinsuit is billowing a bit on the top of my shoulders (not good)

Looking at the above picture I thought my saddle looked a bit low and when I just checked it had dropped by 1/2″ during the event. Those expansion joints must have caused the saddle to slip down which is a problem i seem to be having a lot this year with the Trek. I doubt this was the reason for the power drop on the way back but it cant have helped.

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Fiddling With my TT position. 1 Week to State Champs

This week I have ridden my TT bike almost every day and apart from today I have changed some aspect of my position. I have made some huge progress over my nationals setup and my shoulders now feel much more relaxed and my saddle doesn’t tear up my nether regions like a grinder. My saddle is slightly lower, my bars are about an inch higher and my aero bars are a bit wider apart (still not convinced the Specialized Power Expert is the saddle for me).

I feel like i am not as aerodynamic and that I am not putting out the same power but I do feel much more comfortable.  I rode for an hour today in the TT position and got no sores and my IT band problems were thankfully absent so that was a huge win. I don’t really have any benchmarks to compare speed and power in the new position, as I have felt very run down since the 40k, but it is too late to fiddle around with stuff anymore.  In the off season I am going to get a professional TT bike fit but for the remaining TT’s I will stick with what I have.

What’s left in terms of TT’s for 2015:

  • State 40k TT champs (Satley, CA): Flat course at a pretty high Altitude (approx 5000ft) which I seem to have some issues with.
  • Beat The Clock 16k (Woodside, CA) ????: Possible date Change means I might be able to ride this. Currently the same date as Satley.
  • Warnerville TT 35k:  Sporting course with poor roads, railroad crossings, nasty heat, plagues of locusts and an evil uphill finish. I hope to reverse the trend of the last two years where I have gone slower and slower.
  • Esparto TT: 30K: Mixture of a flat to rolling course. Another TT where I seem to go slower every year. Ridden in 2012 and 2013 but missed it last year as it clashed with Tempus fugit.
  • Tempus Fugit Summer 18k: I won this one last year but in the spring version in 2015 i was well off the pace. Only concern is that it is the day after the Bodie Bowl Fat Bike race. I hope the fat bike race and the long drive back doesn’t destroy my legs too much.
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Sattley Time Trial (NCNCA TT Championships) Planning

After the somewhat disastrous National Championships at Loyalton I came away with a few things I need to work on in the short two weeks before the district championships:

  • I need to have a bottle on my bike.  The dry hot air at altitude makes 40K without a bottle a really bad idea for me.
  • I need to be comfortable for an hour on the bike
  • I need to sort out my hip/IT band  issues*
  • I need to sort out my saddle related problems

There is not much I can do in terms of training and stretching that would make my current TT setup effective for Satley in just two weeks.  In the same way there is no point in being super aero if I am so uncomfortable after 20 miles that I can’t stay on the aero bars. With this in mind I am going to work on a position that is comfortable that I can adapt to in a very short time period and one that opens up my hip angle.  I can put out some great power and speed on my current setup for 10 miles but that is no help over 25 miles.

*After some searching on the web I am convinced that what happened to me at The National 40K  was that my Tensor fascia latae muscles were utterly exhausted or cramping.  The hip pain I was experiencing was exactly in the areas shown in the diagram below.  This is all related to IT band issues so If I fix one I should fix the other.

http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/your-it-band-is-not-the-enemy-but-maybe-your-foam-roller-is

With respect to the Specialized Power saddle I was so unhappy with it that I was going to sell it but after doing much research on line It seems that the nose up aspect of the UCI position is one of the main problems.  Satley does not require the horizontal (nose to Tip) requirement so I can setup the saddle as intended by the manufacturer.  I only hope this will fix the annoying saddle sores this saddle keeps giving me but I still feel it is the width that is causing many of the problems.

So far only one rider is signed up in the 45-49 age group but he is listed as “Team BMC” which means he has to be really fast. I am not so bothered about my position at Satley but my goal is to beat 57 minutes and to finish in a state where I can still walk :)

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National Elite 40k TT Championships : Loyalton CA

Even as late as Tuesday I was still fiddling around to get a comfortable position with my new UCI legal setup. I could put in some good power numbers for a mile but for for longer distances it felt like my saddle height was wrong and my hips and IT band felt very uncomfortable. I have never encountered such lack of comfort on my TT bike before even when I had to convert to a UCI position the night before the masters TT championships a few years ago. The setup was not radically different from what I had previously (apart from the saddle) so I suspect my discomfort is mainly related to my lack of training in the TT position on this bike.  I also suspect all is not right with me and the new saddle as I really think this saddle is not intended to be used “UCI horizontally”. I am developing a deep dislike for the new saddle (So are my nether regions).

Final UCI legal position For the TT……..well almost

My strategy for the week was to put in a few hard intervals on Tuesday on the TT bike but keep the duration short, rest Wednesday and then pre-ride the course Thursday with a few leg openers to open up the pipes for Friday’s race. When I got to the course on Thursday afternoon it was very hot and very windy.  The course also turned out to be pretty bumpy if you rode close to the edge due to expansion joints in the road. My handlebars actually shifted during the ride due to these bumps.  I took the chance to do some extended efforts at tempo in the aero position but quickly found i was suffering from hip discomfort after about 5 miles.  I finished my course pre-ride pretty drained and had sore hips and IT bands despite not pushing very hard.

The TT course the day before

On Thursday evening I went to Northstar to have my bike checked out to ensure it was UCI legal. It passed the bike check with no issue which is more than can be said for many of the bikes there.

Waiting for the bike check

Come race day I still had sore legs but I did an extended trainer workout at fast but light tempo and my legs actually started to feel pretty good.  I felt my saddle was a little low on the warmup so I put it up 1cm and it definitely felt better (reading up on the subject of hip angle related TT problems after the event indicated that this was probably a very bad idea). There seems to be a particularly nasty hot air at altitude that really dries you out. I felt very hot and thirsty while warming up despite drinking plenty.

Race day

As I pulled up to the start ramp I was expecting a full bike check and weigh in but to my surprise all they did was check my brakes worked. I asked the official what was going on and he said they were not enforcing UCI rules for my event. I was taken aback by this announcement especially because of all the trouble I had gone to to be UCI compliant. It felt very warm waiting for my start in my Kask helmet. I didn’t have provision for a bottle on my bike as i thought aero bottles were banned for UCI events and this was worrying me a bit. Fortunately my friend Brian brought me an icy cold bottle to drink from while I waited.

Start Ramp [Picture by Jenny ]

I felt pretty good for the first 2 miles and was riding at a good controlled pace but still maintaining 27MPH +. After 2 miles I put it up a gear and pushed on at race pace but things started to feel a bit harder. i felt as if I was riding into a bit of a headwind. When I got to the 90 left at 5 miles I definitely felt like I was riding into a headwind and I started to struggle a bit. I thought I should push hard into the headwind as the way back would be much faster. The next 7.5 miles to the turn were generally very hard but occasionally the wind seemed to drop and my speed picked back up to 27MPH +. It felt a very long way to that turn but I was looking forward to a tailwind home.

Unfortunately it felt even harder on the way back and i really started to struggle. My mouth was so dry my tongue kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and sweat was running into my eyes. I kept pushing on waiting for the super fast 5 miles to the finish but the turn never seemed to get any closer. I got passed by a few riders over the next few miles and my power was dropping alarmingly. I really began to wonder if I could hold the pace to the finish.

[Picture by Jenny Peng]

 I finally hit the 5 mile turn to the finish and didn’t really experience the tail wind I was expecting. I started to get major pain in my hips and my power was dropping even further. I pushed on as hard as I could but the pain in my legs was getting worse. I got to 4 miles to go and had to change down a gear and seriously wondered if I could even get to the finish. I have never suffered like this before in a TT and I hate to think how much time i lost over these last few miles.  In the end I still managed a personal best time of 57m14s (Road bike, not recumbent) but this time was only good enough for 70th out of 77 riders. The winner did a time of 47m22s !!!!!

After the finish I was in excruciating pain in my hips and could barely pedal the bike. I couldn’t even move for a long while after getting off. My IT bands were tight as guitar strings and I was not able to walk properly or drive the car.  I sat down in the car for about 10 minutes drinking several bottles of water and took some strong pain killers.  Eventually the pain died off enough for me to start the 4.5 hour drive home. Despite the worst TT of my life i still really enjoyed the event but i need to sort out my position before i do any more TT’s this year.

Many thanks to Team Fremont for looking after me and letting me warm up under their tent.

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Diablo Hill Climb TT cancelled

Due to lack of entries my clubs hill climb TT has been cancelled. This is a great disappointment for me as I was really looking forward to riding this one on the Wabi Classic Single speed. Never mind, I can still look forward to Mt Diablo challenge and the low key hill climb series in the fall.

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Fixed No Good for nationals ?

Just saw a posting on the time trial forum that appears to prevent fixed gear from UCI road events :(

I am going to have to dust off the Trek !

Oh Dear !

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It’s Mt. Diablo Hillclimb TT time again. Practice 2

I had decided to try a 18t this week and even though I had a brand new spare Shimano 18t freewheel in the toolbox I couldn’t bring myself to use it on my race bike.  I normally exclusively use White Industries ENO freewheels for my hill climb bike but I just couldn’t afford keep buying different sizes for different gear rations so I went with Excess Components 3/32 freewheels instead. I was able to buy 5 of these for the price of one White Industries cog on sale from Amazon. I was really hoping they were not the junk that the Shimano freewheels are (I do use these on my commute bike but they develop a lot of play pretty quickly) or even worse the ACS freewheels I tried. I tried two ACS freewheels on my single speed CX bike and one started slipping after riding in the rain just once. The second one worked better but sounded horrible after only 500 miles and my chain kept derailing (a problem I have never experienced on any other freewheel on my commute bike). The spec of the Excess sounded very encouraging:

 Excess Components Single-Speed Freewheels

  • Cold forged from 4130 chromoly
  • 3 heavy-duty fast engaging/releasing pawls
  • 30 Points of engagement for an instant and reliable start every time
  • Show chrome finish on the outside, titanium finish in the center
  • 8-spline body for weight savings and easier removal with standard tool

FREEWHEELS — White Industries

The freewheel utilizes a sealed cartridge bearing instead of a loose ball system. There are two advantages to the cartridge bearing:
•It is sealed from elements like mud, grit, and water.
•The bearing is nicely contained in one simple unit, easily pulled and replaced when worn.

The ENO freewheel features a machined inner driver and machined outer gear case resulting in a freewheel that runs concentrically without the tight and loose spots common to other freewheels. A 36 point engagement system and a case hardened, nickel electro-plated outer gear case make this freewheel a perfect addition to your single speed. For trials riders or those wanting a beefier version we offer the trials freewheel with 72 points of engagement and a thicker outer gear case to withstand the rigors of a more demanding style of riding.

The good news is although they do not feel quite as smooth or tight as a White Industries freewheel and the chain is a little noisier they actually feel great with a crisp engagement and good freewheel (time will tell how reliable they are). The finish is also not as good as the White Industry but you can find them for about 1/5th of the price on sale so they are definitely worth the risk. Long term report to follow.

I was expecting big things with this change to a bigger gear in terms of my overall time. I hoped that the 1.4MPH gain at 100rpm would translate to a similar improvement over the first 1.5 miles with a corresponding 0.5MPH improvement in the overall time. My theory was that I was losing a lot of time through spinning out the 32 x 20 but I should still be OK on the steeper stuff on a 32 x 18. What I actually achieved was a nearly 30 second slower pace over the 1.5miles which led to a deficit of nearly a minute by mile 3.5 and finishing up with a deficit of 33seconds by the top. I was not a happy bunny.

Comparison of 32×20 ride to 32×18 ride (pink)

I have adopted single speed for hill climbs based on the mechanic simplicity and purity of the experience. I also enjoy the challenge of figuring out the optimum gear for the climb and the joy of riding an “old school” steel bike . Having said that, I am pretty disappointed with my lack luster performance on the single speed on this climb. In theory I can expect to lose 5 seconds per mile simply due to the weight difference between my Carbon Tarmac and steel Wabi which would make me just 30 seconds slower than the carbon. Unfortunately I am losing 30s per mile throughout the course (over 3 minutes slower in total) which is a huge loss. I thought even with the disadvantage of Steel and Single speed I would be able to do a time that wouldn’t put me in last place. I am not sure my ego can handle last place :+)

I felt it was possible to get within 1-1.5 minutes of my p.b with the fixed setup and to do this I though all I needed to do was up the gear. I assumed lack of gearing was my issue over the first 1.5 miles but even with a bigger gear the headwind was a significant enough factor that I was nearly 1MPH slower to mile 1.5 (The wind was definitely harder this week). The first section is a big problem On my geared bike I can set off in a controlled fashion and ease into the TT with a pretty high average speed. On single speed I need to pedal furiously to keep up a half way decent speed and I also have to freewheel down the little drop just after the start. I think this may be having an impact on my performance later in the climb which is why even when the gearing isn’t an issue I am still losing 30s per mile. Backing off more at the start simply isn’t possible so on the day I will have to do a super warm up so I am zinging right out of the starting gate.

Black line = PR on Carbon tarmac with Gears, Blue line = 34×18 Wabi Steel , Purple line = 34 x 20 Wabi Steel

Surprisingly the bigger gear didn’t actually feel all that bad and on the hardest section of the climb I only lost 5s to my previous 32 x 20 attempt (14 seconds slower than my PR). I did however have to do the entire climb out of the saddle which took quite a lot out of me and my arms began to ache a lot.

The Steepest Bit : Black line = PR on Carbon tarmac with Gears, Blue line = 34×18 Wabi Steel , Purple line = 34 x 20 Wabi Steel

The trace below comparing 32×20 (purple) and 32×18 (Pink) shows  I was definitely suffering more as the climb went on. It does have to be noted that there was a noticeable headwind on the climb this week so this may be why I had the 5s difference. Expanded view just showing the two single speed attempts below.

Comparison of 32×20 ride to 32×18 ride (pink)

I fitted a cadence sensor and saw some very low cadence numbers on parts of the climb (low 60’s)  so I don’t think upping the gear any more will achieve anything other than destroying my knees.  The other variable I haven’t really been able to quantify is my fitness in relation to last year.  As I haven’t the option of a power meter I can really only go by how I feel.  I would say I feel pretty fit and my weight is quite similar to last year but I haven’t had the quality of racing.  Quality racing really teaches you how to suffer so perhaps I am not pushing myself as hard as I could. On my final practice before the big day I am going to concentrate on better pacing to take advantage of the 18t gear and trying to push a bit harder.  Perhaps a skin suit on the day may gain me a few seconds too.

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