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The start of the race season is always filled with excitement, new kit, new bikes, new enthusiasm but also a touch of nerves. Every bike rider has this, whatever their level.
After a 13 year break from MTB prior to last year’s racing for fun, training this winter was much more specific, going against the grain of lots of Cyclo-Cross races and concentrating more on MTB specific training. No longer a Pro, Dan’s attitude to train is…consistency…given his limited time to train. With 2 hours max per day to train, being specific is even more important.
Dan takes over from here with his take on the race:
‘I was fairly confident before the race I was in great shape and was excited to put it to the test but of course there was still that little bit of nerves. I knew the course set off fast then straight into a single track section with no passing room for the first few minutes of the race…so a good start was vital. With the Quarq powermeter measuring my every pedal stroke using it to race with for the first time. I tried not to focus entirely on it but it did come in as a handy tool to judge my pacing.
I made a quick start. entered the first single track section at the head of the field, then to my surprise I actually opened up a gap in the single track…I would have struggled to do this slightly last season. I kept a really solid pace for the entire first lap opening a 35 second gap on second place by the end of the first lap. I rode at a normalised power of 363w for the first lap which is 7% below my FTP , basically the power I can hold for an hour. So while it was quite fast I was still very much in control of things. See Lap #1
The second lap I still kept on the pressure but as I could see the gap was growing I made sure to settle into a rhythm I knew I could hold for the entire race but also keep something in reserve in case I needed to lift the pace later on. 328W Normalised Power is 16% below my FTP so I was surprised to see the gap grow to over a minute at the end of lap 2. See Lap #2
Once I established a 1 minute gap I then rode on feel keeping things smooth whilst checking the power every now and again to check that I was not dozing off. I basically sat comfortably and smoothly as 81-82% of my FTP for laps 3 and 4 always keeping in mind that I had more in the tank if needed. See Laps #3 and #4.
By the start of the last lap I already had a healthy lead approaching 2.5 minutes so I just kept things very consistent and rode at a similar power and pace to the previous 2 laps. My lap times for lap 3 and 4 were to the second the same and the final lap was only 2 seconds slower, I actually put slightly more power out on the final lap (See Lap #5) but I eased up in the finish straight to allow a lapped rider to pass me and do his final lap.
The total power for the race was 335 NP or 86% of my FTP so as we can see from the data I kept roughly 10% in reserve which should come in handy later in the season when the competition intensifies.
The next race is in 3 weeks time at the same venue but on a slightly different course will likely see more strength in the field.
It was also good to see Dig Deep Coaching coached rider Chris Andrews get his season off to a solid start with 3rd place and new team mate and ever smiling Neil Hayward finish 7th after a flying start.
And If anyone wonders why I was soon keen to get a fast clean start take a look at this video.'
Full race file HERE.
Photographs courtesy of Simon Maskell Photography.