Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Early Season Hilly Time Trials - How Hard Are They ?

Just for fun, I thought I would compare and contrast some of the early season hilly time trials I have been entering. These are all mainly in the Cheshire or North Wales border region.

The ones I have entered in 2013 are:
  • Chester Hilly 14 (23rd Feb 2013 - snow !)
  • Oswestry Paragons Hilly 17 (16th March 2013 -wet)
  • Birkenhead North End Cycling Club Hilly 22 (Good Friday 2013 - very very cold)
  • Wrexham Mountain Time Trial - 24 miles (takes place on 14th April 2013)
I also did these in 2012 (apart from the BNECC one).

I've graphed below the profile of each of these time trials - I've normalised the altitude so the start point of the time trial is always at zero.


Clearly, the Chester Hilly TT looks fairly flat compared to the others, whereas the Oswestry Hilly 17 and the Wrexham Hilly 24 look pretty challenging.

If I take the "reported" elevation gains (from a Garmin 800), I find the following results:
  • Chester Hilly 17, elevation gain approx 180 feet: Height gain (feet) per mile = 12.4
  • BNECC Hilly 22, elevation gain approx 480 feet: Height gain (feet) per mile = 22.8
  • Oswestry Hilly 17, elevation gain approx 920 feet: Height gain (feet) per mile = 54.2
  • Wrexham Hilly 24, elevation gain approx 1950 feet: Height gain (feet) per mile = 81.2
If I plot my speed in these events, and the median speed, and the maximum speed, there is an approximate straight line fit (decreasing with increasing height gain per mile).

I assume the different lines are simply due to the different power/weight ratio of the riders. If you assume the power/weight ratio of competitors is distributed normally (i.e. like a Gaussian distribution) you would expect roughly a normal distribution of times in one of these time trials and this seems to be roughly true (see below 2012 results from the Oswestry Hilly 17).

Anyhow the reason for doing all this is I wanted to know what sort of speed I should expect for hilly time trials - by looking at the height gain (feet) per mile, I can get a pretty good idea of what speed I should be aiming for, and whether the ride is a good, average or poor one.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Timetrialling in the snow !

Not posted on here for a while - probably because the weather in January and February 2013 was mostly dire. Managed to get a few good rides in despite the wind/rain/snow/ice.

The season started again officially, for me, on 16th Feb with the Chester Road Club Hilly 14 club event. On this particular weekend, it was warm enough for cycle shorts, and no gloves. We had a strong wind behind us on the A41 section (first 5 miles or so) but unfortunately that meant we had the wind against us on the rest of the course. I managed a time of 43 mins 33 seconds, which was almost a minute better than the same event in 2012. The winner did a time just a few seconds under 36 mins.

The week after saw the Chester Road Club Hilly 14 again, but this time the Open event - with a total of 95 entries ! This weekend was however, much colder than the one before, and there was snow during the event, although luckily not enough to stick to the road. This was the first time trial I've done where I've worn cycling tights rather than shorts, with about 4 layers on + gloves. Most riders went slower than the week before, but somewhat bizarrely, given the grim conditions, I actually went faster, with a final time of 43 mins 22 seconds - which I make to be an average speed of 19.8 mph. The winner (from Wrexham Road Club) did 32 mins 39 seconds.

Strava details below:

Someone was also kind enough to take a photo of me - I was clearly enjoying the good weather (NOT) !

I guess this means the cycling season has officially started. So far in 2013, according to Strava I've done 517 miles and 22,000 feet of climbing.

Next events up are the Oswestry Hilly 17 on March 16th and the WCTTCA 10 mile time trial near Doddleston (March 24th).