Course Spotting for Cleveland Steelman
On Saturday morning, I got up early (OK - early-ish), put the bike in the back of the car and drove down to Catterick to have a look around the Cleveland Steelman’s bike course. I’d programmed it into the satnav on my phone as an ‘itinerary’, with various waypoints setup to guide me round. Before riding it, I drove round once . . . which took an alarmingly long time, considering that it’s less than 30 miles . . .
Back near where transition’s going to be setup, I got the bike out, loaded it up with fluids, taped a bunch of gels and chocolate treats to it, and headed off. The weather looked a bit overcast, but the forecast was for it to stay dry. So even though I’d just driven through a pretty heavy shower, I set out without any waterproofs.
And rode right into another shower for the first five minutes, to get nicely soaked. Rather than turn around, I figured that on race day I won’t be wearing any waterproofs, so I could just suck it up and deal with it today.
My plan was to do a single lap of the course at race speed, and to keep fuelled as I should when racing. That means >750ml fluids (Zym) per hour, and ~300cals in the form of a gel and a mini-Mars bar every hour. I’ve never done a race that’s long enough to have to keep fuelled up like this before, so wanted to try out how easy it is to get stuff untaped from the bike and down my gullet. Not very is the answer, so yesterday I bought a top-tube box (/tri-bag) to keep all my goodies in and within reach.
The course is one that really suits me. Let me correct that - it would really suit me for a shorter race. It’s basically flat with gently rolling hills, and the temptation is to just give it 110% all the way round. For a sprint that’d be fine, but I think I’d end up in pretty poor shape next week if I do that - my legs were pretty tired after just one lap on Saturday, where I averaged 18.7 mph, with four stops (three to consult the map and one because I just can’t bring myself to pee all over my nice bike).
So my cunning plan for race day is to negative split it, and end up with an overall average of only about 18 mph - target something like 17.7 mph average for the first lap, and just over 18 on the second. OK, so it’s not that fast, but at least that way I stand a fair chance of actually being able to run afterwards. If I can hit 18 mph as the overall average, my bike split will be 3hrs 13 mins, which’ll do nicely for me.
Other things to note about the course, especially if you’re racing next weekend: In the first couple of miles, the road’s drains are somewhat sunken below the road surface - about 1 - 1.5 inches down. That shouldn’t be a problem as most people ride further out from the edge of the kerb than the drains, but it’s still something to be mindful of. This is also a problem along one stretch of the back section of the course (somewhere around mile 22?), but here there’s one in particular to look out for there - a sunken drain that’s about a yard out from the edge of the road & right in the line you may be taking. Also, the road surface on the left hand bend as you exit Great Langdon (about mile 3) is pretty rough, tending to encourage a more open line, or if you take it tight the bike tends to skitter wide a little.
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 06/28/2008
- Total Time: 1:33:00.00
- Distance: 29 miles
- Average Speed: 18.71 mph