A little over five weeks to go and the enrves are setting in. The doubts start to pop up and nag away before I manage to shut them up for a while. Being a dreadful worrier, it’s never long before they come back.
The most common of them is whether 34/26 is going to be low enough to get me round. I’ve looked at Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator and, no matter how many times I check all the possible variations, a 27 would only result in about 0.3kmh difference. Compared to last year’s setup, when I was pushing a 30/27 as my lowest gear, it’s 2kmh more at a good cadence and about 1kmh at a 40rpm grind.
Am I that 2kmh fitter than last year? I certainly think so. I’ve not found myself struggling to push my lowest gear so far in training and I’ve done a lot more quality training rather than a lot of volume. I’ve been racing on Tuesday nights and long rides on Sundays with Saturday sessions when I can manage them. I’ve made it manageable and have had a much better base level, having started building up in January rather than only starting in earnest in March.
My bike handling is better but my climbing is still downright average compared to the standard I would like to be. That, however, is still much better than last year not just in terms of how fast I can go but how long I can go before I hit my limit. Plus I’ve improved my drills for eating and drinking so I’m avoiding getting into energy deficit so often.
Now comes the tough bit – trying to avoid injury and other disaster between now and then. I had hoped to be a 3rd cat by now and to ride the Guildford critierium race the week before. As my colleague (and a pretty handy racer himself) Phil Sheehan pointed out, that would be foolhardy in the extreme. I am however going to keep on doing races up until the UK Etape on 1st July. Then it’ll be a gentle tapering down until the big day itself.
Now is there anything else I could do with for the bike? Well I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a pair of Mavic Ksyrium ES wheels. Perhaps I might persuade myself to unleash the credit card for a small spree in the next week or two…