How do you now when you have reached peak form? When you then lose it, of course. Unless, that is, you are one of those riders with sufficient resources to own a power meter and, more importantly, employ someone to make sure you use it correctly, in which case you will presumably reach predicted peaks at times chosen to coincide with major riding goals. And the inevitable troughs to follow.
Me? I don’t generally experience much by way of fluctuations in form, let alone what might be termed a peak in it, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered with structure in my riding “program” and also because I tend to ride pretty much the same amount and at a largely unvarying pace all year round. My evening “10” times indicate as much, such rare improvements as there are these days only coming along as the weather gets warmer or I try out some superfast new component.
Somehow, this year has been a bit different. I’m ascribing it to the week I spent with Dave “Shiny Boy” Arthur in Majorca back in March, during which I lost 2kg and regained some real enthusiasm for racing. It is fading a bit – I haven’t ridden an open TT for a month and my recent C-category LVRC road race victory may well prove my only ride in a road race this year – but the hard miles I’ve had to ride during the last eight weeks have been enough to polish something I didn’t know was there until last Thursday.
Almost exactly one year ago, Shiny Boy tucked me away in his only time trial outing of the year and, given the fact that he has shown an annual improvement since I started at RCUK while I have, er, slowed down, I sadly concluded at the time that he was now quicker and likely to get more so. His form in Majorca only served to reinforce the feeling.
So, although I’d managed to put him under pressure a few weeks ago on a recce ride of the forthcoming wiggle Magnificat cyclosportive, I was expecting little. The event was one of the Redmon CC’s evening 15 mile TTs over the course of the club’s famous Grand Prix des Gentlemen; lumpy in parts, fast early on along the A24 dual carriageway and hard through the lanes back from Rusper. Turns out it was one of those evenings when you can’t feel the pedals.
Right from the first few pedal strokes I felt fast. Setting off one minute after Germain Burton may or may not have helped; for sure, there’s no way I was going to see the lad, who is progressing at a stunning rate. But you generally know when you are going well and I finished hoping for a quick time, which I reckon is what I got. Conceding 1’20” to Germain over 15 miles ain’t too shabby, after all. Nor is handing out an unexpectedly heavy beating to young DA…
But, just to prove that the ride really was done at peak form, I woke the next moring with a sore throat and cold. And when I got back on the bike, the pedals felt very heavy indeed.