Rich Tea Biscuit

This morning I took on the Richmond’s 2015 UCI Worlds Course, a 16.1km circuit with 157m of climb. I have ridden this course before, and on that attempt, I made some terrible mistakes on both climbs. I was hoping to put those issues to bed on this attempt.

In some ways, Richmond’s UCI Worlds Course reminds me of Watopia’s Jungle Circuit. On the Jungle Circuit, the course is split about 50/50, with 50% climb, and 50% down hill. It’s not exactly like that, but it feels that way. Richmond feels like it’s about 50% flat, 25% down hill, and 25% up hill.

The kicker is that all of the uphill sections come right at the end of the lap. And if you make a hash of your gearing, you’re basically dead in the water.

I mentioned last time that I rode Richmond that when I initially tried the Richmond circuit (I think on the very first, or maybe the second day I had Zwift / my bike setup), I really didn’t like it.

On the Tacx Neo 2 smart trainer, at 100% simulation, the cobbles are frankly incredibly unpleasant. Essentially the Neo 2 simulates various road surface feelings. Mud makes a wumph wumph sound and feeling, tarmac is smooth and lovely, and cobbles… well, they felt like I was spiked up the anus.

I’ve knocked the cobble simulation effect down to about 50% (if memory serves) using the Tacx App, and now they are noticable, but not horrible. I don’t think I will be attempting the Paris Roubaix any time soon.

Anyway, the gist is, Richmond is quite cobbly and that’s why I didn’t like it. But with the cobble factor knocked down a touch, it’s a pretty good course. And a “fun” workout.

Richmond features two sprints, and two KOMs. You can see some more info about the KOM’s on this page.

The sprints come in the first half of the lap. The KOM’s come in the final quarter of the lap, back to back. Followed by another, non-timed hill climb. Lovely, sweaty stuff.

On fairly fresh legs, I managed to give a decent account of myself and beat my previous sprint time. This would be my first attempt at a Richmond sprint using clippy pedals. My last attempt was on trainers and cages.

What I’m going to try is adjusting my cleat positions slightly, so the cleat is more towards the middle of my foot. Right now, I have them set pretty much in the middle of where they can go. I think I could get more power by adjusting, so will be giving that a try.

Coming about 4km into the circuit, it’s just about enough time to have warmed up the legs a bit, and is a great way to kick start the heart.

This actually wasn’t the highest my heart rate went on this ride, and because the sprint only lasts ~20 seconds, it’s also not that noticeable that it’s jumped significantly.

Fairly happy with this time. I managed my max watts for the ride on this one at 544w. And after the sprint I was bushed for a good length of time. So long, average watts!

I’m not entirely sure what this status represents, but it reminded me of Postman Pat.

As mentioned above, the sprints and the KOMs are fairly close together on Richmond’s UCI Worlds Circuit, so by the time I’d recovered somewhat, the Broad Street sprint was upon me.

Slightly longer (but only just), the Broad Street sprint is a challenge as I’d given as best I could on the first sprint and didn’t have as much to give on this one.

Even so, happy to have beaten my previous time by over a second.

The difference between the first and second sprints was about 200w, as best I can tell from the graphs. Lots of room for improvement here.

With the sprints out of the way, a light relief comes in the form of a long-ish downhill segment, in my case taken in my hardest gear at some terribly low cadence, as I huffed and puffed my way towards the two KOMs.

Some small mercy, I’d forgotten about the third climb and was entirely focused on the two KOMs.

Rounding the corner to double back on myself, the first Richmond KOM we hit is Libby Hill, at 0.63km with a meagre sound 39m of climb at an average of 6%.

It sounds easier than it is, that’s for sure, with the first 60% being fairly gentle, and then this weird cobbled S-bend malarky kicks in towards the end. The first time I tried this it completely caught me off guard, and my bike was making all kinds of crazy noises.

This time, I tried to pace myself somewhat, aiming to ride standing, but keeping my wattage above 200w if at all possible.

I feel like I did OK on this one. I messed up my gearing at the bottom of the S-bend. Honestly, the sounds coming from my frame, or chain, I’m not sure which, sound like something is about to give way.

2 minutes 20 seconds is a massive improvement on last time. This is not a truly fair comparison as last time I was basically on reconnaissance. Next time will be the true test.

I think I should have dropped to the lower ring on the front at the very bottom of the climb, and then used the various gears to ascend. Next time I will try this approach.

Once at the top of Libby Hill, there’s only a moment’s downhill respite before boom on to the next climb – the 23rd Street KOM.

Again, at only 0.26km with 27m of ascent, in theory this sounds really straightforward. And it is literally straightforward – just a single uphill grind. The 10% average gradient makes it interesting.

I started strong on this one but again, was in the big ring on the front and that just won’t work for me on this climb.

I had to change down to the little ring, and that took about 5 or more seconds, as I had to go fairly slow (even slower than I was going) in order not to derail my chain, or worse.

No screenshots from this climb. Frankly, I was struggling a bit. My heart rate was around the 180bpms, and I was pouring with sweat. Combine that with erratic breathing and I’m just grateful that bugger is as short as it is.

Again, the times are unfair. Last time I completely screwed this climb. Next time will be a better comparison. Even so, happy to get another time clocked and on the board.

With two better climbs, and two faster sprints, it’s no surprise that I managed to beat my previous 2015 UCI Worlds Course time.

What is interesting to note is that I put in better sprints, and better KOMs, but overall I must have given a lesser effort than last time as I only just managed to take 20 seconds off my previous time.

When adding up the differences between my previous sprints and KOMs, I lost about 10 seconds on my apparently slower overall pace on this lap. Not brilliant.

I was going to end my ride at the start / finish line, but with ~5 minutes or so left before I really needed to get off the bike and into the shower, I figured I’d stay on a little and let my legs spin out.

I ended up doing the first sprint again, though was unable to beat my previous time.

However I did manage to get my heart rate to the highest point of the ride at 188bpm. What an achievement. So long living into my 80s, fairly sure Zwift is curtailing my life expectancy with each ride at this point.

The metric I’m placing most emphasis on currently is the 20 minute time. I’m way off my best at this point.

I’m hoping my change back to riding early mornings will see this figure start to climb again. I do miss those guesstimated FTP increases that were previously so frequent.

I’ve found this before with other games that I initially play through a map at first and dislike it. Then over time, I come to like that map amongst the most the game has to offer.

Richmond is like this for me. I’m glad it’s not on heavy rotation – maybe 2 or 3 times a month – but when it’s on now, I want to ride it. It’s a challenge. Those lost three climbs in particular are brutal, sweaty affairs that whilst tough, are (I believe) amongst the best ways I will improve.

For me, getting ~43 minutes of exercise in before work, burning off 400+ calories, and keeping to my early riding approach is a massive win this week.

Happier with this graph today. There’s always going to be ways to improve, and days where I don’t do as well. But today felt like a good day, and the critical power chart is up there with my previous best performances.

I’d really like to hit above 190w weighted average power for a ride in the not too distant future. This clearly means riding harder, for longer, which I think is more of a mental than physical thing for me at this point. Maybe a group ride will force this out of me.

Not really sure what I’ll ride next. I have a really interesting / fun sounding event coming up over the weekend.

I’ll be on this one at Sunday 9am, so maybe see you there? If so, say hello 🙂

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