Kate Allen - National Time Trials Roundup 2022.
This year has been an absolute whirlwind to say the least, but I’ve loved every lactic second of it!
Getting COVID back in March 2020 hit me hard, I trained through the early symptoms and ended up developing COVID pneumonia – which saw me in A&E twice, and in follow up with respiratory consultants to ensure that there was no long lasting damage (which there thankfully was not). It took me a long time to get back to my ‘normal’ – with the haze of ‘long COVID’ persisting well into 15-16 months post infection. I found myself getting tired much more easily, I could not bounce back between sessions and ached a lot. I generally lost my drive for doing anything competitive, prioritising instead, recovery and the maintenance of some form of body ‘equilibrium’.
I tried to start the 2021 season but only got two races in before calling it a day – my body was simply not ready.
Fast forward to the start of 2022, I had spent the winter seeing a PT weekly and was riding my bike most days, albeit not ‘trained’ I felt fitter, fresher and healthier. I didn’t feel ready to return to structured training, but I caught up with Matt in February, and he ran through the fundamentals of what I should consider were I to start to build back to competition – e.g how & when to build + the kind of numbers to hit etc. I self-coached myself for a couple more months, and after recording a couple of respectable results in the early season, determined that I was in much better health and able to take the load of a structured training week, so we excitingly started back up again at the beginning of May.
A big focus for the season has been the nationals, and this kicked off with the National 25 on 11th June 2022
Although I was able to pull a strong ride out of the bag on the day, and finish 2nd, the lead up to this event was very challenging, as I was unable to sleep for the five nights leading up – only getting in 3-4 hours of fragmented sleep in a night. Unsure of how and where this came from, I’ve sought out some advice from the doctor since then, and a few modifications to routine seem to have helped a lot. I thoroughly enjoyed the event though, an undulating course, it featured plenty of ups/downs and long drags, which suits me well as a rider.
Next on the Nationals list was the National 50, on 26th June 2022
50 mile events are my strength, long enough to play to my endurance strength, but not so far that my lack of concerted endurance training doesn’t find me compromised. It was an incredibly windy day, so much so that I contacted a friend of mine who was travelling up after me to bring a shallower rimmed front wheel with him for me – deciding it was better be slightly less aerodynamic, were it to mean having the stability in challenging conditions. With a headwind on the way out, and a tailwind on the return leg, my race tactics was to ride the first half like a 25 mile TT, and to then get blown back home with whatever I had left in my legs. This paid off well, and I was able to enjoy a pretty comfortable lead by the time I reached the turnaround. On the way back, I simply did not have enough gears, and although I lost some time to second placed Jo here, I was able to hold on, and took the win by 39 seconds.
The next National event was the National 100 on 10th July 2022
I was a bit of a last minute entrant to this event, having had it down as a ‘possible’ at the season start. But following some strong results over 50 miles, I decided it would be worth giving it a stab. And I’m really glad I did! My lack of long training miles showed through a little, and my power curve was a steady ‘descent’ from start to finish, but I was really pleased with how I executed the race. Looking back I could have probably given it a little bit more – I was fairly fresh at the finish – but there was no way I was contending for 1st place, with Jo Patterson over five minutes ahead. An inspiring ride!
And finally, I raced the National 10 on 27th August.
The 10 is not a distance that plays to my strengths, as I much prefer being able to settle in/warm up to a race, by the time I’ve got into my rhythm in a 10, the race is over. But I very much enjoy racing them nevertheless, and I went into this event with a bit of confidence, with a strong result at a 15 mile event I did in Newbury the week beforehand.
We travelled up to Yorkshire the afternoon before, and I popped in to visit Matt on the way up, to see if he could check my bike over for me. And do that he did – and then some, with a new chain, front tyre, polish and pep talk – a thoroughly successful trip on all accounts!
Race day morning came, and I wasn’t feeling my finest, being on the worst day of my cycle, and with a couple of days of bad sleep (which often aligns with this time of the month for me). But having experienced similar for the 25 I remained optimistic, knowing that it is possible to work through it, but that it just takes a little bit more in way of mindset focus and race day tactics. I recced the course in the morning, and then lined up to start my race just before 1pm. I set out feeling strong, and focused on laying down the best power I could, in particular on the undulations, and managed to cover the first 5 miles in just over 10 minutes. I felt a bit flat on the return leg, not helped by an unexpected headwind, but pushed on through and was able to keep the legs invigorated by putting in some gentle surges. I spent everything I had in the final mile and crossed the line feeling satisfied that I’d spent what I could.
I was delighted to learn that it was enough to win the ladies field with a 21:09 ride + new course record.
I have a couple of local races left for the season, and then the Closed Circuit Championships on 9thOctober.
Training has been going well in recent weeks, although I’m pretty fatigued from the school holidays/work/training balance – so recovery will now be a big focus for me. Matt has been an absolute pro at moving things around/adjusting load where needed to this end, and I’m looking forward to seeing what more we can achieve before the season end.