It's almost time to do my next blood test to see whether I've managed to raise the levels that were deemed low in my previous tests (vitamin D, testosterone) and lower those that were a little high (prolactin). In the month since the last test I've been taking supplements that should hopefully address the deficiencies (together with an honest effort at eating better, I've even started eating this thing called 'breakfast').
Do I feel any better? Well yes and no. I feel a tiny bit leaner; maybe a sign that some of the stubborn fat caused by stress and low testosterone is beginning to shift (still no sign of that six pack though). I feel a bit more energized through the day, though this hasn't really led to any discernable improvement in performance yet.
Racing has continued to be disappointing, albeit with a few glimmers of hope.
I managed a decent PB on a local 15-mile course at the beginning of June, although as usual the power was down on last year. Then a week later I hit a pothole two miles into a 10-mile TT and both tyres blew instantly. It took four minutes to go the two miles out at full gas and 45 minutes to walk back to the car, with more car drivers trying to kill me as I walked my stricken bike along the road (no footpath). I guess at least I should be thankful the rims and bike frame seem ok, it was an almighty impact and indicative of how bad some of the local roads have become.
One new tubular and one new clincher tyre (and latex tube) later, I ventured out again (on a different course this time!) and got within 20 seconds of a course PB on H10/3R. Again the power was low but the body position must be pretty good.
Then last week it was something a little different with the road bike getting a TT outing for the annual Ben Owen Memorial time trial on HCC118A. The weather forecast said it would be dry. It lied. There was a light drizzle from the get-go but by the time the last riders (including me) went off after 8.20pm it was properly wet and light was fading fast.
I went off a little too hard, thinking that I'd test the theory that the TT bike position is part of the cause of my low power (it's not). I managed to hold what would have been an average race duration power from 2020 for all of five minutes. I could feel I was really grinding the gears at a much lower cadence than I normally would hold (I learned later this isn't unusual when the conditions are crappy, it makes you feel a bit more in control of the bike apparently). Some of the turns and roundabouts were pretty damned greasy and I wasn't in the mood for taking risks.
I could, however, see I was catching the guy ahead ever-so-slowly. So my mission became to catch him before the finish line. Having tiptoed over the final roundabout (lots of mud on the exit) I dug as deep as I had (my highest 60-second power was in the last minute of the race) and caught him with maybe 250 metres to go. He tried to kick but I had momentum and slid past. My one and only win of the evening.
It turned out that seven of the top 10 (eight of the top 11) all raced before the heavens opened. So maybe they took advantage of the drier roads. Or maybe they were just faster. Unfortunately for my team, we were all off pretty late (and wet) so only a couple of us troubled the top of the leaderboard (me not included).
As a solo road bike event, it was kinda fun. As a race experience it was another bad day at the office.
Next up is a midweek 25 on a course I don't much like (hopefully less potholes, though). The course has no less than seven roundabouts to negotiate (one roundabout once and three two times) which means traffic is pot luck. That said, I haven't raced it in 2017 and looking back at Strava the power wasn't anything special then, so who knows, maybe there's a chance of a course PB!
Maybe I'd better hold off on taking the blood for the tests till Thursday. Might need every drop...