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Race Report - Sheffrec CC TTT

Nowhere was Planet X technology more on display than on the bikes of Michael, Stewart and Pete, three Planet X riders who took part in the Sheffrec CC 2-up last weekend. Here’s what they had to say...

This Saturday saw the first time trial of the season for the North Midlands district with Sheffrec CC’s 25 mile 2-man Team Time-Trial at Hatfield Woodhouse. The Hatfield Woodhouse course is flat and exposed, with a reputation for killer side-winds and entrants had been watching the weather with trepidation after the recent spell of storms and gales. On the day, the clouds cleared and winds never rose, providing the racers with perfect conditions for some fast times. All the big gear was brought out to capitalise on the good luck: deep section rims and disc wheels that don’t often get an outing were all on display with the wind stayed away. Plenty of Planet X gear was on show amongst the racers, from the semi-aero AL30s wheels to our deepest 82/101 carbon tubulars. 

Stewart Smith

Stewart has been specialising in TT for years and is even organising this year’s National Hill Climb Championship. Stuart and his partner were gunning for a top-3 position and got it with a time of 54:12!

Saturday 1st March saw my first competitive outing on my Planet X Exocet in the awesome Guru blue colours. Anyone who knows the Hatfield Woodhouse course also knows it has its own weather climate, different to anywhere else. On a pan-flat course with little shelter, even the slightest breeze feels like a howling gale, usually a cross wind so the riders get no respite. I rode the course on the Exocet twice before the race, getting used to the position and making any necessary tweaks to ensure I was comfortable. Tweaks were minimal as I had had a Retül fit from Chris Last at Planet X, who really knows his stuff. Being a usual tester, I am never happy with anything so I tried moving my armrests in to get extra aero - bad mistake! My body just wouldn’t bend into that position, so I reverted back to the original set up via Chris.

As I found out after receiving a mega kicking in training the week before, my partner is much shorter than me and I wouldn’t be getting much shelter if it was windy. Confident in the set up and knowing the 101 rear wheel is quick I opted to use my Planet X tri spoke instead of the 82 front, just in case it was windy!

The Planet X Exocet 2 bike is available now! Click here to buy

Planet X tackle the Sheffrec on their Exocet 2 TT bikes

Photo - Dave Morgan / TWG Photography

Well, the weather Gods did well and Saturday started with blue skies and virtually no wind, although it was a bit chilly. With 70 teams of 2 riders on the start sheet, competition was going to be fierce and everyone testing themselves in what was for many the first event of the year. After having a good warm up, we approached the start line in perfect time as the timekeeper shouted "30 seconds to go". We stopped and the marshals held us up – 5, 4, 3, 2 ,1, go – we were off! The heart rate was going up and the lungs and legs were rasping as we got into our ride. Quickly up to speed on the outward stretch, the bike felt fast, stable and strangely effortless as we were flying along the road, watching my computer speed up - 26mph, 27, mph, 28mph, 32mph. The road surface on this course, like many in South Yorkshire, is shocking but I felt very little vibration through the frame, even with the tubs pumped up to 160psi. Sharing the pace well up to the first turn, we had already passed 2 teams that started in front of us and we were still feeling ok. As the race progressed the pain in the legs and lungs increased but we kept going; after all it was only 25 miles. Slight twinges of cramp went through my left calf. My body not used to this effort I rode through it up to the far turn at Blaxton and round the tight roundabout knowing we only had 5 miles to the finish. Shifting through the gears with the Sram Red kit, getting the pedals turning and putting in huge efforts, trying to get to the finish quicker so the pain stops. Bouncing along the road we passed another two teams that had started in front of us, we could see the finish from here, all out effort now. We flew past the finish line knowing that on the day we had given it our all. We finished with a time of 54.12 and an average speed of 27.7mph which we were both very pleased with: it was the fastest I have ever gone on the Hatfield Woodhouse course and my partner had only gone quicker in a 3-up team.

The Exocet took some admiring glances back at race HQ and the Guru flowers were a great talking point. A bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them, but personally I love them; I always like something a bit different. The results were in and we had finished in 3rd place which was hugely satisfying for the first event of the year, on a new bike and on a locally known 'slow' course. I’m really looking forward to competing in more events and seeing what the Exocet will do on a 'quick' course. The handling was great, gear changing was simple but most of all, it felt quick: getting the pedals round felt a natural movement, just wanting to get my legs going quicker and quicker.

Bring on next week!

Michael Hobson & Peter Morris - Planet X Racing Team

This was Michael and Pete’s first time-trial together and Michael’s first time-trial ever! They’ve both committed to a full season of TT racing this year and were determined to make the most of their first outing on Saturday.

Here’s Pete’s take on things:

Well Saturday’s race was fantastic. Riding with a teammate is new to both Michael and I, but we worked well together taking solid stints on the front. The pace was blistering - fastest we've clocked throughout our training sessions. We soon caught the team who set off before us and continued to make great time. Then, in the final stretch to the finish we gave it full gas and really emptied the power tanks. Alas, however, a terrible patch of broken tarmac followed by a cavernous hole bursts BOTH his tubular tyres. Gutted. We had to abandon the race. Ah, well, nobody's fault. Thank goodness nobody was hurt or injured. Having analysed the GPS data, the accident happened at 52 minutes and we had less than 4 miles to go. Rough calculations indicate we would have clocked a sub 60 min finishing time, probably somewhere in the region of high 58 min or low 59 min. That time would have gotten us a fantastic race result and seen us right up at the sharp end. We had a great day and it was superb fun. Now looking forward to our next TT - a solo 10 mile effort - on 22 March!

Michael Hobson & Peter Morris ride Planet X Exocet carbon time trial bikes on the Sheffec CC team time trial

Photo - Dave Morgan / TWG Photography

And Michael:

Pete’s already broken the bad news about the pothole but as you can tell we are pretty philosophical about it. We didn’t have any expectations coming into our first race and it has been a great learning experience regardless of the less-than-ideal outcome. When I first signed up, I said I’d be happy as long as we weren’t overtaken and so overtaking someone else was a nice bonus! In the end, we adjusted our target to a sub-1hr time and we were on track to achieve that too.

I’ve definitely caught the time-trial bug despite the inauspicious end to my first event. It is just totally different to normal riding. Only in TT do you go absolutely hell-for-leather, start to finish. However hard you train, you always have that voice in the back of your head telling you to hold something back for the ride home. In a road race, tactics take the place of cycling as fast as possible all the time. All that is forgotten in a time trial, and it opens your legs up to a whole world of pain that they never normally see. It makes gauging efforts that much more difficult. There is also a sense in which you are only really racing against yourself. Stewart would have beaten us by a good four minutes even if we had finished but we were both working to our own targets and both were met (or would have been if it weren’t for the pothole!). Each rider can set their best time on each course and each distance and work to beat it next time independent of the racers starting before and after them. It’s far easier to track one’s progress than in a road race series where luck and race dynamics can affect performance independent of one’s own fitness. If you want to know exactly how fit you are, get yourself down to a time trial!

Check out the full range of Planet X carbon wheels here or see the product grid below.

7 March 2014

Planet X Carbon Wheels

Comments

  • Simon T
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    Did this race too. Second race on my Exocet 2 and first race with the 82/101 wheels. Very impressed ! 56:35 for us - 12th place overall.