Blog – Billy Oliver’s Puzzle


Billy Oliver learning important lessons in his quest to be as fast as he can possibly be in a time trial

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Blog – Billy Oliver’s Puzzle
(read the blog here)

Puzzling it all together
Billy writes, before I start, I wore shorts on a ride this week with no leg warmers or bib tights so I’m officially calling an end on winter!

Now the season has sort of started with a few events to dip my toe back in, the racing events have become a mass change everything program for me it seems. I think having so many options and so many ways we can test stuff and try different things, I’ve sort of got lost in it all.

I want to try every little thing and jump massively from one set up to another in a crazy whirlwind of parts and kit and frustrating myself as I know I’m hitting the training targets. I know my power is way up and my weight now 7kg down from last year. Everything is there I just can’t seem to click it all together.

Lucky for me, Andy has a logical mind and the tools to get the job done which is the opposite to my headless chicken grab everything off the shelve and try it, dismiss it then try it again. To get to the bottom of everything, he has come up with a great way of testing my power drop off in certain positions as my ‘I’ll slam it as low as it goes two days before a race without a power meter to actually test anything and see how it goes’ is a pretty crap way of testing anything.


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Andy’s way involves getting set up on the turbo with a power meter and basically raising and lowering the front of the bike and seeing where my power drops off and comparing it to HR and using the lactate testing in each position to see what stresses each position, affects my power output, then finding an area of hip angle I can work in. Then it’s down to the velodrome to get the best position in that range.

We had a meeting of minds last week and looked at the position I had where I was crazy low to the point I was putting out over 40w less than normal and the fact that I had to raise my head to see was un-aero as well. I had been stupid enough to race like this and still scratch my head after wondering why I was still going so slow.

I think part of my problem was not having time to adapt in different positions so Andy has very kindly let me train on the 9.4 so I can train in the TT position. Once the TTE is ready and sorted, I will train a lot more in the TT position in a set up that works then I’m gluing everything down and just getting stronger in that position before swapping to anything different.

To that end, I’ve decided to not race until I’m sorted as me going out and performing way below where I should be, is not in anyone’s interest I feel.

Anyway the point of this blog was to basically tie up all the little bits I keep missing and forgetting to add to my blog. So many things are going on (most excited about working with but I will go into that fully next time but it’s the future I’m sure in performance management. I’ve got the Dursley road club 10 tt on the 11th April (shameless plug) which I’m organising (I say I’m organising, I’ve had a lot of help from the club so everyone deserves a shout out).

I was really honoured how my sponsors stepped up to support it especially Nopinz who have been super kind to me and supported me a lot even though they don’t officially sponsor me and offered over £200 worth of prizes plus Bike Science offering two lactate tests and the likes of jersey pocket and science fitness uk and Jwhiting nutrition offering top prizes it should be a great event, with coffee from Veloton and cakes from Little gems cakes as local as it gets from the town of Dursley.


Talking of Nopinz, the funky Velotoze overshoes dropped through the letterbox this week. My Smart ones are pretty much falling off my feet and these were about a fifth of the price and come with Blake’s aero guarantee. I thought it was worth a try. Getting them out, they felt like an elephant’s condom but once on the show, they are awesome. A super snug fit even on my small child like ankles and no wrinkled up areas anywhere. At that price point, I’m going to get a few spares so you can pull a shiny new pair out just for the key races. I haven’t had chance to test them or see how they wear but initially on fit, I’m hugely impressed.

It’s been a busy week for my postman as some serious carbon bling winged its way over from Ireland this week. It’s from a little very part time business called prologue Performance (I say very part time as David works too many hours in his day job, juggles a family and training and basically does the carbon work for the love for a limited amount of people).

I’ve had a berner style cage made for my sram red rear mech which really looks the business and a cover to clean up the cranks around the bb. They are completely one off bits and very skilfully done and super cheap for the amount of work that must of gone into getting it done.

Just search for David Heagney or prologue performance on Facebook and check out a lot of TT race prep stuff. I just wish I could get the TTE over to Ireland when it’s ready to get him to spend a bit of time working his magic on it.


The focus now is fully on getting the set up right. I’ve spent all of winter working on me as a rider and that area is going super strong, much better than I hoped, but now I need to look at the bike and position. It’s been hard not having a tt bike all winter as its normally a time I would spend looking at little changes and making improvements but the year is young and I have the support to fast track a lot of changes and equipment and hopefully be where I should be very soon.

It’s been a frustrating start to the racing year but that’s all 100% down to me. Everyone else involved have done their part perfectly so its just some of these things take time to fully click but that will just make ever success that little bit sweeter.

Previous blog … The only way is up
So the season began with a horrendous day and I was desperately hoping that things would change for the R10/22a but there was little chance of that. After a busy promising week with a great day at Newport velodrome with Bike Science and aero guru Rob Barrett, we got a very good position on the TTE and learnt a lot.

I’m looking forward to going back and trying a few things we didn’t get chance to test on the day. It’s a great way to test things in a stable environment and we got some constant data that showed the difference in the changes we made. So much so Bike Science Bristol are now offering a testing day at the velo as part of their extensive service which is great as it also gives me another area to explore future set ups.

I was feeling confident and ready. The illness had gone and I’m feeling strong again and the TTE was ready to roll out. That was until a broken front brake part put everything out as the part needed to be shipped and wouldn’t get here in time.

Luckily I could fall back on the Boardman 9.4, the only downside is being a shop test bike, it’s set up and ready for customers to test so I can’t go taking out cranks, extensions, bars etc etc to get it just right for me. That being the case, I thought I would try something new and very low at the front for Sunday’s race (see above).

Needless to say, it was a disaster but at least I learnt something now rather than at a key race. Looking at the forecast, it was going to be wet but I thought I would chance it and pray for a dry spot for my ride. On the road to the start, it was savage, a lot of spray and foggy and I was thinking it might not be run until I saw a small figure emerging from the mist on the other side of the road. The rain seemed to clear for a short spell but it wasn’t going to carry on and was soon raining hard again.

I started my ride already soaking wet from warmup hoping I would soon be back in the car and dry. I was again running without a power meter, I ride like a robot and have got so dependant on it that I am totally lost without it. People say listen to your body and the power meter makes no difference but when you train fully focused on it, taking it away for a race is a bit like someone blind folding me spinning me around twenty times then sitting me on the bike and telling me to go for it.

It was tail wind out and I went out far to slow as I didn’t even have the Garmin on as in the rush, I forgot to stick the Garmin mount on. So I really was riding blind as I could of got a bit of a indication of pace off my heart rate.

I finished and the legs felt like I had just finished a decent warm up, not a 10 mile time trial.

I knew I was going to be a lot slower than normal but in truth, it was a disaster in my mind and a waste of a trip.

Looking back, its a race in my legs. I learnt something from trying a set up that didn’t work and found out I need to ride to data or at least just destroy myself on the way out and hold on for the return. It’s been a frustrating start to the year and looking back, I should of just backed off if the set up wasn’t spot on and trained instead of racing.

It’s really hard to jump on a bike totally different to everything you normally train on day in day out and be at your best and I guess I can’t expect to just jump on any set up and everything will be fine.

It’s crazy as the form is there. The power is up everything, is going great but I still have the thought of letting people down in the back of my head. It’s at times like that the people behind you make the difference and put you back on the path.

Matt (Bottrill) assured me we are hitting all the targets and building strong and we are where we need to be for the bigger picture and Andy has everything sorted on the bike side and we will soon be set up and rocking a rotor LT power meter to give me the data I need. I’m going to spend some time in Bike Science riding the TTE on the turbo in the TT position until the brake parts are in and everything is just the way I need it.

If I’ve learnt anything this last few weeks, it’s to hold back until everything is right and focus on the big goals.

I guess learning the hard way is tough but it makes you stronger and makes you push that little bit harder to get it right and despite a rocky start, I’m feeling good and knowing it’s going to be awesome when everything clicks.

The podcast which I recorded with Mark Florence at came out Sunday and man I sound bad with a cold, but it was great to have the chance to do something new and it was great to be asked to do it as a three part series over the year.

Next up is the R25/7 but we have decided that if everything isn’t spot on we will just train on through and focus on the next race. It’s easy to forget how long the year is but we will keep building and learning until we get everything right. I have huge total faith in the people that support me so it won’t be long before everything clicks and the ropey start is but a distant memory.

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