Time Trial Three – the double-whammy

This evening was my third attempt at time-trial racing. Following the last two races I’d suffered  quite painful muscle soreness in the neck for a few days afterwards, so my main aim tonight was to try and ride with a more relaxed upper body and not try to rip the TT bars off the handlebar. And also to obviously try and ride a little faster than last week.

Setting up the bike from the boot of the car

Setting up the bike from the boot of the car

There was a strong tailwind for the outward leg of the circuit which allowed me to stick it in the biggest gear and churn out a fast pace. Hearing the sound of the tyres buzzing over the tarmac was really exhilarating and I found myself relaxing and enjoying it.

However, the return leg was soul destroying as I fought the strong wind. I had left the bar-mount of my Garmin at home so didn’t actually know my speed, which may have fortunately allowed me to just concentrate on finding some momentum and form. At times it felt like I was crawling at a snail’s pace and I was constantly waiting to be overtaken … but it never happened. Obviously everyone else was suffering as badly.

Lap 2 was more of the same, except the return leg seemed twice as tough. I told myself that the wind must have picked up, but knew deep down it was just my fatigue. In the end I completed the first lap 25 seconds quicker than last week’s time, and the second lap 5 seconds slower, at an overall average speed of 22.6mph. This was a touch faster than last week, and for twice the distance so I’m pleased with the further improvements. Tomorrow I will be back on the commuter bike for a slow, relaxing ride to work.

Time trial take two

Yesterday was my second attempt at time-trialing. It was the same flat 5 mile course as last week where I’d produced an average speed of 21 mph with no tactics other than cycling as fast as I could.

This week I set myself the goal of averaging 22 mph but with the aim of trying to pace myself, rather than red-lining and hanging on like a slobbering wreck. I made a few tweaks to the bike (raised the saddle a centimetre and removed the spacers from beneath the stem) to get myself lower and flatter and also turned up a little earlier and did a warm up lap where I surprised myself by averaging 20 mph with a steady and controlled level of effort. This gave me good confidence.

Under starter's orders

Under starter’s orders

The outbound leg felt good with an average speed just above my target of 22 mph. Just before the turn I was overtaken, however rather than feeling demoralised I just felt respect for the quicker pace of the other rider. I had set myself a target and wasn’t about to get too distracted by other people. I felt good enough on the return leg to drop down a gear and increase the pace a touch. I pushed the last mile hard and crossed the line one minute quicker than the previous week at an average speed of 22.4 mph. I’m pleased with the performance and am looking forward to making further improvements over the season. Next week is 2 laps of this circuit and I think my goal will be to try and maintain this week’s pace for the full distance.

The time-trial

This evening was my first experience of loitering around on an A-road lay-by dressed in Lycra with a number stuck to my back. Fortunately this unusual activity preceded the more exciting first experience of proper time-trial racing. It all started by having to endure a stressful ten minutes getting dressed and then setting up my bike from the back of my car with a giant Alsatian barking incessantly at me. Admittedly this was self-inflicted after choosing to park directly outside a farm entrance, however as I pedalled off to the TT rendezvous I started to have doubts that maybe my helmet was on back-to-front or my wheels weren’t properly attached to the frame. Next time I’ll find a more peaceful place to park!

As beautiful as an English A-road can get

The scene

I arrived at the start, paid my entry fee and received my race number. I then had the privilege of my race number being pinned to my jersey by local TT legend Paul Jones of traumfahrrad fame. I’ve been reading his blog for ages now which largely interested and inspired me enough to join my local cycling club and have a go at time-trialing. So it was nice to finally meet him. I also had a chat with a few of the other cyclists who were all equally friendly and freezing cold. It was cold and windy.

Loitering with intent

Loitering with intent

When my time came I set off at a steady pace and slowly worked my way up to a level which I felt I could maintain. There was a strong headwind on the outward leg so I tried to ignore my speed and just concentrate on gauging my effort. It was also my first time using the clip on TT bars since last summer so I also needed to concentrate on my balance, especially when a couple of lorries hurtled past and replaced the headwind with a swirl of turbulence.

Just before the halfway point and the turnaround I overtook my minute man. This obviously felt excellent. All way out I had been looking forward to the tailwind of the return leg and it was a great relief to finally feel its benefit and see my speed going up to a constant 23 – 24 mph. I was just starting to have thoughts of catching another person when I was overtaken. This was humbling. I actually heard him before I saw him and when I finally caught up with him (after the finish line obviously) I told him that he’d sounded more like a car than a bike. It was quite scary.

I completed the 5.2 miles in 14:44 at an average speed of 21 mph. But the most important thing was that I really enjoyed the experience and will be back again next week for some more …