Two weeks ago, after my first time trial of the season, I foolishly set myself a target for my second, a 25-mile dash along the HCC113 Amersham Road course west of London organised by the Hillingdon Triathletes. I said that if it was a good day, I’d go under one hour four minutes.
It was a good day. And I rode the course in… 1hr 3mins 37 seconds. Result.
Of course, experienced time-triallists will look at that time and think “So what?” and maybe they’re right to do so. But I’m dead chuffed. This was only my second 25-mile TT, it was on a “sporting” course (that’s a euphemism for rolling roads) on a road bike with dodgy wheels – and I hit my target. This is incredibly gratifying. There are going to be many days ahead when I mess up, so I’m determined to enjoy the successes while I can.
To be honest, it was pretty much ideal weather for a March TT. Fairly, but not too, bright; cool, but not too cool; and a mild breeze which was behind us on the way back home. I know the course a little and I’d spent the whole week looking at weather reports to get an idea of wind speed and direction (much to Jayne’s annoyance, whose advice was to simply watch my heart rate). I also thought about why I ran out of gas on my previous TT and came up with a strategy to ride conservatively on the way out – slightly uphill and into the wind – and gradually wind it up on the way back, so that I’d be at my threshold for the last couple of miles.
It worked like a dream really. I’m more comfortable with the tri-bars on the bike and found the position surprisingly ok. I rode well and felt strong and fluid more or less from start to finish. I restrained my desire to chase people down, but rode my own race and, knowing the roads, stepped on the gas at the right moments. I even finished with a little to spare, which was much better than feeling on the verge of collapse as in previous TTs.
It’s not really about times this early in the season. These are training rides really and an opportunity to get my body used to time-trialling while learning the courses and how to ride them. But I was very pleased with my 1.03, not least because it meant I placed around 12th equal out of 54 starters. Again, I think I might have been the fastest rider on a non-specialist bike, so that makes it even sweeter. More significantly, it means I’m in good shape for my first big goal of the season, which is to break the hour.
My time also meant I won the Willesden CC handicap competition this time, but I wasn’t the fastest Willesden rider. That honour again goes to Pete Dixon, who rode an excellent 1.01. He’s flying. I beat Hippy again (he’s not too happy about his performance); Lance wasn’t on a great day (he’s also not happy) and John Williams, who dragged me to the Alps for an epically painful ride last summer, had his first taste of TT-ing. I’m not sure he liked it. Keep going, though, John – it gets easier. Not.
And that’s about it really. Mike the Bike and Andy from the Gregarios Superclub Ciclista kindly came down to cheer me on (that was worth about 20 seconds – thanks chaps) and then made my life hell with a brisk ride through the Chilterns afterwards. Altogether I clocked up 100 miles for the day and went to bed tired but happy. Chuffed with that.
- Read Lance’s official report on the Willesden CC website
- Read Lance’s more personal account of the day
- Read Hippy’s moan and make an offer for his bike (I have)