A colleague at work asked me to try my hand at TT racing after we had been out on several bike rides after work. TT racing scared me as he said a good target would be to complete the 10 mile course in under 30 minutes. Before the London Triathlon my best 10 mile was in the region of 33 minutes. I resisted his suggestions as he had already mentioned a time to aim for and I was nowhere near it.
However after London when I realised that my bike position was incorrect due to my "sticky out" knees and after I had raised my saddle by 40ish mm, my speed increased. During the bike leg of the sprint relays I averaged a speed of just over 20mph which would mean that I could complete the 10 mile TT course in around 30 minutes.
TT racing for the uninitiated is basically you racing yourself. The courses must contain an out and back and vary in distance. there are 10 mile courses, 25 mile courses, 50 mile courses and 100 mile courses. You push yourself as hard as you physically can to complete the alloted distance. Yes there are winners but you are only racing yourself in the aim of setting a PB. Each rider sets off at one minute intervals.
There is a course near to where I work which was 9.7 miles long and run by Lincsquad. The bonus of this course is that it contained part of the route for the Brigg triathlon which I am racing on the 29th September.
I decided to give this a bash. It was the last time that Lincsquad were holding this TT for 2013. I arrived at the Pub car park over an hour before the race was meant to start and thought I would have a low starting number which would mean I was off early. No such luck I was given number 48. This was a good omen for me as my childhood house number was 48 so this put me in a good mood. The thing that didn't was the near two hour wait for my start time.
I have honestly never been to the toilet as much as I did during that two hours. I'd tried to take on a lot of fluid before leaving work so that I wouldn't need a bottle on the bike. That backfired somewhat as I must have paid a vists at least 8 times.
I also had to deal with nerves, having never completed a TT before I had no idea what to expect and this made me nervous. There were bikes a lot fancier than mine in the car park and this made me even more nervous.
About 15 minutes before my start I decided to go and warm up. I pedalled the opposite way to the course and managed to get my heart rate up. Desperate not to miss my start time I arrived back at the start line too early. The next 8 minutes were agony. I knew my body was cooling down but daren't leave in case I missed my start time. Finally competitor number 47 was off and I wheeled into position. At 30 seconds to go the starting assitant took hold of my bike to hold me steady and told me to clip in.
I was really doing this.
I clipped in and felt weird putting my trust in someone to hold me upright. After a few wobbles I relaxed.
The starter counted down
I pushed down on my pedals with everything I had in me and was away. This was it me against me. Lets see what I could do.
I quickly got up to speed, I think I even overcooked it as according to the data my HR rocketed from 70 bpm to 196 bpm in the space of 30 seconds. I settled into a rhythm quickly and was in the zone. I really wish my cadnce sensor had worked so I could work out what my cadence was. Instead I had to monitor my heart rate to estimate my effort. I tried to keep my HR between 167 and 172 so that I could guage my effort. There was very little wind on this evening, if anything there was a slight cross wind. I was really enjoying this. I felt like I was going at a good pace as well.
The route passes through Hibaldstow and the road surface through this village left something to be desired but I knew to expect this as I had ridden on it before. The last half a mile ebfore the turn point is deceptively unflat, I really had to put the effort in to maintain my pace, I even had to change gears for this section. I stayed tucked in the aero position for most of the ride out and only came out of position at the turn point so I had access to my brakes. I turned the roundabout and was straight into a downhill section. Back into the aero position and time to change down the gears to maximise my speed. I pushed harder on the way back or felt like I did as I knew with each stroke of the pedal I was closer to the finish line.
I had reached the turn point in 14:xx according to my quick glance at my watch. Sweet if I managed the same back I would be well under my 30 minute target. The way back seemed a lot sorter than the way out. On the way back I got overtaken by two competitors number 49 and 52, number 52 was on a stealth TT machine that I was envious of and flew past me with the familiar "whoofff whooff" of a disc wheel. I love and hate this noise in equal measure. I love it as I appreciate the speed they are travelling at but hate it as I feel like i am hardly moving as they fly past. I reached the level crossing which was approximately one mile from the finish line.
I remembered something the starting assistant had said to me at the start line. "When you get to the level crossing give it everything, you should have nothing left for a sprint finish". This had been mirrored by my colleague who described a TT as a "constant effort which consistently gets harder the closer you get to the finish." Time to put the hammer down so to speak. I put everything into that last mile and could barely muster the energy to shout out my race number as I crossed the finish line. I was well and truly spent. I warmed down by pedalling past the finish line at a relaxed cadence. When I remembered I stopped my watch and the time read 27:22.
I had shocked myself. Three months ago if you'd asked me I said I would never get under 30 but with a quick position change I had gone quicker than I thought was possible. I was a full 2:38 quicker than I wanted.
After I had fully warmed down, I got a better surprise, my official time was 27:17.
I packed my bike up and left the venue and on my way home I was elated. This must be the endorhine high that people talk about. I can't describe how happy I was.
I really wish I had tried TT before as it is such a wonderful experience. Am I hooked? You bet I am. I can't wait for the season to start in 2014 to see what I can do.
I've even convinced myself to buy a new TT specific bike to make me even quicker. Now I just need to save for one.
I also need to experiment with fuelling to work out if it is possible to maintain this pace for the 112 miles of an ironman bike course. The mind boggles. I feel there will be some interesting rides happening in early 2014.
Thanks to Lincsquad for running the TT I had a blast.
The day after the TT the results were released and my time time of 27:17 was confirmed and I was the 34th fastest rider out of a possible 54. I was really pleased with this for my first TT.
Bring on 2014.