So the day finally arrived, a beautiful Saturday morning, noticeably warmer, but with a slightly concerning wind blowing I finished packing my car up with everything I needed for today’s opening time trial event of the season, the Sheff Rec 25 mile 2Up at Hatfield Woodhouse. As I set off for the hour long journey I suddenly saw Mrs Supermurph waiving frantically at the door, clutching my Time Trial Helmet, I knew there’d be something I’d forget.
I’ve been incredibly anxious about this race, it will be only my second time on my new time trial bike and my training, due to an ongoing illness has not gone particularly well. But a positive midweek ride with a local club (South Normanton Cycling Club) had given me confidence that I’m making my way to pre-Christmas form so as I traveled up the M1 I tried not to let my nerves become a barrier. I arrived at the venue early, apart from Marc Etches the organiser I think I was the first there, two hours before my start time but better to be sat in the car looking at my iphone than stressing thinking am I going to make it on time. As the minutes ticked by more and more riders began to fill up the car park, unloading their bikes, bolting them onto turbo trainers to begin their warm ups and generally milling around, then I began to spot a few of my club mates arriving so I got out the car and began chatting to a few of them. It felt warm outside, but better still it was dry, the only negative factor being the wind, it was pretty strong and this was in the relative shelter of the car park.
My partner for the 2UP was Joel Candy, a fellow B&DCC member, Joel has been riding strong so I knew I’d have to give it my all to make our pairing an effective one, having only ever been on our TT bikes (on the road) once before and with no particular tactics discussed apart from how long our turns on the front would be we decided to kit up and go for a warm up. We practiced taking turns on the front, then without much warning we actually crossed the start line after the event had started, normally you’d get a severe telling off but we spun around quickly and apologised as we came back past. Arriving back at the HQ, I felt pretty good, the bike felt comfortable and despite the strong wind the nerves had subsided as I made my final preparations. Excess kit stripped off, bottle and bottle holder removed from bike (Bill Seddon told me it’d save me a few Watts), and then about 10 minutes before our 13:48 start time we set off for the start line.
5,4,3,2,1 go we both set off, I was initially on the front as we crested the uphill start down to the first roundabout, with the marshals in place and a few well located arrows we formed a tight pair, got in position and pedalled hard. For this section we had the wind slightly helping and at roughly one minute intervals we swapped from back to front, front to back as we powered along the road. We came around the next roundabout ok, but then I made a wrong turn and locked the back wheel up as I tried frantically to get back on track. Joel came around me and with a shout of “go, go, go!” we headed back to where we started from, this time the wind was noticeably in our faces. We’d been travelling at around 26-28mph on the way out, now it was more like 21-22mph so much harder work. On entering the next roundabout, the pairing who had started behind us obviously made some kind of mistake as one rider mounted the curb with a bang and was all over the place. I tried to maintain concentration as we turned left, crested the hill and came back past the start line, we’d covered roughly half the course at this point. My legs felt ok, but I was pretty dehydrated, my mouth dry as the bottom of a birds cage as I cursed Bill for mentioning the power saving.
We now had roughly 12 miles to go, 10 of those would be on the normal 10 mile course which I was at least familiar with, out to the roundabout then turn for home for the final five miles. The wind was in our faces all the way to the roundabout, Joel seemed stronger but I concentrated hard and dug in to ensure I did my turns even though I was now frothing at the mouth. In the week leading up to the event I’d figured that a time of around 1hour 2mins 30secs would be a decent effort given the forecasted wind, the fact we had never ridden together and that our bikes had only seen tarmac once before, but even though my brain wasn’t functioning quite as good I knew we were going faster, could we break the hour I thought? We approached the roundabout for the turn home, Joel came in a little quick, ran wide and I cut back inside him, as I stood up to generate some extra momentum I had an horrific pain in my calf, it felt like I’d been shot. I tried to pedal but not much was happening as Joel came past, “I’ve got cramp” I shouted as Joel backed off momentarily, I pedalled some more and it eased, I ground my teeth together in Tyler Hamilton style and pedalled some more, thankfully after about 100 metres the pain subsided. Joel shouted something that basically amounted to “right let’s empty the tanks and go full gas”, no problem I was thinking the same.
Joel went on the front as we sped up to 30mph, tailwind behind us and about 4.5 miles left it was no time for faffing around, we continued to rotate as we blasted down the final few miles of the course. Looking at the data afterwards we covered the final 5 miles at just under 30mph average, so we were flying. As the line approached we finished alongside each other and then made our way back to the HQ. I was desperate for a drink so flung the car boot up and guzzled down some chocolate milkshake to begin my recovery, my calf was hurting, the top of my hamstring also felt like it’d suffered some damage from the effort we’d put in too, but we got changed and headed into the HQ for more drink and some obligatory cake as we waited for our time to come up on the projector.
Joel indicated to me it would be over an hour, but when the official time came up of 1 hour 0 min and 34 seconds I was pretty pleased, we’d lost about 10 seconds on that roundabout and then a bit more with my cramp but we were pretty happy with that for our first go, we know there’s much more to come. At the HQ I continued looking up at the timing board, we were then shocked to see we’d beaten Bill and Simon, I viewed their time of 1hour 1min 50 something with a little scepticism, they must have suffered a mechanical of some kind. Or had they? Although the feeling of beating those guys was good, it did only last for a short while as they confirmed they were 2 minutes quicker than that due to the timekeeper getting mixed up, but still, to be only 40 odd seconds behind them was a good effort from us. Mick and Xavi took the club honours with a cracking time to come 7th overall, Joel and I were 16th out of 62 pairings, a solid start and for me personally a real confidence builder. As you can see from the results list, a number of B&DCC pairings took part all producing encouraging results so well done to all of them.
Next week it’s the Retford Wheeler’s 10 mile individual time trial, if I can shake off a few niggles I’ll be looking to smash my PB for 10 miles and give myself a marker to beat.
Thanks for reading.