As I’ve previously blogged about one of my cycling goals for this year is to try my hand at time trialling. Whilst I couldn’t make the first few club TT events I finally managed to get out a couple of weeks ago on a very wet Tuesday evening for my first ever 10 mile TT.
The weather had been pretty awful all day with a lot of rain and therefore standing water on the roads, however the forecast showed the rain stopping about 7pm so I made my way up to the start a couple of miles North of Codicote. As a first outing this was all about just getting used to the procedures and getting a basic idea of my TT ability. The only goal I’d set myself for the year was to get under 30 minutes, or in other words a 20mph average. There was a small turnout of 13 people and I set off first as I figured I’d probably be the slowest.
Due to the wet weather the start was moved a couple of hundred yards up the road so technically this wasn’t a full race. However I managed an official time of 30 minutes and 37 seconds so not far off my initial goal. I got a poor start as I basically let the starter push me off rather than using any of my own effort. I was also hesistant at the first turn onto the main road, not trusting the marshall telling me all was clear and not using the width of the road to get a good line.
However, after the start it was a case of just pushing as hard as I could all the way to the turn and back. As you can see from the Strava data, the course is basically more downhill on the way out with a couple of short climbs, then the reverse on the way back with more longer drags. Whilst it is still basically flat the second half is definitely harder and you need to save something for a good finish. I spent most of the time in the drops but did find myself coming up onto the hoods a few times for a breather, and also dropping into a lower gear than I probably should have been in. I was passed by three riders before the end.
By the end though I was shattered. Crossing the line I struggled to call out my number to the time keepers and could feel a distinct wheezy chest feeling that I hadn’t had since my asthma disappeared about 15 years ago. To be honest I had quite an uncomfortable night’s sleep following it and couldn’t breathe fully and deeply for a couple of days as my lungs recovered from the effort. This took me a bit by surprise.
Despite this however I was soon thinking about how I could improve (start, turns, more aero, more pain tolerance) next time, and so it was I headed back up this week. With the much better weather (but the same 10mph or so headwind on the way out) there were many more people turning out and I found myself going off in twentieth place. This time we were starting from the normal point, so there was more chance to build up speed before turning left onto the main road. This time around I got a much better start and turn and then it was just a case of measuring my effort on the first half in the knowledge that I had to keep something in reserve. At the turn my Garmin was showing an average of above 22mph so I knew I was going well and on course for a sub-30 minute time. I’d also stayed in the drops all the way, and in fact only came out of them once on the penultimate drag on the way back. On the final hill up to the turn-off before the finish I pushed about as hard as I have ever done on the bike to keep my speed up and on crossing the line could see that my average was still above 20mph. I cycled slowly back to the finish line, catching my breath, and checked in with the time keepers to find I’d done 29.11! Well over a minute faster than my first time out. What’s more I recovered much quicker and had a very decent night’s sleep!
It is a bit early to say that I’ve got the TT bug, but I’ll definitely be heading out more times over the summer. However now the 30 minute goal has been achieved I’m not setting any other goal other than to feel that I’ve tried as hard or harder each time and feel myself getting better. Times will not come down forever and conditions on each day will always play a part anyway. Now it is just about learning to enjoy the pain!