This was only the second time I have ridden a 50M time-trial. The first was last year (blog here) and the weather was pretty poor. On tope of that I rode it on my road bike, with clip on tri-bars, a pointy hat too big for me and a “skinsuit” fashioned from compression base layers! This time, the weather was almost perfect. Sunny and only a light breeze. I was on my time-trial bike, with full aero helmet, skinsuit and kit too. No excuses then! Time to do the business.
There were plenty of very nice looking bikes on display, as well as a large contingent of Seamons CC people I recognise from the Wednesday Kiltons. I had a chat with a few , particularly asking how Charles was after the crash at the Kilton recently. I was off number 59. For those that don’t know, the fastest riders get numbers with a “5” or a “0” at the end to separate them. So I was the minuteman of a particularly fast rider – so I expected him to come past me at some point during the ride. I also noticed that Simon Bridge was number 70, and reckoned he would come past me as well – he’d definitely be more than 11 minutes quicker than me! Getting ready I remembered the pain in the gentleman’s area I’d felt at the recent 25 so I applied some chamois cream (now wash your hands!) and then applied some muscle pre-warming cream to my calves to try to avoid cramping. It’s important you get those the right way round!
I did some warmups in the lanes and then made my way to the start line in Twemlow Lane. After the start there is a technical section twisting through the lanes and then it heads slightly uphill past a farm with poor road surface, and over a bridge before joining the A535. I’ve learnt not to try to push too hard on this section so I was quite relaxed as I hit the main road and settled into a rhythm. I was aiming for a sub 2hr and 5 minute time which meant I’d mentally broken it down into doing five sub 25 minute 10’s. My first two 10’s were 24:26 and 24:10 so I was feeling pretty good. I was riding quite a bit below my threshold too, as I realised I would need to conserve some energy. Number 60 had come past me after about 36 minutes so I was pleased to hold out that long. I’d caught a few in front of me too.
I don’t know if it’s sitting in the same rigid position, the TT saddle or my skinsuit, but it was really painful at the top of my left leg, and no amount of fidgeting or re-adjustment was helping. On top of that my neck was also starting to really hurt from the position you have to hold (see photo below).
Mentally you just need to push through those sorts of niggles and carry on. The 25 mile split came at around 1hr and 1min so I knew I was on target. Not even having to come to a full stop at the farm for a tractor blocking the road phased me, and my third 10 mile split came up at 24:31. Feeling good. Then, disaster. I’d hit a couple of jarring potholes and my left hand tri-bar inexplicably came loose, twisting in its bracket and leaving me nowhere to rest my left forearm. I spent several miles pushing on and simultaneously messing with it to try to get it to stick in position. Then I tried resting my arm on the handlebar itself but that was too low and my left knee was catching it on each stroke. The only thing I could do was hold myself in the correct (ish) position and carry on. Unsurprisingly my fourth 10 split was 24:59. My saddle sore and my neck were both agony now, but I decided to push as hard as I could. My right calf was starting to cramp too. With the weather at the moment you never know when you will get another good opportunity. Shut up legs. Shut up neck.
I’d been passed by a couple of riders, both of whom had gone past relatively slowly and then I’d kept them in sight for a good number of miles. Simon Bridge went past me like a juggernaut, and was literally out of sight in no time at all. Different class.
As I turned onto the A50 for the last time I knew that the finish wasn’t far away. My body was saying ease off but my head was in the right place – keep pushing, keep pushing. My left shoulder was now in agony holding my arm in position, the tri-bar was moving about for fun and I was literally hanging on for the line. I passed the line in 2 hours and 3 minutes, which had wiped nearly 12 minutes off my only other time. I rolled back to the HQ and climbed off at my car feeling sick and jelly-legged, which I suppose is a good thing.
Overall, I finished 16th out of 63 starters, and apparently won £30 as the fastest in the handicap competition, with a new North Cheshire Clarion club record, which is nice.
Ride stats : 50 miles in 02:03:00 at 24.4mph average. 847ft of ascent. 2,208kcals used, average HR of 168bpm