First 25 mile TT
Today I rode in my first 25 mile time trial. It was the VTTA (Veteran’s Time Trial Association) 25, on the E2/25 course, which starts at Newmarket, and runs down the A14 and onto the A11 towards Cambridge. It’s a dual carriageway course.
I was supposed to ride this course two weeks ago in the Shaftesbury CC event, but pulled out on the day due to illness (and the poor weather forecast, if we’re laying all our cards on the table). I’ve been very keen to have a crack on this track, because it’s the fastest in the area. TT events are sometimes oversubscribed, and if they are, priority is given based on PB, so it’s important to grab the opportunity to ride a fast course when it is presented. As it happens, I did not make the cut, having no previous time. The event was oversubscribed and I was a reserve. I made it clear to the organiser that I would turn up, come what may, as I was very keen to ride. I was rewarded with a phone call this morning to say a place had been found. They’d set me off between the women and the men. I did consider naming this post ‘The Androgenous Time Triallist’, but thought better of it 🙂
After my previous tomfoolery with superglue, I’ve stripped back the race routine in terms of kit I take, and pre-race activities I plan to do. It’s just simply turn up, get changed, get on the road 30 minutes before my start time, for a warmup, then get to the line. So it went today. I just farted about on the bike for a bit, then went to the start line with about 10 minutes to spare. There was a line of ladies waiting to start, which is no bad thing at all let me tell you 😉 and another reserve guy turned up to set off one minute before me. There was a bit of confusion with the starters, who thought we were starting later. This is not ideal, because you need the starters, the timekeepers at the end of the course, and the HQ all to be in sync and know when everyone is starting. Otherwise times might fail to be recorded, or otherwise screwed up. Anyway, 1420 came and I was off.
I had driven the length of the course earlier in the day, to familiarise myself with the undulations, and to make sure I knew exactly where the turn points were on the course. It’s ridiculously simple, being a dual carriageway, but I wouldn’t want to turn up with no idea where to get off to turn around, for example. The start is downhill, so I had no problem following the ‘start slowly’ mantra. It’s difficult to apply big power downhill. I settled into a reasonable rhythm Average power was too high, because I’m used to riding only at 10 mile pace. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sustain this for 2.5 times that distance, so I had to try and reign it in.
I had two goals. The first, baseline goal was to go under the hour. This requires any speed in excess of 25mph (hopefully this is obvious, for a 25 mile TT!). This was the absolute minimum acceptable result. Although I’ve only been managing 25.5mph or so for my 10s at Sawtry, I knew from looking at other rider’s data that this should equate to a higher average speed for 25 miles, due to the nature of this specific course. So on a good day like today, 25mph should be possible. The second ‘stretch’ goal was to try and dip below 57 minutes, which would require 26.3mph. After a small number of miles I was hovering around 26mph, which was perfectly ok as the first few miles are slightly uphill. As I carried on towards the turn, the average crept up, towards 26.5mph. I was pretty happy with this, but I didn’t know what effect the return journey would have. Would the wind assist, or not? How much uphill/downhill is there?
I negotiated the turn, a raised roundabout above the A11, without too much drama, had to use the brakes to filter in behind a car, but I was soon back on the A11 heading back towards Newmarket. Average power on the out leg had been over 280 watts, but it was falling all the time. Started out close to 300, until I remembered it wasn’t a 10, then it came back down, a mixture of necessity through fatigue, and deliberate reigning-in. Having never ridden a 25 I was scared of blowing a gasket. After the turn, the power continued to creep down to 275 watts, where it stabilised. Yet average speed was climbing! I was soon at 27mph for the ride, and I started doing little calculations to see what time I might be able to achieve.
Nope! No idea. I know 26.3mph gives 57 minutes, but I’m struggling to think beyond that. 27mph must be what, 56 minutes, or something? I just ploughed on. I kept waiting for the killer hill, but it never seemed to come. The average just kept creeping up, to 27.3mph! I got into the last couple of miles a little confused by it. I just tried to pedal as fast as possible. But there was a little something missing. That little bit extra you can give when trying to break a previous record. I had no previous record, and I was about to set a pretty good one, so I don’t think I quite had that edge you need. I waited until the last half mile, until I could see the sliproad that marked the end, and then went for it. My Garmin bleeped for 25 miles just short of the finish line. It always does this: starts late and finishes early, so you have to add on a few seconds to estimate the timekeeper’s time. The number it was showing me, 54:48 was quite tantalising. Might I have dipped under 55 minutes officially?!
Wobbled back to the HQ in time to hear my result being phoned in. Yep, 54:56. I was finding it quite hard to keep a lid on my happiness! Now it’s time to see how others have done, to gauge how high up the order I might finish. As I was the first ‘man’ back, it took a bit of time for other times to roll in. And, oh dear, in the first 12 or so, 4 have posted faster times than me. I kept one eye on the results as they came in, and this trend was continued. I haven’t yet seen the full ordering, but I will have come somewhere like 40th out of 120. I don’t particularly care about this! You can only ride your own race, you can’t affect anyone else. One’s placing in a TT is a function of two things: 1) how fast you yourself ride, and 2) who else turns up. The event was well over-subscribed, because the course is so fast and everyone wants a PB. So the standard is higher. I’m quite satisfied with the time, no matter how many people went faster!
Next week I have to have a think about goals, because this year’s target 25 time is shot out of the water. I don’t want to end up not having any targets, and just bumbling along. Thanks for reading 🙂