Sunday, 17 April 2011

Egg's (and Mike's) First Time Trial

I've wanted to do a proper time trial for ages, so when I saw that the New Forest Cycling Club were running a series of 10 mile time trials I knew I had to go along and try it out.

Me and Mike full of excitement at the start
Fortunately I had Mike for company, who had never done a proper one either so I knew I wouldn't be the only newbie out on the course. We arrived at "Race HQ", which was actually a woman sat in the boot of her car in Ringwood Market Place car park. In fact we probably wouldn't have found her had it not been for the crowd of brightly coloured cyclists mingling in the vicinity, some of whom were so aerodynamic it's a wonder they can stop to talk at all. There were a lot of seriously nice sets of wheels around; I think it’s fair to say that my bike probably weighed more than several of these carbon beasts put together.

A few of the very professional-looking time-triallers were in full on one-piece lycra suits with those special sperm-shaped helmets and tight covers around their shoes, because imagine how bad it would be to put all that effort in whilst wearing a silly looking hat and then find out your shoes have slowed you down, I would be aghast!

We warmed up a bit by going for a spin around the first part of the route, but we were back at the start to see the first cyclists go off. As everyone was set off at one minute intervals, it actually turned out to be quite a long time to wait (we were number 28 and 29). So here’s the question: do you a) do a very, very long warm-up and use up some of your energy reserve or b) save energy but stand around getting cold? After standing around debating this, Mike decided that next time the answer would be to register, then get a Burger King and sit in the warm car until you have five minutes to go. This time however, we stood about getting cold, which could have put me at an aerodynamic advantage as I’m sure my nipples were ready to cut through the air faster than most of the men’s.

I struggled to trust a man I'd never met to hold me up on the bike for about 40 seconds whilst both feet were clipped to the pedals and had visions of being pushed off and immediately falling into the kerb in front of all the seasoned pros.. luckily the whole push-off thing worked successfully and before I knew it I was pedalling my little heart out.

My bike computer is broken so I had no idea what speed I was doing but my tactic was just to go as hard as possible. I was feeling pretty strong for the first ten minutes or so and then I pulled back a little bit to ensure I didn't burn out before the end. The out and back loop was great as you see all the other cyclists coming back in the other direction and you get to see that everyone else is in pain too!

I hit the Sopley turn around quicker than expected, only Mike and one other bloke had whizzed past me and I was feeling good, I was just over halfway. I made the most out of the wonderfully smooth tarmac and flew around the little circular one-way system, cornering like a fiend and building the momentum in readiness for a super fast second half. Then as soon as I exited the last corner the headwind smacked me in the chest. I tried to maintain the speed but I just couldn't do it. 

In the second half I was really running out of steam. Each time another pair of chiselled calves overtook me I got a little burst of enthusiasm but I couldn't hang on the back of anybody. I was pushing hard but my body just wouldn't go full throttle. 

I came into the finish where Mike was waiting. I don't think I've ever been more happy to drop the gears and spin my legs, the half a mile back to the car park was a joy! 

There was a buzz in the air when we got back; the woman with the board was receiving real-time updates as people were coming through the finish line and was writing them up as everybody crowded around to see what times they had done. I came in at 32:05 which works out at just under a 19mph average, I had wanted to get to 20mph but for my first one, I was pleased. More importantly, now I have a time to try and beat!

I very much enjoyed Mike's analogy of it all, he said he "went through a whole range of emotions" which involved firstly feeling really good, then feeling a bit sick, then totally knackered, then a sudden burst of energy at the end before finishing and feeling like you could have pushed harder. An excellent summary of the whole experience I think!


  1. Nice to make it into your blog, Egg! 20mph next time then?