My first ever TT

It’s almost the anniversary since I wrote this, a year ago – after my first time trial (“TT”) on the 20th May, 2015. At the time, I only posted it on my club’s forum. After completing my second TT recently, I decided to preserve the report for posterity here.

The TT was part of AberCycleFest, which takes place every year just before the last May bank holiday – you don’t usually get tea and cake at the end of every TT!

***

My First TT

I did my first ever TT last night.

I cycled the 11 miles to the start, which was up the picturesque Cwm Rheidol valley, near where they produce hydro-electric power. En route, a group of four cyclists on TT bikes powered past me as if I was standing still, so I was rather nervous of embarrassing myself by the time I reached the car park.

No worries though – there was a mixture of ages, clubs, and road or TT bikes out, even some without tri bars like mine.

20150530 camera download 146The bike I used, minus the mudguard, saddlebag, and second bottle.
Paid my £3 and decided to take the vacant spot 1 on the list. Then spent the next 15 minutes stripping anything not needed off my bike (including my saddle bag), and dithering on whether to put my base layer back on. The sun was going behind clouds and the temperature was dropping rapidly. All the boys said leave the base off, but the sole other woman had one on. Thinking also of Maryka’s words of wisdom about always wearing a base, and making the excuse that I was now a softy Southerner, I found a quiet corner and pulled it on. Instant warmth, lovely.And so to the start for 7pm. I had identified myself as a TT virgin when registering, so the lad briefly explained about the countdown, held my bike and I was off! And wobbling!

To find for some bizarre reason that I couldn’t clip my right foot in. So, for the first half mile, I was dawdling along with one foot out. At last, it clipped in (no idea what was wrong) and I could start putting what little power I had down.

I had absolutely no idea how to pace myself, so I decided to go all out for a while, then pin it back a little until I could actually breathe and my legs weren’t screaming so much. I was expecting Clint (2) to whizz past me in short order, but after I had wheezed my way past a relative’s house (small world around here), it was 3 who flew past. Followed a couple of miles after by number 5 (Welsh Nat RR champion Stevie Williams) and much later, 4. Clint (2) didn’t pass me until a third through, and I stayed about 30 metres* back from him for the next 4-5 miles.

*I could have been able to overtake him again, he seemed to slow when I was feeling stronger, but I pegged my pace back as I couldn’t recall exactly how far back I should be. Then we hit a few lumps on the last stretch of the return and he disappeared from sight.

It was a bit weird to be by myself yet racing. The thought of being overtaken by others and being embarrassingly slow kept me going, and it was easier than I thought to get into a rhythm. I do confess, when cycling by myself, my attention tends to drift and my power output drop, this probably happened a couple of times. I didn’t really have target time, but was hoping to be back in around half an hour. The last few miles, I tried to push it as hard as possible, but despite wheezing/coughing uncontrollably after I passed the finish, I still don’t think I was going all out.

After I had washed the flies stuck in my throat down, the timekeeping lad was relieved when I managed to stop coughing and get my breath back – I think at one stage, he was fearing that he’d have to do either a Heimlich or mouth-to-mouth. He said I had done 30:29, and anything under 30 minutes was ‘considered decent’. So I wasn’t far off. Bearing in mind I didn’t know the course, and the cleat thing (*cough* excuses, excuses *cough*) and it being my first time, I’m OK with that.

Scoffed two flapjacks and a piece of lemon drizzle cake in short order (thanks to the Cwtch Cafe), and pulled my jacket on while watching the others finish. The organisation was flawless, and everyone was really friendly.

Here’s the official finishing times:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ystwyth … 176933350/

Here’s my Strava:
http://www.strava.com/activities/308428255
(the flybys are quite interesting!)

I cycled back towards home with Clint and another lad whose name I can’t recall. Clint said he kept looking back and was impressed to see I was still there for so many miles.

Tonight, I have the choice of attending the AberCycleFest Gala Evening (in the National Library of Wales) to see cycling films, ‘Battle of the Bikes’ (Obree v Boardman), ‘Manpower’ (1982 Milk Race) and finally a Q&A with Dean Downing, or joining an Ystwyth chaingang and trying to not embarrass myself again around a local loop. Decisions, decision…

***
If you’ve never done a TT, most clubs hold weekly events during  summer evenings, and I’d recommend having a go – there’s more information here.  Some clubs even hold occasional ‘Come and Try It’ events open to all comers. There will be another at this year’s AberCycleFest, and I’ll be in Aberystwyth for it.
abercyclefest 2016
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