So, you must have read My First Ever TT, yes?
This was my second. As previously mentioned, almost a year later.
Why the time passing? Well, my first-claim club is in Mid Wales, but my second-claim club, KW, is in the suburbs of London, where I usually live. KW TT courses are on A roads which don’t appeal to me as, in my eyes, they tend to be rather busy. Others can ignore the traffic, but I’m not so good at that*.
One positive about TTs in the Surrey environs is they are generally a lot flatter. Like, flat-as-a-particularly-flat-pancake flat. But, the traffic thing, and trying to get there for a time just beyond rush hour, generally puts me off.
Circumstances found me in Mid Wales again. So, with trepidation, I turned up for the Devil’s Bridge Hilly TT earlier this month.
My mother had unexpectedly passed away the previous week. I was in the middle of organising the funeral, but, after several days of many exercises in futility, I needed to have actual, proper exercise on the bike. If you have gone through a time such as that, you’ll know what I mean – a touch of normality, fresh air and a distraction, all bundled into one. It was sorely needed.
The course was a touch…climb-y – look at that profile. 1000 feet in 22 miles. Not the easiest.
Weather report – sunshine, 12-ish degrees – warm enough for 3/4s for me, and shorts for others. Quite a strong wind, though I never worked out which direction it was coming from!
I did it on my winter bike which I had brought from London – the Kinesis Racelight T2 with 105, F7s and Conti 4000s IIs.
Not aero, or light, although it can be quick. It’s a workhorse. And I can’t blame it for being slow – it likes being chucked around. It was me:
Decent nutrition that week had been non-existent, bike maintenance zero too – tyres were soft and no one had a track pump at the meeting point. I’d had no time to find a pump, and later, I would find that they were around 50/60 psi front/rear respectively. (Far, far too low. But, I’d had other, funeral-related things to worry about.) My lovely PDW mudguards were alternately admired and ridiculed – I just didn’t have time to take them off beforehand.
All not ideal.
I turned up. I signed up. I was number 1.
I set off. And promptly wheelied a little. Head down due to embarrassment.
200 yards later, I remembered I hadn’t started my Garmin. Oops.
A mile later, my ‘minute woman’ passed me. And the next wasn’t so far back. In the following miles, before halfway, most of the field overtook. Some encouraged me, some were fighting their own battles. Some did both, and I truly appreciate those who did, even when I couldn’t respond.
The first half was rolling, but uphill overall. A fair bit of work for someone more used to flat roads. I would run through my (sticking) gears, from 34-28 to 50-11, in a matter of a few hundred yards. And again. And again. And a few more times. But, nearer to the lower ranges than the upper – it was mostly climbing.
There was nothing in my legs. My head was in the wrong place. The only drive I felt was after someone passed me. I wanted to do well in memory of my Mum, but thinking that was too much for me – emotion destroyed my concentration.
I nearly gave up at halfway, as all-but-two riders had passed me and I had a random bout of grief-related tears. With encouragement from marshal Tim, I continued. After the last of the remaining competitors overtook me, that spurred me enough to make some time back on the long descent into Capel Bangor. (Without drafting him, of course!)
I know I didn’t push myself enough – there wasn’t enough physical pain at the end, and I wasn’t gasping for air enough. Compared to some, I had hardly tried. It was difficult to justify, or even describe, the mental versus physical battle. I felt I had fought, yet my body didn’t show it. And I didn’t know if I had won or lost.
1.22.06 was the official time for 22 hilly miles – solidly last place.
In better news, it worked miraculously to sort out my escalating hip pain. And, as cycling often does, it cleared my head enough for a semi-decent night of sleep.
At that time, that was the best I could hope for.
Not the best examples of ‘racing’ a TT, but this post was never really about that, sorry.