Reluctant to blow his own trumpet, I bent Dan’s arm over a number of weeks until it hurt almost as much as his feet in a 12 hour to tell us about his excellent time trial season in 2018. Many thanks to him for writing this to make me go away, it will hopefully inspire you to time trial and race as a team with ABC Centreville.
2018 Time Trial Season Review
Having exceeded my own expectations in 2017 – my first season time trialling in nearly 25 years – I had hoped to see improvements, admittedly marginal, in 2018. I didn’t really set myself any targets, only to try and improve – note to self – need to set some performance targets for 2019!
The season started towards the end of February, with the usual early season SPOCO time trials. However, the “Beast from the East” put paid to a number of events, mainly due to icy conditions on the roads. Roadworks also had an impact. Of the events that weren’t cancelled, my early season form was a bit hit and miss.Results for these early events were similar to those from 2017, with times and placings more or less in line with what I achieved last year. By the end of March, I was getting pretty frustrated, having followed a smart-trainer based training plan since January, I was hoping for better performances. A week’s holiday in Mallorca at Easter with the family (and my bike) saw me ride nearly 700 km’s and gave me renewed optimism.
Unfortunately, my first TT back after Mallorca was a bit of a disaster! A 10 on the Rainford by-pass – I did a 22:49 for 18th place – it was pretty frustrating as my course PB is nearly 1½ minutes quicker. The event HQ was the other side of the dual-carriageway and I was held up by cars (who were following riders who had finished riding slowly back towards the HQ). A fallen rider at the end of Intake Lane also caused traffic to back up and delay things further (to be honest, every time I’ve done a TT where there has been a fallen rider, my head kind-of falls off and I lose focus – even though I’ve never felt it necessary to stop as, in all occasions to date, the rider was being attended to – although the unwritten rules of cycling etiquette still nag away at me).
The day after the Rainford disaster was a 15 mile TT on what was supposed to be the V728 (the 15 mile variant of the incredibly quick V718 10 mile TT course near Hull). Unfortunately, a TRO forced the event onto an alternative [slower] course, although I was quite pleased with my 33:21 for 13th place, which showed that my form was slowly improving.
A double-header weekend in May saw me improve my 25 mile TT PB from 52:54 to 52:19 (South Pennine RC – A25/11) on the Saturday and then to 52:04 the following day (Sportzmad event on the very quick R25/3H course in Wales, although, by all accounts, it was a slow day!).
A fair amount of my TT’ing is done on Cheshire “J” courses – one of my aims was to improve my overall placing in the season long M&DTTA points series (I was 7th overall last year). The courses aren’t particularly quick and the road surfaces leave a lot to be desired. However, I managed to improve my average 25 mile TT times down from long 57’s in 2017 to short 56’s this year, with my best being a 55:12. It’s difficult to do a super-quick 10 mile TT (or other distance for that matter) on Cheshire unless you’re super-human – there are too many variables, particularly weather conditions and traffic. In my opinion, Cheshire is getting too busy for TT’s to be held on Saturday afternoons – the courses are all single carriageway and are generally laps of a given circuit (usually including part of the A50). Chelford Island is notorious – it’s a small roundabout with 5 roads joining it, I’m lucky if I manage not to get held up at some point during a TT.
In June, I rode the VTTA National 50 mile TT championship on the L5012 course based on the A66 between Keswick and Cockermouth past Bassenthwaite Lake. It was 2 laps of a reasonably quick (and relatively lumpy) course – it is also one of the most picturesque TT courses (though there’s not much opportunity to appreciate the views). It was another event where a fellow TT’er came a cropper (it wasn’t until after the event that I found out he had been knocked-off by a car – it happened outside the HQ and again I wasn’t sure whether the event would be stopped or not as I was held up in both directions by police diverting traffic around the stricken rider and the ambulance that had been despatched for him). I finished with a 1:55:43.
The Joy of the 100
My first 100 of the year was the M&DTTA event which was reduced on the day to approximately 91 miles due to emergency roadworks on part of the course. Apparently, some riders turned up to sign on and they promptly signed-off again once they found out the event was not the full distance…
Not content with almost 4 hours of pain the previous weekend, the following weekend was the RTTC National 100 mile championship – my first national event since I rode the GHS 10 back in 1986 as a schoolboy! The course was 4 laps of the Keswick and Cockermouth course that I’d ridden in the 50 a few weeks earlier. I finished with a time of 3:57:19 and 27th overall. A big thank you to clubmate Nigel Bishop who sorted B&B the night before at his dad’s place and also provided much needed assistance during the event handing me up bottles and telling me I wasn’t drinking enough (he even had time to ride over Whinlatter!).
The Saturday after saw me ride the BDCA 50 mile TT on the A50 dual-carriageway based course at Etwall. Roadworks higher up the A50 necessitated a course change that involved 3 laps and lots of roundabouts. My time of 1:48:27 was only a few seconds outside my PB and good enough for 6th place on the day.
After a complete week off the bike in early August (camping/beer drinking with family and friends) I had the WCTTCA 12 hour TT. The camping holiday wasn’t the ideal preparation! The WCTTCA is a well-organised, well-marshalled event starting and finishing in Wrexham. My mate Jo had volunteered to help me on the day to pass up bottles and food. It’s definitely not a fast course and temporary traffic lights on the 22 mile lap day circuit (which stopped me 3 times) certainly didn’t help. However, apart from 7 hours of severe foot pain, the event was enjoyable (as far as a 12 hour time trial can be considered enjoyable). My distance of 261.82 miles gave me 6th place on the day and was also good enough to become the NLTTA 12 hour champion (I later found out that I had also won the NLTTA long distance BAR championship).
The BBAR (British Best All Rounder) competition is a national event aimed at finding the time-trialists who can claim to be the best over a range of distances. To qualify, men must compete in at least one 50 mile event, one 100 mile event and one 12 hour. The best performances at each distance is taken and the average of the three speeds calculated to give an average overall speed. Back in the 1980’s, the coverage of the domestic time trial scene, and the BBAR in particular, seemed to take up as much space in the comic as the reporting on road racing (both domestic and continental). The BBAR was something I’d read about but never entertained any idea of doing until last year. Indeed, when I told Nigel of my plan, he said that his father in law, Barry Jones, had once told him: “you’re not a proper cyclist until you’ve done a 12 hour…”
In 2017, I managed to finish 39th overall in the national BAR competition with an average speed of 25.1mph. This year I was 30th overall with 24.9mph (although, to be fair, a number of events were cancelled due to roadworks which meant that some riders may not have been able to achieve all the qualifying distances or ride some of the faster courses).
On reflection, I definitely had a better season than 2017, although it wasn’t until the second half of the season that I realised I had improved. Some tweaks to my TT position helped, as did an improvement in power output. In the M&DTTA season long points series, I finished 4th overall and 1st veteran in the 40 to 49 year old category. I was also 3rd overall in the M&DTTA BAR. My best open TT result was 3rd overall (which was in my last TT of the season, the Stretford Wheelers 25 on Cheshire towards the end of September).
Although I’ve not yet set any performance targets for 2019, things that I do intend doing are:
- Only racing once at weekends – it takes a toll both from a recovery perspective but also from a lifestyle/time perspective, especially when you consider the additional travelling. There was one weekend when I did 3 races (2 x 10’s on the Saturday and a 30 on the Sunday).
- Sort my feet out – I suffer with severe pain in the soles of my feet during longer distance events, especially when it is warmer (typically events over 3 hours in duration – during the 12 hour, my feet were in agony for around 7 hours).
- Not get too hung-up on times and placings in events where traffic causes delays – it’s inevitable when time trialling on the open road.
- Volunteer to marshall at a couple of events – the sport is run by volunteers and it can be a challenge for event organisers to recruit enough willing volunteers to help on the day of an event.
- Try and communicate with my clubmates a bit more! I reckon ABC Centreville could win team prizes at some of the open time trials…
Key 2018 season results
25 mile TT – 52:19
12 hour TT – 261.82 miles
Best Open TT Result:
3rd – Stretford Wheelers 25 mile TT (J2/9 – 22.09.18)
Awards/Season Long Competitions:
National BBAR – 30th
NLTTA 12 Hour – 1st
NLTTA Long Distance BAR – 1st
M&DTTA BAR – 3rd
M&DTTA Points Competition – 4th (1st Vet 40-49)
Many thanks Dan, all reports welcome! Thanks to Raymond Bracewell for his top photos too.
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