As I have found out, doing your first Time Trial can be a daunting prospect. I have been cycling seriously for around 2 years now, and it’s only now that I feel that I want to compete. This is mainly due to the fact that I now feel like I am getting close to the right fitness level, but also because I want to set new goals for myself.
My first Time Trial was on 19th March this year. A 15 mile course (H14/10) with Maidenhead CC. The club was very welcoming and the members were super friendly, especially Stuart Auckland who was my contact when signing up. That said, as I pulled into the club house, I immediately felt very inadequate on my road bike with tri bars, next to these amazing aero machines. Not that anyone was rude, but they did emit that feeling of SPEED, whereas I emitted nerves and newbie vibes. This is probably what shocked me most that weekend, how seriously some of the guys there took it. I say this with no harm intended as I soon realised after the TT, you have to be that serious about it if you want to go as fast as some of those guys did.
Anyway, a few tables were set out in the club house for the riders to get ready; I put my bag down, gathered my race number and wrestled into my skinsuit. It was at this point, whilst looking around the room that I decided that I needed to stop focusing on what others were doing and just relax into my plan.
As I cycled to the club house, I treated that as half of my warm up. I was due to start at 2.37pm. So I sat at the table, trying to relax, sipping on an energy drink. It was pretty cold outside so I wanted to head out as late as possible, do another 10 minute warm up and then start. And so I made sure my number was pinned on correctly and headed off to the start line with a few cadence drills to warm up.
As I reached the start line, it was on the other side of the road; I went past it and after a couple of metres crossed over. NOW, this is an illegal move and I could have been disqualified according to the man starting ahead of me. But fortunately, with me being a “virgin TT’ist” they let me off.
And so, I’m at the start line, one of the club members is holding me up, which is also a new experience for me. I hear the count down 30… 10… 5, 4,3,2,1 and off I go. Just as I start, another rider came whizzing past. I felt pretty pumped at this point and set out to catch her as I knew she was nearing the end of her TT. After a minute or so, I’m pretty close to her and I look down. I was hitting 47kmh! This set alarm bells ringing. If held that up I wouldn’t be far off the hour record!! So I thought to myself STAY CALM! From research I had made before the race I knew that adrenaline will be high in the first few miles so this is where you need to reign it in a bit, as it feels easy at this point but won’t very shortly! So immediately I reduced my effort without slowing down too much as I had good momentum and from thereon focused purely how I felt. I didn’t want to use a HRM for my first TT. I’m not sure why. I just wanted to try and just judge it. That said, I feel I paced it fairly well for my first TT. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes where I was in real pain. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough. Eventually I saw the checkered flag at the side of the road and went to sprint. I had nothing left, crossed the line, stopped my GPS computer and wiped the snot and spit from my face.
Overall it was a huge learning curve, the steepest part of that curve being; focus on your own race! (And don’t make a U-Turn to the start line until you are out of sight!) I completed the course with a strava time of 38.35, averaging 38.6 km/h. Way faster than the 40 min target I was hoping for. So what I would say is, even if you are not competitive, going along to local club TT is a great thing to do. It’s a target to train for, from my experience the clubs are welcoming, you meet new cyclists and if you do them periodically you can judge your form.
I hope if you are reading this and you have you first TT coming up, it helps a bit. Just relax and focus on your own race.