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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trial by Bike - Wayne's TT

Having attempted my first crack at a time trial in 2009, I could not resist giving it another go so entered the annual Summit TT Championship. Run by the club's friends at Maidenhead CC, it is held on an early September evening on a circuit near Sherlock Row writes Wayne Harris. After riding a number of Sportive’s, Enduro’s and MTB races, I have to admit that this TT must be one of the most intense things I have tried on a bike yet! To begin with, this course is a 5 mile lap that has to completed twice, quite simply in the quickest time possible. Whereas in a race, your fellow competitors are all over and around you, in a TT they start ahead and behind you in one minute intervals. This means you have the added prize of seeing the rider in front, dangling like a carrot, tempting you to chase him down. On the other hand, you can’t help wonder, if and when you’ll hear the tell-tale sound of the disc wheel of that rider behind you, as he catches you up, and almost certainly (in my case) overtakes and starts to gap you! Despite the event (from a Summit point-of-view) being mainly for fun, and a personal test of what you could achieve, it still felt quite nerve racking, and when rolling to the start line I was definitely feeling it! Having done a warm-up lap beforehand, I pretty much knew what to expect, when to conserve energy, and when the opportunity would come to really `put the hammer down’. There’s a great temptation to go off as fast as you can, however, ultimately you’ll never keep that initial speed consistent, and if anything will burn out later. Therefore, I found it best to stick to a pace that I knew I could keep going for both laps. Keeping within your maximum heart rate is a good way to help stay on course if you want to finish in a reasonable time. So the moment arrives, you are held up by a race marshal, giving you chance to clip into your pedals, and the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and its out of the saddle to propel yourself forward! For the first few hundred yards I forgot everything I had told myself – how long had I been going? Had the next rider left yet? Was I going to fast? I soon calmed down, went to the `drops’ and started settling into a workable rhythm. The first section is quite flat, and then after about a quarter of the way round you take the first of 2 ramps over the M4, thus giving you chance to build up speed to fire down and up the slight climb to the 3rd junction. From then on its a very long straight, allowing for speeds of 30mph or more to be achieved, before you arrive at the next roundabout, hard left and back over the M4 and past the start line – and then all over again! At the end of the 2 laps I was spent, and could not have managed a faster pedal stroke on the entire circuit. The tiredness I felt was washed away by a wave of euphoria of having completed in a reasonable time (28m 03s) and being overtaken only twice. Whilst a new bike, aero bars and a pointy helmet are not on my immediate shopping list, I will certainly be back again for more of the same next year. And if you fancy physically challenging yourself, then you too should try `the race of truth’!

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