Time Trials are essentially a battle with the self; an existential quagmire of doubt and anxiety, shot through with physical pain and suffering. With regard to the former (the existential quagmire), every rider is racing against a ghost of past performances, and of personal bests, trying to capture that elusive ‘float day’* when the planets aligned and the headwind abated.
last year i managed to put down a 22:38 on the graveyard, or the U7b, as it is officially known. incidentally, the courses have funny codes because back in the days of yore such racing was illegal, and necessitated several helpings of skulduggery and black alpaca outfits. this year, my sole aim was to get under 22 minutes. at yeovil today i was optimistic of a PB, i have been riding more quickly and generally thrashing the pants off people who used to strike fear into the core of my being. If i could get near to 22 minutes, i would be thrilled.
somehow, and i’m not sure how, i managed a 21:18. i knew it was fast, because i was cycling quickly and not suffering from the the deathly slow end that creeps upon the tiring rider after the turn. i was slowing, but it was inevitable, rather than catastrophic, and at no point did my speed drop below 25mph. in fact, the average speed for the ten was over 28mph. two things strike me as pertinent, it still hurts just as much, but the relative speed is quicker, and i was within a minute of the winner, which is the first time this has happened to me in a ten. I’ve read back my entry on the classic league last week, and i guess i was right, I was on course for a sub-22 ten, but i didn’t somehow think it would happen.
i’ve heard tell of mythical fast courses in wales, and even one near cirencester. i shall line up on the u47 at the beginning of May and if the planets realign themselves, i suspect i may even be within a shout of breaking the 20 minute mark. i hasten to add, that there is a law of unforeseen consequences here. by brutally assassinating my previous best, by over a minute, and reaching my season’s goal in April, i have also caused a rapid recalibration of expectations. Suddenly i am aiming for a long 20, when as little as 13 months ago i was hopeful of breaking evens. in fact, my PB last april was 24.35.
tomorrow is the 6th hardriders event of the season, i suspect i may pay a price for today’s endeavours. but it shall be worth it.
*TT parlance for a day when nary a breath of wind shakes the grass, and conditions are optimal for super-fast times