Today was a first for me – riding the race of truth, the solitary endeavour, the lonely ride – except unusually with two clubmates at the Chippenham and District 3up. it was really peculiar, and a total blast. the course was that used for the swindon hardrider, a circuit visited back in april. this time i was riding with andy and dan, two big chaps with a lot of power, but a few minor issues when it comes to putting out that kind of power when the road suddenly, and violently, crests upwards.
there were a few composite teams in evidence, which was great, it’s people from different clubs banding together to get a ride. one of them was particularly fast, a sort of hardriders dreamteam of alec baskaya, rob pears and derek smetham. there were also what seemed to be more triathletes than you could shake a sleeveless jersey at. two of the ‘tri’ teams were a bit late getting back. this was the cause for much mirth, along the lines of… ‘maybe they’re still swimming in the kennet and avon canal’, or ‘maybe they got confused in avebury and thought it was a transfer’. one thing was for sure, they had expensive bicycles, shoes and gear, and even more expensive cars. but then again, they can afford to do three sports, so it’s to be expected.
we did a quick warmup, practised our changes, then lined up for the start. it was very exciting, with three minute intervals between teams. i don’t have a photo, but we did look resplendent in our matching red and gold skinsuits, and we even had matching red prendras overshoes, more by luck than judgement, but it looked very lovely and if there was a prize for the most co-oordinated, 1980s throwback, garish but matching team kit, then we would have won by a mile.
there were two big hills on the circuit, these did for the others. there was no point in me putting the hammer down, i simply would have had to wait at the top. in a TTT, it’s all about working together and keeping it going, helping each other, staying tight and taking turns on the front. i paced the climbs, trying to keep the three of us together, even though it was quite tricky, insofar as it was the first time i’ve ridden a hill below threshold in a race effort for some time – what with being in the midst of a serious hillclimbing block of training. once we got to the far side of the course a fierce headwind really whipped up, it was very tough, and amplified by a section of road which had been scored in preparation for resurfacing. it all got a bit paris-roubaix and destroyed both rhythm and speed. at one point though we were in an echelon formation, riding diagonally and to the side. this is quite possibly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me on a bicycle. i felt like a continental pro, albeit a very very slow continental pro. maybe a really old one. with one leg.
the second climb – near the finish – was really tough, and Dan, to my considerable admiration, turned himself absolutely inside out to get up it. I was really impressed. we blasted across the line to clock 58. 10, or thereabouts. we were behind two of the composite teams, but came 2nd overall for clubs, which is where the prize money and kudos were contained. at least in my myopic field of vision. above all else, the event was a real blast, i’ve not enjoyed a time trial as much in ages. the riding together was great, it felt good to be part of the club and i enjoyed the camaraderie. i shall ignore the fact that i rode it in 55.10 on April 17th and rejoice in the club colours. andy’s data is quite interesting, looking at the heart rate graph at the bottom you can clearly see the effect of riding on the front, it’s a spiky profile.
incidentally it was the last competitive outing for the stealth, which is now heading off to pastures new, to be replaced my a younger, more lithesome and erotic model, replete with slippery curves and secret recesses. more on this smutty little creature later.