Organising a Time Trial (take 2)

This time last year I broke my duck as a time trial organiser. It was pretty eventful.

This year i moved the event to quieter roads in the knowledge that the course was slower and there would be a significantly reduced field. However, I also knew that the event would run and was optimistic that it would be much safer for the riders, insofar as some of the more extreme variables of traffic and weather were taken out of the equation. If i had opted to stay on the same course for this year then i would have been inundated with a deluge (an apt metaphor, given the inclement weather spiralling across the country in endless occlusions) of phone calls inquiring as to whether the event was to run or not. it’s an impossible situation. Having opted to use the U21/50 (gotta love those course codes) i didn’t face this dilemma. Unless the race required an ark then it was going to run. Even so, an ark can be adapted with aerobars and you could probably slam the front end to reduce drag.

Organising an event is a bit of an effort. It starts long before with lots of different administrative feats and multiple pages on spreadsheets. It needs a corps of caterers armed with various cakes and sundry items. In the absence of a corps, i settled for Belle who produce some spectacular breakfast muffins, a banana loaf and flapjacks. We also put on toast and freshly ground filter coffee. This all went down well. There was nothing left afterwards.

The other severe headache involved in running a time trial is the recruitment of a crack team of marshalls. Some times this isn’t too tricky, but it’s rendered very difficult indeed if your event starts at 6am on a Sunday morning. I picked up two bleary-eyed club members at 5am, just so i could leave them by the A38 for three hours, all for a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee. The Bristol South CC road race and audax factions came charging to the rescue and I am very grateful. They did a fantastic job standing by the side of the road and ensuring riders were not worrying about where they were going and felt mollified by the calming presence of the luminous squadron.

I have been worried about the race for weeks. It hasn’t been the best timing, what with moving house and other various things, but the race has also been in the back of my mind all this time. It is a genuinely huge relief to have completed the event. Fifties are that much more complex and awkward than 10s, the courses tend to be trickier to negotiate, the riders are on the road for much longer, they need more marshalls and they start at stupid o’ clock. This could be why there are less and less of the longer distance events being run.

The timekeepers are the vital cog of the entire enterprise. Bridget and Ian Boon are longstanding officials in the West district and were fantastic as ever. Bridget is a hugely accomplished long distance time triallist and we were talking today about some of her achievements. In 1993 she won the North Road 24 hour with 457 miles. This was a mixed event – she beat all the men and all the women.

Bridget at the 1994 Mersey 24hr

Along with Ian she set a number of national tandem records, including the National 24hr in 1986 with 463 miles and the National 12hr with 271 miles in 1986 – which still stands. I can’t imagine what it takes to spend 24 hours on a bike, let alone on a tandem. It’s an incredible feat. I felt privileged to be sat with Bridget doing the rider check at the finish.

I’m now quite tired. Nevertheless, i feel like i can get back on the bike and start racing again. Luckily, i have the bike back so i can actually get back on the bike and start racing again. Argos have retrofitted my bling Boardman with a hard-ass stainless steel derailleur tab. Go Argos. There is nothing they cannot do.

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