I sat in the car. The radio played Road to Nowhere. That’s exactly where I was going. Nowhere. Fast. I watched the minutes evaporate. The 60 min I had left as a pre-race buffer to sort myself out and warm-up vanished, painfully slow, and I still had 20 miles to drive to the first race of the Women’s Midlands Time Trial series in Bidford. Was it actually worth bothering?
I texted the organiser. A one word answer: YES. As we finally got moving I made the Co-Wheels Leaf go as fast as was possible and arrived 15 min before my allotted start time. I quickly assembled my bike, decided on short legs and long sleeves, squeezed the Velotoze on (and put a hole in them in the process), my Prowell helmet on the head, shades on and dashed into HQ to sign-on. 6 min to my allotted start time.
At sign-on, I got someone to pin my number on and asked what the quickest way to the start was. The guy asked if I knew the course and proceeded to explain that the last 4 miles were on an uphill drag on the dual carriage way. So it was advisable to leave something in the tank. Right. Roger that.
Off I went. My official start time ticked by and I still had 3 miles up the hill to the start. That will be my warm-up then. When I got there, I was 8 min late. I reported to the referee and was told he would shout when a slot became available. Some ride was better than no ride. Number 24 didn’t turn up. There was my slot, 13 min late. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
I focused on riding near the red line but not going overboard, purely on feel. My idea of leaving something in the tank. Trying to keep the bike in a straight line was hard work due to some wind gusts. The landmarks the guy had told me about flew past. The village, the roundabout, a long uphill drag into the next village. I passed my minute woman and focused on trying to locate the next. Was this already part of the 4 miles to the finish? I didn’t know. My watch only showed time and HR and I resisted looking at it. I felt good, so I pushed on.
The roundabout approached and with it the dual carriage way. Thanks to a car that had pulled far left, I had to stop and could squeeze past to filter in with the traffic. Tick tock. On I pushed. Uphill. Headwind. Grind or spin, it was borderline. I upped my cadence to keep the gear. Was this never ending. I spotted the next woman up the road. Bait. Prey. Come on! I checked my watch. 23 min. If it went really well, the finish was just up the road, if it went really bad I had another 3 min. But either way, it was time to cross the red line.
The finish came too quickly. I never caught her. But I was pleased with the watch showing a sub-25. Pleasing indeed. Except the results will never show my sub-25 as the rulebook says that if you miss your start you incur a time penalty to your actual start time. I was fine with it, but it caused considerable confusion among the other racers and I was bombarded with question whether I had punctured, crashed. No. All good. Just what you get when you show up late to the party.
During the ride, I felt extremely comfortable which is partially due to my adjusted TT fit. Dan at Midland Bike Fit did an awesome job. I am not sure you are ever meant to say that about a TT. They’re generally uncomfortable. Physically and mentally.
All in all, I am happy. The series competition is always fierce as there are quite a few very fast female riders about and I am lucky enough to be able to compete with them. It was a good time on a tough course, just seconds off of my PB on a different course. It will be interesting to go back to my PB course for race 2 of the series. I am glad I raced after all, that should have got all the kinks out of the way. Hopefully.