(Time) Trial and Tribulations

I have never had jet lag before – so waking up at 3.30am and getting up at 4am on Tuesday morning was alien to me. This meant another rest day then originally planned until normality resumed. So training didn’t start until last Wednesday with an easy turbo. It was supposed to be a swim session but leaving work late meant a turbo was more practical.

But by Thursday I was back on it. Thursday I rode to work and back with a run off the bike, a swim set Friday evening, a long run Saturday morning and a short turbo Saturday afternoon.

By Sunday I was super keen to finally ride my new Time Trial bike on the ‘road’.

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I had been looking forward to this ride for weeks. I had done so many hours on the TT bike on the turbo through winter, getting used to the ride position, Yoga to strengthen my back and core all to make the transition to the TT position easier.

I opted to drive to Richmond Park and do three or four laps of the park, where there were less cars , less hills and a smoother road surface.

I got on the bike to do a 10 minute warm up before the first full lap. It was horrible.

I was wobbling all over the place and it felt like I was riding on ice. The slightest bump in the road had me grabbing for the handles rather than being on the bars.

Within minutes I was regretting buying a TT bike. After 10 minutes I had almost written the advert in my head for putting it on ebay when I got home.

I worked out that if I drove home to get my road bike and then went for a 2 hour ride, how late it would be, so I might as well just ride this bike for 2 hours. And that was the ONLY reason I carried on with the ride.

So I did a lap. I was still wobbling like hell, everyone (man, women, child, road bike, mountain bike, penny farthing!) everything was going past me. I just took it steady and tried to build up confidence on the bike and an understanding of how the bike was feeling.

That first lap took me 25 minutes and 44 seconds. My PB for a lap of the park is 22 minutes something. I did another 10 minute small ride to take on some drink and take a gel. It was getting better so I went for a second lap. By now I had been on the bike about 40 minutes.

This second lap was steadier as in less wobbling, I felt better and I was going faster. I was in a harder gear and pushing more, rather than being in an easier gear and spinning more. The harder gear meant I was steadier on the bike and hence the bike was steadier under me. The faster I went the more stable the bike felt.

I got held up with traffic on the fast downhill so I was pleased to see my time for lap two was 24 minutes and 52 seconds. I did another easy 10 minutes before my last lap. During the easy 10 minutes the wobbling returned and the uncomfortable feeling raised its head again (although nowhere near as bad).

It was starting to click. I realised the following:

  • The bike is built for speed, the harder you peddle, (pushing a harder gear and not spinning) the more stable you are on the bike and the more stable the bike is.
  • The faster you go on the bike the more stable it is and the more you absorb bumps
  • The position on the bike means you naturally look down at the front wheel and the road immediately ahead of you and not up the road where you are heading. Big mistake.

The last lap was completely different taking all of this onboard. Taking it easy is almost a mistake and the worst thing to do. You need to go hard. The faster you go, the more stable the bike, the more smooth the peddle stroke and the smoother you are on the bike.

Lap 3 was 23 minutes and 32 seconds. I didn’t have neck ache or arse ache or sore shoulders or aching elbows. I felt good.

I did another easy 10 minutes warm down and realised it had actually been raining. That’s how hard I had been concentrating while on the ride.

I am now super keen for next week’s ride, where I plan to ride the TT bike to RP, do some laps and ride back. I will go early so initially there is less traffic on the ride to the park, see how I am progressing by time of the laps and then an easy ride back. If the bike lets me ride back easy!

After next Sunday’s ride I will decide if I ride the Cowman on the TT or the road bike.

Finally, a big shout out to my coach Mark Kleanthous for coming third in his age group at IM 70.3 Staffordshire. 33 consecutive years participating in IM events and taking to the podium is remarkable. A true inspiration.

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Well done Mark.

Thanks for reading.

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