Last weekend I did something I should do more often: focus on my skills, or rather lack thereof. Over the last few years people like Huw Williams and other coaches have put on some great training sessions for women wanting to get into crit and road racing, or indeed improve their skills. For time trialling however I had never come across a similar initiative, until last week.
The session was organised by Revolution Cycling, a coaching company focused on female cyclists, set up by Kerry Bircher and Holly Seear. With the help of time trialling legend Ruth Eyles, former National 50m TT, 100m TT and BBAR winner, Kerry and Holly put on a brilliant session for us at Elmbridge Cycle Track near Weybridge. The session was aimed at novice and intermediate female time triallists, and I certainly still count myself among the latter. When I emailed Kerry about a place and my concerns of, given the popularity of the event, perhaps taking up a place that could have gone to someone newer to the sport, she offered that perhaps I could help out on the day as an ‘expert’ rider. No expectations then!
There were probably about 30-40 of us and it was good to see both familiar and new faces among the group. Some girls had even come over all the way from Essex! The afternoon started with Ruth taking us through a whirlwind classroom session covering everything, from the basics of how to enter time trial events to good local courses and how to pace a time trial. With all the knowledge Ruth has, the variety of experience among the group, and the limited time available, there was never going to be enough time to cover it all, but Ruth had kindly prepared a booklet for us to take home.
After the theory session we headed over to the circuit to work on our skills. Riding in the aerobars with such a strong wind was always going to be a challenge, but, as it was a lovely sunny afternoon, there were also a few more members of the public with young children and dogs to watch out for than we had anticipated. Elmbridge Cycle Circuit in Brooklands Community Park with all its twists and turns is probably the last place I would associate with time trialling, but oddly it is exactly all those twists and turns that made it quite a good place for practising skills. Not focussing on speed or power for a change, but improving my weakness and confidence in cornering.
After a warm up we split into two groups. One group practising TT and TTT starts and the other focusing on balance and coordination through roundabouts. It was really good fun to work in teams for the TT and TTT starts. It was a good bonding thing and gave some real confidence too. It was only last year around this time that I was still shaking with nerves at the start line, unsure if I would be able to clip in on time, if the pusher off would accidentally lean me too far to the left or right, whether that horrible nerve-related cramp would suddenly jump into my toes, whether I would fall over if the ‘pusher off’ let go of my bike on the ‘0’ count … It all feels so much easier now. As for the ‘rocking’ start however…
Finally we got into teams of 4 riders and all took part in a mock team time trial race, which was a great way to end a really good afternoon.
Many thanks to Kerry, Holly and Ruth for your expert guidance during the day. It was great fun and certainly gave me a lot more confidence. I think you are onto a winner here and definitely see scope for more of these sessions, possibly even for different ability/experience groups or focusing on particular practical elements.
I hope to see many of the girls who attended the session last weekend out on the local time trials soon and for those in the South East, don’t forget to sign up for SEWTTS, a very welcoming series of time trials for women, organised by yet another legend and great ambassador for women’s time trialling Rebecca Slack.