Guessing that many of you won’t enjoy reading blog post after blog post about individual TT events – particularly if you can’t make head or tail of those mysteriously coded courses or power lingo – I have just added a new ‘results‘ page to my blog. Feel free to have a look there from time to time if you are interested in the numbers and details, but I will try to use my blog posts to give more of an insight into my journey towards achieving those results (both good and bad ones), my inspirations and lessons learned*.
Last year during my first season of TTing and having just finished my first 100 mile TT, I came off the bike buzzing with excitement about my time of 4hrs 1min and 11 sec. A former club mate who rode the same event congratulated me with my time but also pointed out how technically it really hadn’t been such a good ride and how, with better pacing, I could have done far better still. Although I knew he was right, I was so excited about achieving that time on my first attempt at a 100 mile TT that I only half-listened to him.
Since then I have heard and read others referring to the ‘art’ of time trialling. It all seems so simple. Just keep on pushing on the pedals. But there is so much more to it. And then I am not even talking about bike handling, position on the bike, aerodynamics or nutrition, but simply about pacing my ride, adjusting my power to the course profile and wind direction/conditions and carefully managing that fine line of just not going into the red.
But sometimes it takes doing something to really understand the meaning. I still have a lot to improve in terms of executing good pacing, but I think I slowly start to at least understand the difference between a great time and a great ride. Obviously it is best if one occurs as a result of the other, but I can now see how a slower time on a harder course or a tougher day with good pacing can sometimes be more satisfying than a super fast time on the perfect day on a super fast course with pacing that was all over the place.
Last weekend I rode an event in tough conditions on the course where in a few weeks time the National 50mile TT will be held. It was my third race this year and my third win.
During my first 2 races I was way too obsessed with trying out new aero helmets etc and had only managed to win by seconds. This time I had swapped back to my good old Bambino. It may not be the most aero, but at least it doesn’t make me so focussed on keeping the bloody tail of the TT helmet in the right place that I completely forget to regularly check my power. Unfortunately I am still way too inexperienced to actually know what a certain power output feels like. My pacing still wasn’t perfect (and particularly could have been improved by eating more than just 2 cubes of clif shot blocks and 100ml of energy mix) but it was much better than in my last 50 mile TT and I managed to set a power PB for the distance/duration in the process. Last time (arguably on a faster course) I managed to clock 1hr51min37sec vs 2hrs and 7sec this time, but somehow this ride made me happier. It may not be a great time and certainly nothing that would count favourably towards BBAR rankings, but I do feel proud to finally have done a well-paced ride.
I know there will be several faster girls than me who will easily smash that time when the Nat50 is held on the course in a few weeks time, but that is irrelevant. Nothing can take away my happiness of slowly starting to understand more about the ‘art’ of time trialling and the difference between a great time and a great ride.
* I may make an exception from time to time if I am exceptionally pleased or disappointed with a particular race…