As the time trial season approaches the end for 2017, I thought I would look back on what has turned out to be a very good year for me. But before I get onto results I thought it would be fun to look at a time trial and break it down.

Each week we rock up to our club or local 10 mile TT’s full of, well not anticipation or excitement, but probably a sense of impending pain! Yet week in week out we just can’t help ourselves, we need to suffer again, it’s like some sadistic ritual we have to heap on ourselves.

We all have different warm up phases, but once done, we all make our way to the start, we listen to the familiar count down, 30 seconds……….10 seconds……….5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Go, Good Luck!

I still have to work out if the timekeeper means good luck, or rather you than me!

Off we go, full of energy, building up speed…….”This is feeling good, much easier than I was expecting, must keep pushing. This is definitely going to be a PB tonight, just need to hold this pace for the rest of the trial.” That early adrenaline rush is always a danger!

As you head towards the half way mark, a little bit of doubt creeps in, “hmmm the legs are starting to complain a bit, not feeling quite as good as I was. Can I hold this for the second half of the TT?? Perhaps I didn’t warm up enough, or maybe I over did it?? Focus, come on Focus, you’re halfway now.”

So now you are into the second half of the TT and the lungs are starting to complain a bit, you are telling your legs to keep pushing and the psychological battle vs the physical battle is now in full swing. The full of energy feeling you had at the start is a distant memory. Sometimes it enters your head to just back off and sod it, I’ll post a slower time, I’m not feeling it today. But that competitive voice in your head will not allow this, oh no! Push, keep pushing you can’t give up not now, you are nearly ¾ done.

Now you enter the last phase, you are pushing hard and trying to build speed to finish strong, or at least hold speed. Now everything is hurting, your lungs don’t want to keep breathing, your legs are starting to tire and the last few miles seem to be taking a long time to complete. With the finish in sight you find a little extra and push, finally it is done. Do you feel euphoric? Do you hell! You’ve spent the last five minutes questioning why am I doing this!? Now you have crossed the line and feel like you are dying, you are still questioning your sanity!

Eventually everything settles back down and you see your time, if it is fast or a PB, you are really pleased and already thinking about what you might do differently next week to shave a few more seconds off. If it wasn’t a great night, you’re a little disappointed, but you know you can go faster, so you start thinking what you might do next week, maybe warm up differently, maybe eat differently beforehand, anything so that you can go faster.

Despite feeling like you have nearly killed yourself, you’ll be back next week, it’s like a drug. When you time trial you are always aiming to improve yourself. It is the ultimate test, the race of truth, you can’t hide from the clock, it doesn’t lie.

So with that in mind, like many others I have pitched myself against the clock each week, trying to extract a bit more out of myself. As I have said previously, this year I worked on getting my speed and power back. The clock doesn’t lie, the speed and power has come back and some! I might be getting older, but I am not getting slower, not yet anyway!

I had many achievements this year, split out across our Tornado P337 course and the Arrow P311 and one VTTA standard attempted and met.

I’ll start with our Tornado RCC Club 10 course on the P337. This is classified as a sporting course as it is a little lumpy and not a fast flat course like the P311.

At the start of the year my PB for the P337 was a 26 minute 51 seconds 10 mile trial, set mid-season 2016, a year when I didn’t do much time trialling. In the first run of 2017 I set a 27.39, so nothing to get too excited by but a good solid start. Four runs in and I set a new PB with a time of 26.17, a very good 34 second improvement. The following two weeks saw me go faster than my 2016 PB but I couldn’t quite get to the new PB.

We then had a slightly damp and windy night, where the times dropped back for everyone, so no luck there. However the next run saw me dip under the 26’s with a new PB of 25.57. A further 20 seconds off. I was now 54 seconds faster than 2016.

This PB only stood for one week as I set another PB of 25.31, yet another 26 seconds faster and now 1 minute 20 seconds faster than 2016. The following two weeks saw me flirting with another PB but just missing out.

Then on 16th August I went again and set another PB of 25.21, a further 10 seconds off, 1 minute and 30 seconds faster than 2016. The last week on time trials didn’t quite produce what I hoped for, but still an ok time of 26.04.

Whilst this was going on, on our course, I was rocking up the following evening to the B’Mouth Arrow 10 on the P311, where prior to this year I hadn’t done this course week in week out since 2013! So I was aiming at my previous PB of 25 minutes 56 seconds set in 2013.

My first run produced a great course PB of 24.45, taking 1 minute 11 seconds off. The next week I went faster again with a 24.33, another 12 seconds off, now 1.23 faster than previous. Not content with that, I set another PB the following week, going 24.19, 14 seconds faster, 1.37 faster than previous. My fourth run was a little slower 24.30, so no PB, but my fifth run saw another PB produced with a 24.08, a further 11 seconds off, now 1.48 faster than previous.

The sub 24 will have to wait for next year. However I am very pleased with my improvements on both courses this year. I have enjoyed some amazing runs and really improved my pacing and speed endurance.

The last achievement is getting my VTTA standard award for 10 miles. I took on the Andover Wheelers 10 mile TT, where I had to set a time of 26.09 or less. I ended up with a 23.14, so nearly 3 minutes inside my age group standard. Next year I will be taking on more VTTA standards over various distances, not just 10’s. I started a bit late on these this year, so have missed some of the events.

It was also nice to finish our Tornado league in 2nd place and as the fastest rider of the year, with my 25.21. It was a very hard fought season with some great rides by others. I look forward to another battle royale next year for another club trophy, but for now the TT’s are pretty much done.