I’ve recently taken up time-trialling. Clearly a sensible thing for a nervous newbie cyclist to be doing, see here for my thoughts after my first lesson 18ish months ago! I’ve come a long way since my first few lessons, and am reasonably confident and controlled on the bike, and I’ve been crashing less. I’ve even ridden on some roads, although I still really hate going on the road unless there are no cars. I enjoy going out on the red ways, but the downside is you can’t really push very much because there are junctions every few metres or you have to dodge oblivious pedestrians with small children or dogs! After seeing Phil do his first time trial a little while ago, I thought it looked like fun, particularly as some of them at least are on closed roads. So I had a go for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Given I’m riding a completely inappropriate trekking bike with flat peddles and am not the fittest/thinnest of people I set a respectable enough time.
The circuit has a slight up and a down, although you wouldn’t notice it walking around, you certainly notice the up when you are riding. The circuit is also quite open and subject to quite strong winds that have more and less favourable orientations. The best is obviously tail-wind up the hilly part, and the worst is with a head-wind.
We’ve been trying few strategies to make me a bit faster that have been a bit thwarted by wind conditions until this week. I have more aero wheels (better) some changes in position (worse), and a better saddle (definitely better). I’ve also been trying to speed up my pedalling and using a lower (?) gear but I think that has made things more difficult because I’ve ended up having to pedal too fast and had trouble keeping my feet on the pedals. I’ve been trying to pedal faster up the hill, which together with gear troubles and saddle troubles have slowed me down, so I actually put in much slower times in the 2nd and 3rd attempts. The wind was also unfavourable on those days.
This week I was pleased that the wind direction was going to be more favourable. With a better saddle and a strategy to not pedal too fast, and to put more effort into the uphill than the downhill I was feeling confident I could get a better time than the last two attempts, if not a Personal Best.
As it turned out I did rather smash my previous PB with a 36.00 compared to a previous of 37:42!
This is the breakdown of my times, which I have shamelessly stolen from Phil’s blog!
I had hoped to really push on the last lap but I started to get a stitch on my right side during the second lap and these got worse and worse as I went round. I thought about stopping at the end of lap three but thought I might as well keep going. I had some trouble with gears on the uphill for the second and final laps, particularly the final one I couldn’t change from 4th to 3rd which slowed me down. On the second one I picked too easy a gear briefly and lost my position on my pedals as a result. I spent less time than previously ‘resting’ my posterior because of saddle problems, and when I did I spent more time leaning forward and put some extra push into the pedals afterwards to maintain momentum. I did more of this on the downhill and probably on the third lap, and pushed harder on the final downhill, but not as much as I had intended. I ended up sprinting more than I expected to on the final uphill because there were some other riders on a cool down lap in the way and I had to put in extra effort to get through and gap them.
My next problem is fixing my stitch – this is apparently to do with shallow breathing, but I think dehydration must be an element. I can’t drink on the bike, and I was less well prepared than previously. I was also obviously putting more in than before. The first time I didn’t even know if I would finish it, so I didn’t push excessively, and the last time I didn’t push so much because the wind meant I wasn’t going to break my PB. I was also disheartened that I had lost a lot of time on the previous try when my set-up meant it wasn’t possible to push and the wind had had a negative impact as well.