I ordered a new saddle on Monday after doing some research about sit bones, numbness and time trialling. The first principal of 'testing' as its commonly called by the velominati is that unless your comfortable, you can't focus on optimising your ride. The saddle was an ebay special, a seconds, but still fifty quid. Still about half the normal price. Nothing is cheap in the world of cycle racing...never has been. I fitted my new saddle and the latex tubes and Continental tyres to the bike on the Friday and loaded the bike it into the car. The forecast for Saturday was grim for Yorkshire with heavy rain. Predictable.
I arrived at Brotherton Hall, picked up my number and drove the 4 miles to the start. There was hardly anyone else around. It was a filthy day, loads of surface water and quite dark considering it was Saturday afternoon. I was going to warm up with my rollers, but opted to sit in the car and stare out the window at the rain. There were a couple of magpies sheltering under an umbrella by the side of the road.
I had remembered to bring my rear light this week, but initially it wouldn't work and it took some recharging using the car cigarette lighter socket before it would flash. I reckoned to ride a busy road in Ferrybridge in the pouring rain without good lights would be madness. As I pulled on my velotoze over my shoes, I knew at least my socks and shoes would stay dry for the ride.
I rode up and down the street for a couple of minutes and then it was time to go. I was number 34. I had driven the course before I had parked up. It was very wet, quite busy and full of long drags. As I got into my stride I knew the first half was generally uphill. There were 4 roundabouts to tackle on the route out and this certainly slowed progress. It would be pointless to skid off after travelling 2 hours to this gig. The tyres are devoid of tread, were thin and were pumped up to 80psi. Wet oil on a wet road is an ambush waiting to happen. As the occasional car came by, it threw up bucket loads of roadwater, but I was wet already. It's not so much about being wet on a bike, but its the cold that makes riding miserable. I was a little wary of water filled pot-holes along the course and tried to take a line away from puddles which often drew me into the centre of the lane.
I reached the turn in 14:07. That was a minute down on where I wanted to be, so it meant I would have to bury myself on the return leg. There was no repeat of the previous weeks discomfort on the saddle front. That allowed me to concentrate on the riding. I was back through the various roundabouts before long and glancing at my garmin mounted on the bike stem, I had less than 30 seconds to reach the finish line which I could see out of the wet safety glasses I was wearing. The objective was to crack 26 minutes. The fall-back was to beat 26:11, recorded a fortnight ago in Bishopton. Returning to the Hall with my number, I was pleased to see my time given as 25:59. Phew, that was tight, but mission accomplished...until next year.
Monday, 3 September 2018
We crept out of the Weem B&B on Sunday with the bike in the back. It was quiet and the sky pewter grey but it was dry. Only the ravens cackled in the nearby trees. A red squirrel hung off the bird table.
We made our way over the high road by Amulree through Crieff as the rain started. It was light and sporadic by the time we got to Cambusbarron near Stirling. The event was the Scottish Vets 30 mile time trial. Two laps of an A class road, turning at roundabouts at either end of the strip. Flat as a pancake.
I was off second, at 9:02am. I signed on and spoke to the organisers as to how best to get to the start which was around a mile and a half away. I dug my gear out and realised that I had forgot my rear light. Having a red flashing rear light is usually required in time trials. A good back light that lights up your buttox like a Christmas Tree in Times Square is no bad thing given the questionable quality and attitude of some drivers. After locating a cheap rear light in the boot, I managed to fix it to to the seat post using my wifes hair bobbles. Very Heath Robinson. Some much for aerodynamics, I thought!
I wrestled with the new ‘velotoze’, tight rubber overshoes that keep the water out and apparently are supposed to improve aerodynamics. Twelve quid. Cheap at half the price. I was ready to go. At the start line things were not quite fully formed, with one lad sent running to get a start-sheet and one of the starters advising that we wouldn’t be held up before the start, and then promptly stepping forward to hold me up as I prepared to set off.
With no appearance on the first rider, I was first off. I got into my stride and got up to speed. There was hardly any wind which was a blessing and I was soon turning at the roundabout under the watchful gaze of two marshalls. The tarmac was mostly smooth with only a couple of patched sections and some bumpy stuff at a road junction. I tried to concentrate on holding my upper body still and focus on delivering as much power to my spindly thights as I could. I was soon passing the start and on the way past for the first time was slightly smug in the fact that I was nearly halfway through my ride and the riders starting had all that pain to come. I had to slow at the second turn for traffic and began the second lap. I was experiencing some discomfort in the under-carriage area with more than a little creeping numbness. Normally on the bike I tend to be quite animated, always off and on the saddle. This discipline of holding the same position for several miles seemed to be affecting circulation, and not in a good way. One or two late starters came past me between 20 and 25 miles and their smooth, powerful and compact style reminded me of what I was trying to achieve. Continuing to push a big gear my discomfort was becoming more pronounced and I was relived to finish after 1hr:21minutes, some way behind Carlos Riise who won in 1hr:07minutes.
Mrs Mac was in attendance at the finish. I struggled to dismount. My hips were in a bad way. Temporarily incapacitated, it was murder in the car park trying to get my gear off as the rain began again. I was reluctant to sit down when I got back into the hall in case I couldn’t get up again. Surveying the results board, Marg couldn’t quite believe that I was 4th last, casting a surprised eye over the field of crusty old lads who despite their decrepitude, still somehow remembered how to exculpate 24 and 25 miles per hour. I was even beaten by a mustochio who admitted to just getting back from a double hip replacement. That's how I felt.
We returned to Weem for lunch at Eilean Creagan. Having finished Flowers for Algernon, a short but enjoyable if a little dark, read by Daniel Keyes, I recovered slowly in the Water Mill café in Aberfeldy in the late afternoon after purchasing William Boyds latest novel ‘The Dreams of Bethany Melmoth’ in the book shop upstairs. Previously I really enjoyed 'Any Human Heart' and 'Restless', both superb novels; but conversely, I failed to get through Brazzaville Beach.
A beer in 'the Fountain' later and an early bed saw me up and out on a recovery ride on Monday Morning up toward Glen Lyon past Fortingall. Was it really the birthplace of Pontius Pilate? Who would make that up?