First TT in a decade

Now a foreword for the naysayers - yes - yes I did ride a time trial the week before. I rode it. I got on and there was a start and an end. But there was freewheeling, there was waving to people. I got from A to B - there was a clock, I was pushing 250 watts, but it was all good, pleasant even. It was not raced. Naysayers - equally - you know who you are - and age, gender, and the like are equally not 'reasons' they are excuses ;)

With that caveat out of the way - this week I rode my first TT in what must have been a decade.

18 miles of slobbering discomfort and pain.

Stopping to a sensation of elation, faintness, light-headed, almost drunken euphoria.

The clarity emerging from the previous all-but-hour of  single minded like focus... of dragging this chunky slow frame (me not bike) around two laps of a local 9 mile course - all in the name of 'something to do on on a Tuesday evening'.

While both human constructs and constructions - there is no fairer judge than time and the clock. Sure the weather, the traffic and a million other minor effects come into it - but essentially it is you, versus yourself, against time.

Having signed on and taken a number it was all too quickly time to empty my pockets, pin on my number. The number balancing game. Is it on too loose will it flap around? Is it too tight that it will be snug up to the point it tears free and flaps uncontrollably like some clapping seal back there. Ritual like. Too high, too low, just right. Goldilocks has a lot to answer for.

The warning is given, and it is time to head up to the start. The bike unfamiliar, gears comedic and indecisive, and curiously - despite my best efforts the wheel would occasionally rub against the chain stay if I stood on the pedals too much... but hey, here I am - I am committed now - lets see how far I get!

Heading out of the carpark where we are all assembled, up the road before looping back - butterflies in my stomach, the next hour uncertain - short of the discomfort of staying low and pushing like you depended upon it.

Rolling up the start point - the apex of the A it would seem (ARAF == SLOW in Welsh).

"10 Seconds."

... and the reality dawns - butterflies are surging through you now... lets turn them into something useful.


As memories of Thunderbirds theme tune flash to mind as the count down continues.

A very deep breath indeed follows.

"3-2-1. Go."

Wheel and gear concerns in mind - slow and steady - no sprint - and we are off. The starters now behind you, your journey underway and the noise of things around you replaced by the white wind noise around your ears.

Progress is good. I have two riders in front of me. However I am going to catch them quite quickly. The question is how long I can hold off riders behind me. This I want more than anything right now. This is my very reason for being - unrealistic - but so very very important. I push, hug low, and push, as I start to feel the burning in my legs.

The progress along the valley floor and over the bridge is good. Memories of the bridge ahead and the steam-locomotive-like noises of the lenticular carbon disk of old come back to me. The wind is favourable, and looks as if I am going to make my minute man before The Wall is out. Up through the trees is okay, seated, and in the lowest gear I have 42x18. What kind of an idiot has that on his bike these days (the type of idiot with a bike with wheels pre free-hub and cassette era that take 7 speed screw on blocks). Slowly, cautiously - remembering these are not hyper-glide and they will happily skate around between cogs -  stepping back up through the gears I am good for the turn and off along the top road - the wind still, if not more so in my favour. The pain having moved from legs to lungs, and I am noticeably in debt now.

My priorities are holding off riders, and making the first lap with me off the ground, and with the bike the right way up. Keeping as low as I can, lungs burning, and fighting off the the need to just ease up. The plan is all out for lap one, and then see if I can get around lap two... especially as I have no idea on timings, no idea on the time even, and no idea on where I should be at any given time. There was no progress there was just "this bit is hard" and "this bit is harder".

Past the old white house on the right that looks like it should have been a pub once, and then down towards Llandurnog - bigger gear turning and into the turn at the bottom what feels like way too fast.

Traffic at the main road junction... stationary cars in front of me, and cars from the right. Foot down. DENIED!

Not for long though, and pressing back on. From memory this was a stretch where I was looking to make up time... yet it felt like riding through glue. This must be into wind as I try to picture the course in my head. Yup. A glance behind me on a long stretch and there is no one... they must be just back there behind that bend.

Blue hand feeling less of a drag than I recall, as with the road beyond, but its hard going, increasingly so - certainly into wind as I make what appears to be a climb today up to the roundabout and bypass. Maybe I was faster then, I was certainly heavier - pushing on. This is now tough going. Rolling road but inside ring. I am trying to tell myself it will be the same for everyone.

Bypass turn is good and then on - head down - while line following - big gear - churning. Finally some proper progress on smooth straight road. Slowing now as the road rises to the roundabout and the turn.... lap one, where it would appear all speed is scrubbed off and the guys with the stopwatch come into view. If I had the confidence its worth getting out of the saddle here in future.

Wow - so that’s a lap done in one piece - go old bike go! The position does not feel powerful - but it does feel aerodynamic - is that a good thing? Who knows... the reality is dawning that I am done now, and I am facing another of the same. At least I know where to push now.

Along the valley floor was good again but The Wall this time took its toll, even after the wall I was heavily in debt burning shifting from legs to chest - and coming to the turn that was all I had... the white house on the right could not come soon enough - I was bleeding time from every orifice right now - or at the very least that is how it felt.

Pushing the descent - this time more confident, lower, sustained, and down through the village to the junction without so much as shifting position and on without interruption.

The slog along the bottom road, fearful of looking around - convinced I could hear people approaching now - but just the wind in my straps / helmet.

Sure enough The Fast started to trickle by now.

Expecting the entire field to follow - was really running on empty now - and the road back to the Denbigh roundabout was taking no prisoners. In fact... it... was... slowly... pedal stroke... by pedal stroke... sapping what I had left.

At what point do you just give up and sit up?

Enough of that kind of thought: Not far now.

A group of riders on the bypass I am on and around, and now just trying to eek any energy I have left out through the pedals.

The rise, the turn, and push push push to the line.... which appears further away than it was the lap before!!

"TWO!" I shout as I pass the line not daring to look over... is that a camera? It had better not be! I take the pictures for a very good reason... I get to hide behind the lens!

I am done. Seriously. Done. All of it. Done.

Sat up, brakes, turning into the gravel of the car park - feeling a rush of endorphins, and an overly bright light-headed world and the view of the maize field moving slowly in the wind with the Clwydians behind it. Done.

Don't care how well I have done. Zero care. Behold... this barren patch - this is where I grow my 'cares'. I have achieved.

Not passed by minuteman/woman. In fact - I have not seen them yet. Two back came in just after me.

Could not have tried harder. Could have been a lot fitter. Could have had more confidence in my bike.

Turned up - did that. Have T-shirt.

Shoulder is in pain, arms is dead - properly dead about 10 miles of dead - but I have tried and achieved.

Happy days.


17 seconds slower the person I wanted match.

More than 30 seconds up on the lap one, that and a tonne more lost lap two - and didn’t it just feel like it.

Weight down, fatness up = lack of muscle. So no real surprise given lack of riding, and lack of general fitness following injury.

Third from last.

The slower two were a mile off the pace... so being beaten by them would be put the bike in a skip on the way home and get the bus. But hey. Its not every day you push yourself to the limit and keep it there for 50 odd minutes.


So what's next?

There is a five up next week - am I in? Lets see. Who else is in?


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