National 25 Mile Champs TT

“On Sunday morning, the UK’s finest time trialists gathered in the small town of Tattershall, Lincolnshire to take part in the Blue ribbon event of time trialing. With some technical bends, rough roads and windy conditions to negotiate……”

Or so VeloUK reported of the RTTC National 25 mile time trial.

I’d say the finest were there – alongside a great selection of we ‘normals’ who can’t quite boast gazelle like super human power-to-weight ratios.

I signed up to this event because I was looking for a full field of ladies, and the National seemed like a good place to go head-to-head (head to arse, trailing far behind!) with some of the women at the top of the field.

So – whilst Brennan was out being fast in a the Crawley Wheelers 41 (see right) – I packed up my little race bag and drove to foreign fields (quite literally) in search of a good race against a selection of the TT greats.

Along the way, I discovered many things:

– Lincs is rather old and rather traditional. But it seems, fairly recently (eg since the birth of TomTom…) they have had to update and build new major roads. On approaching these roads – good old TomTom is totally useless.

– Lincs is not a place with radio stations other than Radio2, Radio4, and 3G is a luxury.

– In this strange land – there are flocks of suicidal birds that WILL dive bomb your windscreen, leaving behind genuine residue of entrails.

– Booking the cheapest hotel that is 20 miles away is not cost effective when that 20miles becomes 40miles due to diversions resulting in extra petrol expenditure.

So – as you can see – my journey was punctuated with the odd little anecdotes, each of which I can assure you would be a pleasure to tell. But let’s focus on….

The Course…

Being an avid new follower of the TimeTrial Forum – I’d heard horror stories of individuals disappearing into endless pot holes, distinct wafts of chicken poo, 90 degree bends, and an eternal crosswind that can turn ugly and hit a rider head on. So I set out to test ride it.

What did make the whole experience fun was passing around 20 riders doing exactly the same thing. I’d say the whole weekend was one of fellowship as racers from all over the country crept out to support our odd little secretive and niche sport.

The road surface was not as bad as I’d pictured – and I was pleasantly surprised to find the course pan flat. But the wind was something else. I found myself becoming petrified of every break in the low-lying hedgerows as  the winds hit me side on in a pummelling sort of fashion.

More worryingly, I soon understood the need for the repeated TAKE CARE AT BEND/BRIDGE/TJUNCTION warnings in the course description. And, reassuringly, to make sure we knew all about the dodgy roads- the organisers even put out some extra special warnings on the normal course decoration:

After a windy 25miles, and a puncture, I loaded my kit back in to the car to return to my cosy Travelodge. I reached the ‘Lodge’ (as it was affectionately called by the Moto staff) at about 8pm and settled down to the most appetising dinner on offer. It wasn’t really what I had planned:

Despite all this, I went to bed still feeling pretty buzzing and excited about what the morning had to bring.
Race day
Prettified bike, borrowed wheels and borrowed skin suit were waiting for me in the morning. As you can see – I’d packed the perfect wardrobe for a girls weekend away:

So back in my little tin can I got, and off to the start – soon to be met by my good friend Lizzy in all her Brighton Mitre finery.

I won’t bore you with the waiting – points of note include seeing Michael Hutchinson – King of 10, 25, 50 and 100 mile TT dethroned and smiling as he gracefully took third in the Mens event.

And finally my ride began. It started, as always – the same – being held up on some obscure layby by a strange man as another, holding a stopwatch murmurs ’30 seconds’ *wait* ‘Ten seconds’ *wait* … 3.2.1.Go!Goodluck’

As always – I murmured a cross between ‘get on with it you silly bitch’ and ‘just do your best my love’ to my Jeckell and Hyde self, and off we went (fighting a little internal battle of anger and reassurance whilst singing Slipknot songs to keep the rhythm up). Apparently, I looked like this:

The first six miles were total bliss. My only worry was that I’d run out of gears (on my silly compact… ). 25/26/27miles per hour with ease, flat road, and I knew I had to make the most if it, because ‘TURN’ was coming up. TURN into crosswind. Followed by LEFT followed by BRIDGE, and about another four more bridges. I sat up too many times trying to check the arrows – too scared to go wrong having travelled so far – but it must be said the organisers did a great job of the marshalling and it would have been hard to go wrong.

The bridges were followed by SHARP RIGHT into Frithsville and BANG – the 12.5miles half way sign which heralded the start of 8 flat miles direct into headwind.

Along that stretch I overtook 3 riders, and was overtaken once by a women in Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team (number 62) who seemed miraculously unaware of the wind that was pummelling us or the sandpaper surface. I think that section was basically all about being aero – fighting the wind – and not losing concentration. I caught myself pedalling at some silly RPM (my average is usually around 76, I think it had dropped to something even lower – Maurice does not refer to my pedal-mashing unfairly..)

The best incentive over that whole section was that I knew it was followed by a RIGHT and 4miles of beautiful tailwind. So if I didn’t rinse my legs then, I was going to regret it because in those 4 miles all I could do was spin.

And so finally, I turned left, and counted down the miles to the finish. I got held up in a silly turning car – but again – having got this far I wasn’t going to sacrifice it and start dancing with cars to make up 3 seconds (ok – I wish I had).

The times looked like this:

Quite clearly – this is not all the women TTing in the Nation (I wish we could all turn up – that would be cool!) but being the National Champs event, the ones really going for it are going to turn up so it’s a fair bit of competition and I was pretty pleased with my place.
It was far from a PB – but when Julia Shaw rides a 56 it never would be. I’m pleased to see the women around my time have some pretty decent PBs around the hour mark (Where are they doing these times?! Really – what is it with me and this addiction to sporting 25 courses this year??) The course might not have been fast, but it was one hell of a challenge, and the organisers did a fantastic job.
So – all in all, a great day out and a chance to rub shoulders with some of the women I usually only see in race reports. It was one long weekend, and I’d rather there had been less driving, fewer bird-bombs and a better dinner – but I’d say it was well and truly worth it.

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