Author's Musing

Target TT

The final time trial of 2013 was the G25/89. It was a fairly warm morning – a massive comparison to the previous weekend which had left my fingers without feeling after five minutes of being outside.

Coach Lizzy had given me a target rider to chase. She won the SCCU bar (fastest across 10, 25 and 50 mile TTs). After some result searching and course comparison Maurice and I decided she definitely had the edge on me, but it could be close. My intention was mainly not to allow her beat me by too much. Before I go on, I’ll point out picking a target is in fact flattery – we’re all competitive or we wouldn’t be spending our weekend mornings racing down tarmac before 8am.

Anyways, I knew my target had ridden a 1.05 on the course the previous weekend, so I figured a 1.06 was a safe bet for myself. It’s a lovely course – not quick by any stretch of the imagination, and a single carriageway, but a very wide road. I often prefer dual carriageways because there is space for cars to use the other lane to overtake. On this course there is a comfortable amount of space for them to leave reams of room, and you also get the benefit of calmer country lane traffic. There are quite a few roundabouts but the route was well marshalled and arrowed.

The G25/89, Maresfield

I arrived at the start quite early (as usual) and admired the self-assured way the really experienced riders seemed to warm up and roll to their start cue with 10 seconds to spare before being off on their way. I also admired my target’s disc wheel, cool ‘sponsored team’ skinsuit and noted the awesome aero base bar on her bike. Jealous, moi?

I was riding with the Powertap wheel and it’s many spokes – I figured it would be good to get an assessment of where my FTP was at the end of the season so I could use it for winter training.

Target rider was off – she stayed out the saddle for a longer period of time than I would dare to, only settling down on the bars when up to speed. Four minutes later it was my turn. I had a little discourse with the starter who noted I had “made it this week.” He was referring to my DNF the previous week, which for some reason he believed was a DNS. I explained that actually I had made it to the start, and indeed the finish, but had DNFed because along the way I had no gears, it now transpires a rubbing rear brake, and my chain came off. I set off quite keen to prove not only had I turned up, but I would also finish, and I intended to do so with an at least decent time.

After riding the whole course the previous weekend, rather slowly, I felt I knew it. It’s out and back, and not far from the ‘turn’ roundabout, I saw my target on her way back. I looked straight across the road, caught her eye from below the visor, and turned my attention back to the road. I wished I’d spotted a landmark so I could do a time check but I didn’t. I assumed she’d be ahead of me, but by how much?

I turned the roundabout at about 32minutes, and I’d covered 13miles when I checked the time. On target easily for 1.05. That was a game changer. Heart rate was lower than it had been in mid-season events, but it was early and heart rate is often lower in the morning – and it was hitting 191 bpm on the hills so I accepted that. I didn’t look at power. It meant moving my hand to press a button. And I tend to race with time and distance, and use power to assess the ride afterwards rather than try to stick to a wattage average.

As the course is rolling, I thought perhaps I had more climbing on the way back than on the way out – so I wasn’t about to relax. I passed a rider in pink Castelli kit I’d seen at the start. She had a nice bike and looked like a strong rider so I was pleased to tick her off.

The last three miles I could see the time was going to be around the 1.05 mark – so I just kept pushing. Perhaps we had good conditions – would target rider be on for a 1.03 or a 1.04? I wasn’t sure but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop trying now.

Crossed the line. Clicked stop. 1.04.56.

Unlike the previous weekend’s PB ride, I couldn’t get off the bike and sit down for a minute because there wasn’t a convenient minor road to turn down. So I rolled back to HQ and made my normal request for juice or water at the standard TT “cake hatch”. Come to think of it, you would think I’d learn my lesson and bring own, one day.

I checked the projector listing times (which I will note was very efficiently updated as riders came in). I’d won, by about a minute. Score.

People have good days, and bad days – my target rider is about on a par with me, I just had a good ride. That being said, I was actually 15 watts down on early season TTs (so I won’t be using this one as a bar for winter training!).

The race season really, properly is done now (I know I’ve threatened early finishes a few times!). Over the last week I’ve done a little off-road riding (more on this coming soon – as my assault on the sub-clique that is cyclocross begins!), a bit of running, some swimming and ‘stuff’. Nothing high intensity. It’s odd getting ‘unfit’ – but it needs to be done at the end of a season. And really, it’s rather nice sitting on the sofa and not needing to feel all that guilty.

Coming next: Michelle has a little fun on a CX bike – and genuinely considers some muddy racing…


I'm an NCTJ Journalist and work at Cycling Weekly. Previous to this, I was the Editor at Total Women's Cycling. I've also dabbled in marketing and copywriting - having been Marketing Coordinator and Social Media/Content Editor at Evans Cycles. My first job was working on a local newspaper.  I've written for a variety of titles on a freelance basis, too. I got into cycling when I entered my first triathlon in 2010. I now race crits, road races, time trials, and do a lot of track training for not very much track racing.

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