Push-off, then just pedal as hard as you bloody can for 10 miles, and pray the junctions are in your favour. Really? That’s it? Welcome to time trialling on open roads.
I’m an experienced cyclist, but this is new! Time-trialling has its own uniform, its own customs. Roll up to a meeting point, pay a fiver, pin a number on your back, and wait for your call-up to the start line.
It feels odd at the best of times being one woman among 30 male riders – like you’ve turned up to the wrong party, that you don’t ‘deserve’ to be there. The guys look like they mean business – they’ve got aero lids and Super-9 wheels. When they pass, it sounds like a small helicopter. And at the start line, some old fella holds your bum for 30 seconds. So it’s not for everyone!
But that push-off is massively motivating. Best effort for the next 10 miles, on your own, junctions willing, no drafting, nowhere to hide. The ultimate test of what you can do on the bike. On short TTs the idea of pacing goes completely out of the window, you just put the hammer down and hope you don’t get caught embarrassingly early. I’m determined to get to the 3-mile point without being caught. Wait – I’m still going! Nobody’s on my tail! In fact I didn’t get caught until 7 miles; legs of jelly and chest heaving with the effort, but my resolve to get to the finish was massive.
Then you wait for the numbers to be crunched and spit out onto a scrap of paper. 30:23! I’m not the slowest! And I’m now massively motivated to have another go, to go for sub-30. Maybe with better wind, different food, tipping out half my bidon… who knows which marginal gains could shave those 24 seconds off next time. Although I’m not sure if I’m ready yet to rock an aero helmet…