Sports (other)

Time Trials….

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The worlds best endure a TT as part of the grand tours and other big stage races on the World Tour, they are part  of many of not all national championships and many clubs run those own club 10 or something similar. The local Triathlon club to me is no exception. As a cycling club we are more than involved as many Tri members are cycle club members too. Yesterday evening I turned out for my first TT, hoping not to make a complete fool of myself. 

I had made the decision a few weeks back after a club email and after checking the diary, things matched up, so it was done, I was going to complete my first TT. That weekend I even did the course to see what it was like and to see what I would be letting myself in for, however this test ride was nothing compared to what I experienced but useful never the less. 

A friend had let me use his TT bars which I am very greatful for and will now need to purchase my own set. The test run was completed without the TT bars, so logging the test time I felt I could go quicker. So 6.30pm came and it was time to get changed. 

The start of the TT is very close so leaving at 6.30pm for a 7pm registration allowed for a pre warm up, warm up and time to feel relaxed on the bike. Registration was complete and an estimate time given (as I had no previous time to work on). This was 29 minutes from the organiser, and I went with it. It is now time to mention the test time had been 29.45 without TT bars so I went with this estimation. It meant that out of the 35 riders I would be the eleventh rider out, the fastest riders going off last. The goal enjoy it and try two things, catch my minute man and not be caught by the guy behind me. 

I was called forward to the start and elected to have the bike held so I could remain clipped into my pedals. The countdown started, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, then the final 10 second countdown before GO! Strangle I remember is all quite well but as soon as I was off I wanted to get a good cadence and in a high gear and maintain the pace. I was quickly into position on the TT bars and felt quick. The heart rate was up and getting higher and I knew I had to get close to the redline without going over it to much so not to burn out. Entering the first straight I could see my minute man, this spurred me on to make the catch, but when, if at all would this come. At these speeds a minute is a lot of road to make up. Head down keep the cadence steady in a high gear and push, keep pushing. I went through the bends before I knew it and then onto a second straight. It was deceptive but looking up I could see my minute man and I was sure I was getting closer. Keep going and don’t get carried away, I had to tell myself. The first half, the out section of the course is downhill so I needed to not give it all so I didn’t burn up in the second half. I was getting closer to my minute man and knew I could make the catch, but just had to keep going and it would come. 

Half way was reached and thankfully a clear roundabout meant I didn’t have to ease up much, just enough to get round safely, my minute man was within reach. I thought just get the cadence up and keep pushing in the gear I was in and you’ll make the catch and then we will see what happens. Catch made first goal achieved, I was not on the way back and saw the later, faster starters pushing hard on the out part of the course. Some of these guys and girls were on very expensive TT bikes complete with arrow helmets and skin suits. Just keep pushing and go. The pain was starting to kick in now and I just had to push that to the back of my mind, which was not easy. 7 miles gone and onto the straight again, this time into a headwind, grit teeth and keep pushing I said to myself, numerous times. 

Back through the last village before the end and into the final drag before the uphil finish. Keep the tuck going and push, it was hard to to is now as I was on the limit. I was in the red and with 1.5 miles left it was a case of just hanging in there. I must have made a few down shifts as I entered the hills and then, bang I had been caught by the rider who started behind me. He pulled away into the final hill and I just gave it one last effort. I thought I would catch rider 12, but I was empty and had nothing left. The final straight to the line and I gave it everything. I crossed the line, shouted out my ride number “eleven” (not sure if I needed to but did it anyway) and looked down at the Garmin, 28 something I remember seeing. 

I reached the pub car park where we met at the start and then again at the end, whilst waiting for other club riders to return, and was asked that looked quick what was it? 28 someing was my reply, whilst short of breath. “Good time for a first effort” was a reply I heard more than once. I felt good which what I had achieved. The times were read out after the final rider was home and I had recorded a time of 28.32 which I am happy with. I had beaten my estimation, caught my minute man, so have to be happy, well on reflection I an over the moon with my efforts. 

There are two more TT’s left and luck has it I am not away so will be able to participate. It will be hard but now I have a target time, I’ll give it a go and let’s see what happens. 

So did I enjoy my first TT! no I loved it and can’t wait for the next one. 

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Jacket and Gillet in one

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This jacket may be coming to the end of its life as Craft are no doubt bringing out a new version or newer jacket, but I picked up this jacket recently for a very good knocked down price (£40 off, just paying £30!)

What I liked about the jacket was the fact you could detach the arms and then make it a Gillet. The large pocket at the back is big enough to store the arms and your essentials when out riding.

The fit is snug which means I don’t get any flapping unless I am riding with it unzipped, and it does keep the wind off my torso which is what I hoped for. It is also certainly shower proof which is great, but I am yet to test this in the full on British wet weather. However I have a d2b jacket which keeps the rain out. I also doing it will keep me warm in the depths of winder but then again I would be riding in the other jacket in these conditions (or working on the indoor trainer).

The jacket itself will easily roll up and fit I to the jersey pocket, so is ideal of those spring and autumn ride when the rain doesn’t know when to come or stay away. As I have mentioned before this jacket/gillet is good enough to keep the winds out which we get at these times of year.

This is my first experience of the CRAFT brand and I have to say that I am impressed. After looking at some of their of their products and seeing the price tags I had an idea they could be good. So far so good. Now just to get out on the bike to test the jacket some more.

**if any company wishes me to test/review their product as a commuter on a bike then please get in touch**

Running away with it

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It is not something I am very good at and which is probably why I have refrained from running in the past. However this changed last week when at work there was a 10km charity team relay. Basically team of five members who ran two laps of the school field on a course which had been measured out at 1km.

As the winter approaches and the evenings become darker it isn’t as easy to get out on the bike in the week. The dark evenings also provide a suitable amount of cover for when I pull myself around the streets close to my house. If I manage to continue to keep this going it will really help with the winter training which until now has fully stopped due to the pressures of work etc. I have managed 2 runs since the weekend the first being quite frankly horrible. My breathing was out and I had to walk more than I felt I should and I managed 3.5km in a very sorry 26 minutes. At least the second run last evening was better as I managed 4km in 25 minutes so at least there has been some progress. I know these figures are hardly earth shattering (that is just the effect when my heavy body smashes into the ground), but I suppose it is a start and we all have to start somewhere.

What do I hope to achieve? I hope the end result will be less weight which will help when on the bike (and running) and improved cardiovascular ability which means I can go further for longer. This combined with the full on training programme come the spring should have me fully prepared for 2014 and the rides which I aim to complete, Ride London 100 (if I get through the ballot), either London to Brighton or Dunwich Dynamo and the possibility of the school cycle event which I will need to organise.

So there could well have been a shift in activity, along with a change in the season, but the end goal is still less weight and go longer on the bike. All through hard work and more hard work. No turning to the dark days of cycling to help me through the long dark winter which faces us.

Cycling adventures, the possibilities

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I have been away from the blog for a few days and there has been good reasons for this. Work has started again and this is taking more of my time. I have access to the gym again and this has again taken me away from the road and the blog but still helps with the general cardio work. I have also taken to reading as a leisure activity and reading ebooks. I have downloaded a few and will work my way through these over the coming weeks and months.

This may seem as not much of a big deal as thousands of people read ebooks and real books on a daily basis. I am coming to the party very much as a latecomer and if I left it any longer it could be argued I could have missed the boat all together. The fact is I have never felt I had the time to read but after trying it I have decided that I need more of a work like balance and reading is helping me in this regard, for the time being.

So what am I reading. Well I’ve the summer I have read two “normal” books as outlined in an earlier entry, and the cycling theme continues with the latest read. However the book of the moment is a very interesting account of a teacher who cycled from England to Italy over 5 weeks during the summer holidays. Crossing Europe on a bike called Reggie by Andrew Sykes. Since the first adventure Andrew and Reggie have cycled across Europe again (along a different route) and I will no doubt read about this latest adventure in due course. I am yet to finish the book but after 129 pages it is a good read and I long for the time I can read the next chapter. I will be doing exactly that after this entry has been completed.

This has also got me thinking. They say teachers should, inspire people. Andrew has inspired me to take on and complete a long distance cycling challenge. At this stage I don’t know what this could be but I will give it some serious thought over the next few months and like Andrew I might take some inspiration from you people out there.

Andrew can be followed via his blog as well as on Twitter or @cyclingeurope. You can also follow Reggie on Twitter to @ReggieTheBike. At this stage I would like to thank Andrew for sharing his adventures and the fact that if I copy him and complete my own challenge I would also have to set up a Twitter account for my bike. This would have to take part of the planning and could take a serious amount of time.

The question is what will be my challenge? Will it involve Europe. I would like to say that at this stage I can’t see me doing this alone and would feel a lot safer with another cyclist present. If nothing else to talk to and share the experience with.