The first local time trial of the year that I could ride was the North Tyneside Riders 10 at Cramlington, on the M102B course otherwise best known as the course for the Barnesbury club time trials for the last few years. This was my first chance to try out my new time trial bike, so one of the main aims was to get round in one piece without anything falling off, least of all myself!
I was somewhat surprised when I got the start sheet to see that I was off number 21, or more specifically that I had been given a number ending in a one. Back in the 1990s when I first started racing I had spent years progressing up through the seeded numbers, eventually earning starts on a five (and just once on a zero). I remember looking up to the "fast" riders, certainly those with a number zero, five or one, so to be seeded on a one with my entry time from three years ago was a surprise - not to mention the thought that I'd have a fairly decent rider starting a minute behind me on a two and it wouldn't be great to get caught...Photo (c) Sarah Barratt www.northernexperienceimages.co.uk
Strangely, I've only ridden this course once before as a 2-up, so I was always going to set a best time for the course. I would have been disappointed to be slower than 24 minutes (or a 25 mph ride), and having just joined the Veterans Time Trial Association (VTTA) it would be good to tick off my standard time for 10 miles which was just 26:32.
Heading off for the start from the HQ was my first time out on the bike although I have been training on it indoors on the turbo. The first time getting onto the tri bars was "interesting" as it is an awfully long way down, but thankfully all was well and comfortable once there, and this course was going to give me plenty of practice at getting on and off the tri bars given all the roundabouts to negotiate! I made sure I got a good warm up and reached the start just in time to see the rider in front of me setting off, so pretty much perfect timing.
The weather conditions on the day were good - sunny, about 10°C and with a south westerly breeze which would help all the way out to the first turn after 3 miles.
The start of this course is a gift of a downhill that doesn't have to be climbed backup later on and with a tailwind I topped out at 38 mph on the first mile down to Plessey Checks. I was lucky to just be ahead of a rider starting their second lap and got a clear run through the roundabout and was straight up over 30 mph heading down to Crowhall roundabout. The visibility of traffic on the roundabout isn't great there, but I was fairly fortunate again and straight back up to speed towards the Three Horseshoes, passing near to the HQ where there were a few spectators out cheering riders on - thank you to them.
The Three Horseshoes roundabout is at the 3 mile mark and a quick glance at my computer showed an average speed of 29 mph, which brings the thoughts of "crikey that was quick" and "how hard is this going to be in the other direction"! I had a free run onto the roundabout and it was surprisingly fast around and even for the first section heading back west before the breeze started to bite before Crowhall roundabout was reached. I had to slow there for a car from my right and was subsequently jumped by rider number 11 who was heading for the finish on his second lap.
The last mile to the finish on this course is not kind with any sort of a westerly wind, and if anything that stretch is worse on the first lap as you've still got another 4-5 miles to go. The finish was also far closer to Plessey Checks that I had believed, so that was going to be fun to look forward to on the second lap.
Not much to report on the second lap beyond getting a completely traffic-free run through all of the roundabouts. I also held back a touch on the tailwind section to leave me with a bit more for the last two miles of headwind and that tactic seemed to work as I was faster on those two miles than on the previous lap, although I was almost seeing stars by the finish line and for the first time I can recall I didn't have anything with which to shout my number to the timekeeper as I crossed the line.
So, how did I do?
Well, I didn't fall off my bike and neither did anything else!
My finishing time was 22:54, an average speed of 26.2 mph, which left me in 50th place out of the 120 riders. And rider 22 didn't catch me either so I managed to hold my head up with a number one on my back. That was easily me best time for the course and also gave me a +3:38 against my Vets standard time. I haven't really raced properly since setting my Last Three Seasons entry time of 22:07 back in 2015, but other than that one result this put me back to where my times were in 2000.
In terms of comparing my ride to past performances it is interesting to look at a result from 1997 on the original M102 course when I recorded a time of 22:53. Admittedly that course was harder without the gift start and having to climb back over that rise on the return leg, but that time was good enough for 11th place out of 62 riders. It seems everyone is riding quickly these days as my time in this event is barely good enough for the top half of the field! The winner of that event in 1997 was Harry Walker in a time of 20:35; he was the only other rider from that event riding the NTR 10, and he finished fourth in a time of 20:31. It is good to know that I have as good as kept the gap between us the same as 20 years ago.
In further analysis, my average power output was only 256 watts but as John Warrington is fond of saying it is a time trial and not a power trial. That said, there is clearly scope for increasing that output and anecdotally I think my power management for the race was a bit all over the place so there is some work to be done there.. It is also satisfying to see from data on Strava how many riders were recording much higher outputs for slower times so I must be doing something right with my aerodynamics (credit to Chris Bush at the Giant Store Newcastle).
Finally, can anyone tell me how to get my Garmin to only start recording when I actually set off from the start line rather than when I press the start button? It always starts my time for the segment when I press the start button even though it then clicks into auto pause mode!National Ranking 19th April 2018