Fathers Day. Whilst most dads are enjoying a lie in on Sunday morning, the alarm has gone off at 5:45am. Exactly 2hrs later I will start a 50m TT from a lay by on the A49 just south of Whitchurch. Completely the other end of the spectrum in terms of glamour of your typical Ironman race. £8 to enter, clocking on at a local village hall, given a number to pin on your back and directed 3 miles away to the said lay by to start an all out effort over 50 miles.
For me this is just a training session, I have trained the day before, I will train later in the day. There is something I love about time trialling. The simplicity, just you vs the clock, the discipline of having to hold that aero position, whilst pushing your body to its limits.
1hr 51 mins later it’s done and 2nd place and a decent chunk off my PB on that course so a good mornings work.Despite having done triathlon for over 20 years so I would say a seasoned cyclist, 4 or 5 years ago I would have only dreamed of having ridden this fast. In fact I remember it was a big deal for me going under the hour for 25 miles on this exact course. I was a decent triathlete too having won the British Age Group Champs overall at Liverpool in 2013. Somehow though I knew there was more and the answer was cycling. Learning to ride a bike fast became a project.
To do this I was convinced I had to immerse myself in the world of time trialling. I was already fit but against some of the best time trialists I was probably losing 10 minutes over 25 miles. How was that possible?
I started doing a few races and as you get better at pacing and feel you start to drop a bit of time. Nothing much just little chunks. Next a bike fit, bit more time. I started looking at equipment, wheels, tyres, skin suits, the list is endless. Then a big decision was made…..the wind tunnel. £1050 later for 2 hours, but a major breakthrough. New helmet, new skinsuit, new position. Unfortunately this did mean leaving a team I had raced for successfully for 3 years as I refused to compromise on any item of kit. It didn’t end there either, ceramic speed came along, more tweaking of position, in fact it just becomes an ever evolving challenge to keep finding speed.
Now all of that is the glitz. I also had to train in a different way, at the end of the day I am still very much a triathlete so I don’t train to be a time trialist, but there is a huge crossover between the two. It’s often not pretty, it’s very rare I just go out for a ride with friends without having to knock out some intervals of some kind. That’s when I am allowed out! Most of my time is spent on the turbo getting the biggest bang for my buck in a controlled environment.
At Total Tri Training many of our coaches have been through this same process I have, to learn to ride our bikes fast whilst swimming and running and putting the 3 together come race day. More details of our bike fitting service here:
Our coaching services here: