10 August. Bicester Millennium CC 9-up TTT

10th August
Cycle 32km, inc. TTT. 17.2km/24:48 __ HR159(170)
This was a new event, a 9-up TTT around the Silverstone Formula 1 circuit. All proceeds to charity and quite a few local teams and clubs invited (about 35 on the start sheet, if I recall). BMCC have organised 4-ups and even a 9-up on the Weston-on-the-green circuit before, but it’s a bit tight on there for a 9-up, hence the move to Silverstone, I guess.

I’d had three days off since the 12-hour, and the week off work, a large amount of which had been spent dossing around in front of the TV, watching the Olympics. Despite the good weather, being a bit saddle-sore I’d not fancied riding my bike and had only managed a cursory 9km erg on Thursday morning, so I was feeling a little nervous about how I’d be going on Friday evening. I met my club-mates and after our scrutineering (we had to be on road bikes, with UCI-standard road wheels and helmets), they warned me that the practice session was about to close and they were getting out on the circuit. There was  a lot of faffing about, so I went and did a lap by myself. To be honest I was totally confused – since I last watched a Formula 1 GP here, they’d radically re-arranged the circuit and moved the pits to somewhere completely new!

Our start was quite late, just after 8pm, so I went and watched a few of the other teams setting off and riding around before going for a 15-minute warm up on the inner circuit road. Then we formed up in our pit garage and were marshalled off to the start. My club mates had done a few practices together beforehand as 4ups and 9ups, and had a rough idea of what order they’d ride in, so I just slotted myself somewhere into the middle of the order.

From the off we did an almost too-steady 9-up through-and-off (although I managed to get the lead as we climbed up out of the pit lane, pah), and we found it quite windy in places. We weren’t too good at holding it together through the curves – a bit of a lack of racing experience – although it was all very familiar to me. Back in the late 1990s, when I started to take my racing seriously, all the good time triallers were also good road racers. The golden age of timetrialling was 5 or 10 years past, and there wasn’t the core of specialist testers like there was then (and are again now). So what you did to get fast was go road racing and in chaingangs. In those days I was doing a road race every other week, plus a Tuesday night chaingang and then on Thursdays I was track racing at Palmer Park, Reading, or doing a crit at Milton Keynes Bowl. Plenty of hard through-and-off, which these days testers like to duplicate with specialist interval training.

Anyway, cracks started to appear in our pace line from the very first half a lap, especially on the headwind sections, where we should have been riding nice and compact. It seemed to me that everyone was trying to ride too cautiously, and taking too long to drop to the back of the paceline – I think they were worried about not being able to jump to re-join the tail of the line. This type of riding is very much like an extended interval session with solid recoveries, which most timetriallers should be doing every week, and I was surprised how quickly we shed people out the back. Our second lap was the fastest, when we had a good core of riders coming through the line. We only had to finish with 5 riders, so by the last lap, me, Rich and Oly (who was by far the strongest) were doing most of the work and two others were hanging on for grim death.

We ended up 16th, about half the way down the field, with 24:48 for the 17.2km [Results]. It had been hard work, but I’d enjoyed the experience of racing on the Formula 1 circuit.

 In our pit garage before the start (only 8 here – one more to turn up yet).

 In the staging area in the pit lane before the start

A short video clip near the end of the first lap, I’m second wheel: