By John Myburgh
Hurtbox! That is the only way you can describe a time trial. Somehow I put my name down for the Manchester Wheelers 50km 3-up team time trial. I sort of looked forward to it but was also a bit apprehensive. The last time I did a time trial my left leg killed me and I was thinking more of the same was to follow. On top of that, I had two team mates, Adam Baines and Nick Pilling, who are machines. Adam does time trials for fun (I’m sure there is a name for people like that and it’s not ’nice’) and Nick has a few triathlons (including Ironman) behind him so I knew this was going to be one hard 50km ride.
Also joining us this evening, the second Team Chronomaster team – rather the A team – was Craig Battersby, Ste Feeney and Karl Owen. Last year Craig was in a team with Karl and Kris. It turned out to be an eventful race as first Karl attacked his team and chased a tractor and then, once regrouped a marshall gave them directions which … well it was wrong. Needless to say Karl was spoken to and the plan for Team A was to get a podium, ok WIN was the plan…
Adam, Nick and I were off first. We had a plan, ride at a certain power, slot back in at the back and recover. One minute at the front and two on the wheels sounded good to me until we started. The idea was we go over threshold while on the front and then sub threshold on the wheels. The only problem for me was that Adam was on his TT bike and sitting behind him did not offer much in the form of protection from the gusty wind that was blowing. This resulted in me doing 1 min on the front over my threshold, then 1 min just under my threshold while Nick was on the front and then back at or just over my threshold when Adam was on the front. Needless to say… it was bloody hard but we were flying!
Craig was very clear before the start and strongly recommended we pace ourselves for the first half and then give it beans the second half. As we hurtled along the road I went through bits where my legs were screaming to stop and then where I thought I could actually go strong until the end. I missed a few turns just to provide them with comfort and thankfully my team mates were rather understanding. We crossed the finish line to complete the first of two laps. I felt great and we were absolutely flying so I recon the guys were feeling great as well. Only we turned and had a head wind!
This is when it dawned on me that I’m now in hurt box territory. Gone were my legs saying “It’s OK, we can do this”. All they were screaming now was for me to stop. At this point I was really struggling and where my loss of about three months of training due to various broken bones started showing. As bad as I felt for letting the team down and not pulling my weight I had to sit on, just holding on for dear life!
We passed a few teams (this felt great!) until WOOSH! One of the faster teams (Cover Your Car) came flying past us. It sort of woke us all up and even though we were pushing hard we upped the ante (I could feel the pain increase along with the power).
At this point I just want to point out that both Nick and I were on our standard road bikes, not TT kit. Neither one of us thought it made that much of a difference and in hindsight… stupid stupid John!
Anyway, I digress. Adam to the front and hey presto – the car people were not going that fast as we started pulling them back again. Only Adam could not stay on the front the whole way and single-handedly pull in a team kitted out to the teeth in TT gear. So slowly we saw them pull the gap out on us…
“4 miles to go” Nick shouted! Yay and shit I thought! It felt like the longest 4 miles of my life! I tried to help the guys but they did not need me… the train was heading for the station and going VERY fast! We crossed the line in 1h10 dead. Hat’s off to Adam and Nick who basically had a 2.45 UP TTT. I actually enjoyed the pain as well and cannot wait for my legs to catch up and I can actually contribute meaningfully to races like these.
As we made our way back to the race HQ our thoughts drifted to our other team, who were going for the win. We felt confident we did a good ride, 26.7mph average. When we got to HQ sure enough, we were second… and then the fast times started rolling in. The fastest team to that point did a 1:07 and a couple of seconds. The car team then came in 1:7 and a couple of seconds…
The wait for team A was agonising! And then their time came in…. 1:06:33! What a stonking ride! Craig and Karl on road bikes with tri bars, Ste on an old TT bike, no special TT gear (pointy helmets etc) and they got the win! Only they did not. Soon after their time was beaten – another team, doing an “Ashurst”, crossed the line in 1:04:27. Just to elaborate on the ‘Ashurst’ comment – the winning team did not have their riders on the start sheet. The link comes in that recently, during the Frank Morgan Memorial Race, a rider for VCUK joined the race chasing down breaks and protecting his team mates that were up the road. Now if Michael was actually entered in the race it would not have been frowned upon at all, only Mr Ashurst appears to have ‘stumbled’ onto the race and just played along…
None the less the boys did us proud in getting the podium!
Team A’s Ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/594384781
Thanks to Manchester Wheelers for organising a great event and also Ellen Isherwood for the great photos.