by Ste Feeney
On Sunday I took part in the annual LVRC time trial championships, which have been held in Warwickshire for many years now. This was my second participation. The first one being last year although my reasons for entering that one differed slightly from this year. Last year I bought a new Time trial bike to use mainly in a few early team time trials. However, as the ‘Beast from the East’ forced their cancellation, I thought I’d better do a time trial and test the new steed.
The LVRC time trial seemed like a perfect opportunity. I hadn’t really done a decent time trial for a few years but, despite being well beaten for the win that year, I was really pleased to be amongst some really good riders and ‘testers’ which gave me some renewed enthusiasms for solo events. I did a few more time trials that year and had a few decent results so when I entered this year I hoped to improve on my 4th place from the year before. Despite a quiet start to the year, I knew I was in pretty good shape after our annual trip to Majorca, so was going to give it my all!
Unfortunately for team mate Craig, a heavy fall and broken arm suffered during the final few miles of the Majorca trip ruled him out of this year’s race so I was the team’s sole representative on the day.
The race distance had increased from the previous year, up from 13 to 17.5 miles. After studying the new route I realised that this essentially removed a particularly steep, unpleasant climb after around 4 miles (a climb that resulted in our Tony Greenhalgh renaming the event the National hill climb TT champs!). Therefore, I believed the route would be a rolling one with no nasty surprises.
In the days leading to the event I had decided that I was going to use my 50mm front wheel as I expected some blustery winds and also to keep my bike weight down for the hilly route. This meant altering the brakes. As I removed the brake cover to access the front brake I noticed how dirty it was inside and decided to clean it. Unfortunately (and this won’t come as a surprise to those familiar with my mechanical skills), my heavy handedness, a source of many broken bolts and sheared threads over the years, meant I cracked the fairing right down the middle! However, I convinced myself that the tidy repair job executed (specifically, the generous helpings of shiny, smooth insulation tape) had actually reduced the front end drag of my bike.
As I prepared for the start I knew I’d have to pace myself well. Last year I’d crawled along on the final couple of miles and finishing steep climb after pushing too hard early on. As I set off I settled quickly into a nice rhythm and my leg sensations indicated I might be on a ‘good day’ so I was careful not to get carried away. The cross winds at the start were noticeable and I was glad to have opted for ‘only ‘ a 50mm front wheel. The use of my beloved Campagnolo rear disc wheel was never in doubt. After an early glance down at my computer to check progress I realised I hadn’t reset it after my warm up so a quick reset and I was on my way! I don’t use a power meter or heart rate monitor so I had to have some reference, even if that was only speed and distance covered.
After a 2.4 mile crosswind stretch, the course veered left, up a bit of a drag to what I termed the top of the course. This turned out to be a lovely stretch of straight, virtually flat, traffic free, open road (save for just one short, steep, climb) that took us to a left hand turn just before the halfway point. Here I realised that, although I had correctly identified the exclusion of the nasty, steep climb from last year, I had failed to assess that a different longer and steeper climb had replaced it! As my speed was almost instantly wiped away by the gradient, I engaged a gear pretty close to, if not actually, my bottom gear and pushed on to the top trying not to press too hard so I wouldn’t be able to get going again. Once over the top I quickly got back into my rhythm, making decent progress through some winding lanes and rolling climbs. The miles seemed to pass quickly as I headed to the finish, maintaining a good pace all the way and not feeling like I was fading as I had the previous year. Onto the last climb and, unlike last year, I sprinted up it full bore to the finish line.
I was so pleased with my finishing sprint that I wondered whether I had pressed hard enough in the race. As the results came in I realised I had taken the win by just 3 seconds and had no doubt that my hill climb esque sprint finish probably clinched the win.
I was joint fastest on the day as well as winning my age category.
Top 3: Me 41:45 David Kiernan- (Race Rapid) 41:48 Tim Smith – (Welland Valley CC) 42:12
I was naturally delighted to win my first national title and even more pleased after analysing the results afterwards and realising that the 2nd place rider had actually put 41 seconds into me last year in this event over the shorter distance!
I am a great believer in a pint of Guinness the night before a race but realised I’d actually benefited from an accumulation of Guinness consumption over a few days before the race. Therefore, I shall be conducting further experimentation in order to establish the optimum Guinness consumption rate and period in the build up to events!
I’d like to thank the organisers, Team Jewson/ M.I.Racing, who have put on this great event for many years and to all the helpers and Marshalls that contributed to such a well run event.