Words by Ste Feeney
I donʼt hide the fact the I love a good team time trial. The equipment, the ‘all for one and one for allʼ – ‘in it togetherʼ attitude, the technique and the suffering too!
When it all comes together on the day itʼs so satisfying. Unfortunately, as a team this has happened rarely but could we finally be getting our act together?
This yearʼs National Team time trial championships, over a 50km for teams of 3 riders, was to be held in Cheshire so I was keen for the team to enter a couple of teams. However, injuries and commitments meant that we only had one team but I reckoned it was a decent one!
Jimmy Smith and Tom Hanlon agreed to join me. Tom is a top local tester, and not a bad roadie too!, with a super aero style. Jimmy is also a great tester and has been flying in road races this year.
As we were a new team with no experience of riding these type of events together we decided to have a little practice session a couple of weeks before the event. We chose a Tuesday evening club 10 on Rainford to announce our intentions for the team time trial. With very little discussion before hand regarding tactics, the event turned out to be crash course in how not to ride a team time trial rather than a confidence booster ahead of the big event! There were men everywhere! Splitting up because of standing traffic, men blowing up (after a heavy training session earlier that day 🙄 )and just general chaos.
Our subsequent discussions over Whatsapp proved far more constructive. We had hoped for another try out but the non stop rain dampened our motivation somewhat. However, we remained upbeat for the event itself.
The Nationals took place on the 16th June around a course in Cheshire essentially taking in 3 laps of Byley / Middlewich covering 50km. There were plenty of junctions and potential for hold ups but it was a very flat route. Weʼd decided on our riding order (to try and give some drafting benefit to the taller riders) and decided on a steadyish start to avoid the debacle that had occurred on our practice run some weeks earlier.
The race itself went great. We rode smoothly and shared the work all the way and were happy with our performance. It was fairly straight forward with the exception of some mechanical issues for Tom (not me this time!!). Shortly after the start he hit a pothole and his handlebars rotated downwards.
Luckily, this didnʼt prevent him putting in a great shift. A tough headwind section down the dead straight King Street, saw us shortening our turns as the race progressed, with some benefit.
Indeed, after the race we decided that we would adopt a shorter turn strategy for our next event, the Warrington Road club 4 up 25 mile time trial in just 4 days. We finished with what I thought was a solid time of 1:05:23. We beat some good teams and were right in the mix just behind the top few teams.
Team Ribble did an outstanding ride to win beating their nearest rivals by almost 4 minutes!
Boosted by our efforts, and knowing we had the ability to push harder and go faster, we were looking forward to the Warrington 4up where we would be joined by Tony Greenhalgh. Tony is no stranger to team time trials and had been my partner for our win at the Blackburn CTC event earlier in the year so I knew heʼd slot in well! Roll on Thursday evening and the weather had improved.
There was a bit of wind to contend with though. For this event weʼd mustered up 2 teams. Also riding was Posh Pete, Kris, Joe and Alex. In keeping with Chronomaster tradition, despite a fair amount of enthusiasm for the event, we nearly missed it when the slightly early closing date caught us by surprise. Fortunately, the understanding organiser accepted our entries 😁 .
The Warrington Road club 4 up is an event Iʼve always enjoyed. There arenʼt many of this type of event (unfortunately 😞 ) so I reckon lots of other teams look forward to it for the same reason. It has become a great fixture on the local time trial scene. Both teams were off fairly close together and we all left the HQ at the same time.
Looking back I could see all our riders, all riding TT bikes and with matching kit. It looked fantastic and for a moment I reflected on how marvellous it would be to do a grand tour style, 8 man TTT.
Alas, it was only 4 riders this time and we would be covering some two laps of a course around Goostrey, Jodrell Bank and knutsford. As we lined up for the start we all knew the script and we headed off at a blistering pace. We werenʼt dropping below 30mph and the effort required to get onto the back of the line after doing a turn was considerable! Luckily, sitting in man 2 and 3 positions offered some respite before getting back on the front!
We were unlucky to be held up at most junctions and, as the race progressed, this caused some raggedness to We were unlucky to be held up at most junctions and, as the race progressed, this caused some raggedness to creep into our previously well executed rhythm. This coupled with some fatigue meant that the second lap was less smooth but we kept the pressure on nonetheless!
We finished with a time of 51:16. Faster than previous years and a pleasing time but with a slight feeling that we could have gone a tad quicker had we been luckier with traffic. We just had to hope we had done enough to be in the mix and, more importantly, beat the other Chronomaster team!
Kris, Joe, Alex and Pete finished shortly after us. They were also pleased with their efforts. Relative newcomers to team time trialling, Kris, Joe and Alex, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. My Chronomaster team mates finally beginning to see why Craig and I are always trying to push our riders to do these events!
As we got back to the HQ to check the results I could see our other team had recorded a time of 53:03. A great ride! Our teams had managed to finish 1st and 2nd on the night! This truly represented unchartered waters for the team. Not only had we managed to cobble together 2 teams, theyʼd all turned up on the night and there were no mechanicals.
Although back riding, team time trial regular and enthusiast, Craig wasnʼt quite ready to race this year. Heʼs already looking forward to riding next year but this will depend on whether Joe honours his amazing generosity and returns his TT bike. He was quite taken with it…
Many thanks to Warrington Road Club for organising a very successful event on a great course.