The joy of a 50-mile TT

Club member Lee Heron, was another rider out at the weekend riding in a longer than normal TT distance.  Lee made the trip across to Cambridge on Sunday to ride in the VTTA East Anglian Group Championship 50-mile TT.

Here Lee gives an amusing account of his day out. Unfortunately, we have no photos to record the occasion, but maybe we can picture what he probably looked like from what he endured.

The traditional F2/50 course was altered thanks to pop-up traffic lights. The ‘gift hill’ was removed with the start moving back by 0.5 miles. This also meant the finish line moving back by 0.5 miles adding what’s known in Cambridge as a hill. At the end of the 50, this felt like a mountain…

Conditions were pretty much perfect, but maybe on the hot side towards the end of the race. Wind was picking up throughout the morning on the outward direction or was it simply the fact that legs were giving up.

This was my first 50-mile TT of the season and an opportunity to finally race a fast course, with little wind… Expectations of beating my 50-mile PB were high, but tempered by having the second ‘jab’ the day before. COVID vaccine symptoms presented themselves, so the BSCC Team Doctor was consulted. Performance enhancing paracetamol was delivered on Saturday evening in a brown jiffy bag. Tablets were washed down by Thatchers Gold, as prescribed, so I was ready to race on Sunday morning.

A fairly early start on Sunday with a glorious drive down the M1, admiring the roadworks, towards Cambridge. Sunroof fully open with the wind whistling through both of my hairs and early 90’s dance classics on the radio. All this helping to get me in the ‘zone’. As I approached Cambridge the race was already under way with many TTists already cluttering up the A428, making a real nuisance of themselves. They don’t even pay road tax you know! Upon arrival it was clear that this was a popular event as the car parking around the HQ was already full. Ingenuity was required to find suitable parking and an appropriate place to don my skinsuit so I found a random location to park in a nearby residential area. Let’s hope the locals did not mind the ‘strange’ behaviour and semi-nudity exhibited by this particular cyclist.

All signed on, extra stretched club colours on display (yes it was a good week’s holiday) and I was ready to head out for the warm up. In reality, there was no need to warm up. What was required was shelter out of the sun, prior to venturing out onto the roads. While taking such shelter and entering into cycling related small talk with a marshal (yes I did pass on his thanks for the marshal giving up his time) another TTist approached and asked the marshal if he had a phone. The first accident of the day befell a racer who hadn’t even made the start line. DNS, ambulance required!

Start time approached, race began – now for the fun bit… With a circa two-hour race it was all about pacing and keeping an eye on my heart rate. Targets were in my mind for both, but towards the end of the ride it was clear that maybe I’d overcooked the first 25 miles. With the course being effectively 4 laps, lap 3 and 4 showed steady declines in pace. Fuelling and hydration were fine so pacing must have been the reason for this. Maybe the temperature and an increase in headwind on the out leg played their part too.

At the end of lap 3 the only other bit of drama presented itself. A rider was down on the roundabout at the bottom of the course. He looked conscious as he was propped against a lamp post. At the end of lap 4, the ambulance was in attendance. Again, fingers crossed for a speedy recovery and we all hope his bike was OK. We can only guess what the reason was for his accident, but it does come as a reminder that our sport can be dangerous. Take care follow TTists…

My finishing time was approximately 1:57:10 (un-official) beating my previous PB of 2:01:31. I had hoped to go quicker, but was satisfied with the improvement.

After some considerable Strava data analysis on Sunday evening, I concluded that a disc wheel, aero suit and probably a new bike would benefit my performance. I remain determined to avoid any significant and meaningful training however.