A Float Day for Time Trials

Saturday involved two quite different time trials for me. First up was watching Bradley Wiggins power his way around Chartres, south of France; averaging 50 Kmph for the 53Km course; it was a show of power and convincingly demonstrated why Wiggins was a deserving wearer of the yellow jersey. It was a fitting finale to three weeks of great effort.

After watching Wiggins – barring accidents – win the tour, I was off to a village hall near Ashton Keynes for a very different kind of time trial – West DC 25 mile TT. Just a few minor differences:

  • - 150,000 spectators and world’s media
  • + 2,000 cars passing the riders during the race
  • - directions on the course of where to go.
  • - prize money of  £300,000+
  • + prize money from sponsors Drag2Zero.com, BikeScience.com and LeisureLake Bikes.com

On the positive side, I didn’t have to answer questions in French after the race about whether I thought my fifth place was undervalued by the absence of Alberto Contandor serving a doping ban.

Very different, but also essentially the same. A race against the clock. That’s the beauty of cycling. This was 25 miles (40Km) against the clock. The course was the U46/c on the A419 Cirencester bypass. It is a fast course with nice smooth, flat roads, also passing traffic gives an extra boost. Because it is a freeway, the police don’t allow signs to be put on the road.

After, going off course last week (even with a marshall and sign pointing in right direction) I was understandably nervous of repeating my mistake. I spent a considerable time before race memorising the correct turn offs. ‘First lap, turn off to Burford, then at Cricklade, 2nd lap at Cirencester industrial Estate. then come off again at Cricklade.’

I bet Wiggins didn’t have to memorise French road numbers whilst riding his heart out.

After a difficult season of wind, cold, rain, snow, it was unexpectedly a relief to see benign conditions for a change. Barely a breath of wind, warm, dry, clear skies. It was what, in time trial parlance, we call a ‘float day’. The general consensus was that it couldn’t have been any better. At the start a good old rider Gerry enthusiastically announced, ‘it’s fast out there’ I was still trying to memorise roundabouts, but it added to the air of expectation.

After a few hard weeks training in Yorkshire, the past week was a lighter training load. I had my eye on a fast 25 time for the year. Also, after a lot of hill work, it is good to have an easier week to let the legs fully recover.

In anticipation of race, I made some last minute adjustments, removing a spare water bottle and making bike as aero as possible. Unfortunately, in my pre-race preparations I hadn’t charged by Garmin, which was a bit of a pain because miles on the clock would have made it easier to know which exit to turn off. At the start it was down to 2% power, which meant I had about 5 minutes of seeing my speed in excess of 30mph. It felt fast, and it was fast.

I have mixed feelings about races on dual carriageways. I wouldn’t mind if all time trials were moved to sporting courses, but I still end up racing the odd dual carriageway drag strip. And with a slight feeling of guilt, I really enjoy it. It’s exhilarating cycling consistently at 30mph for 50 minutes.  I should thank the volunteers of West DC for putting the excellent race on. It’s not easy putting races on this course. As a race-organiser, I can imagine it could be quite stressful at times.

With no speedometer or time, I had no ability to judge my pace, but I never felt the speed go low. I was consistently in a high gear. At 20 miles, I came back on road from last turn off and saw no.70 Jeff Jones just ahead of me. He was travelling slightly faster than me, and he slowly accelerated into the distance. However, having his disappearing figure to chase was a good way of getting most out of the last five miles.

Back at the Ashton Keynes cricket pavilion, I was pleased to have done a rare 30mph plus ride. My time of 49.49 was my second ever fastest 25 mile – and the fastest outside the ‘cheating’ Welsh course – which is fast dual carriageway and plus starts at the top of the hill. Though conditions were so good on the U47/c I think it would have been faster than the Welsh course on many windy days.

It was an average speed of over 30mph. An average speed similar to Chris Froome who finished 2nd in that other time trial, 100 miles south of Paris.

That sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. The passing traffic must add 1-2mph on to our speed (and we don’t have 3,000Km in the legs). I don’t know what time Wiggins would have done on that course, but you would have to speculate a low 45 minute (national record is 45.54) There were another 4 riders under the magic 50 miles, with Jeff Jones (Drag2Zero) and Ben Anstie (Cadence RT) doing 48 minute rides.

Jeff Jones 48-42
Ben Anstie 48-45
Rob Pears 49-23
John Wynn 49-46
Tevjan Pettinger 49-49

Anyway a lot of happy faces on the day. Good weather and fast times, that usually makes time-triallists happy.

Back to the big time trial of the day, a marvellous achievement for Wiggins. It’s not often you see cycling on page 1, page 4, page 5 plus the sports pages, plus the Olympic supplement of major newspapers.

I wonder whether the other major time trial of the day (West DC 25 miles) will make the sports classifieds on page 36 of the Ashton Keynes Chronicle?

On a final note, I’d just like to say that the 5th place in West DC, will not change me as a person. I’ve never believed in this celebrity culture of Great Britain, I’ll still be shovelling horse manure and taking my whippet down the mine tomorrow morning.

After Wiggins’ win.

“I’m determined to not let it change me,” Wiggins  said. “I’m not into celebrity life or all that rubbish. So much of British culture is built around people who are famous for doing nothing… I’m still Bradley Wiggins, at the end of the day, I have to go home and clean up dog muck and horse muck. At the end of the day, it’s just sport, there will be more Tour winners in the future.” – Wiggins interview



Top bloke Wiggins. Particular like his explanation his RAF circle on his helmet is a tribute to French king of the mountains, Tommy Voeckler. The French press loved that. Good job because they might have to get used to Wiggins / Team Sky dominating the Tour de France. I wouldn’t  be surprised if 2013 has slightly less flat time trials. Shame really, they should come and use the A419 – they’d get mental times.




2 Responses to A Float Day for Time Trials

  1. tejvan July 25, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Yes, but I enjoyed reading your account of getting dropped in a road race in deepest Wales.

  2. pj July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    there were 33 PBs set on Saturday at the u46. i’d say that’s a float day. unfortunately for me i was getting dropped in a road race in deepest Wales.

    Well done on a super fast time.

Leave a Reply

+ 4 = 10