Winging a TT

‘How to accidentally end up racing, when the plan was to just partake’
21 September 2017
By: Michelle Mortimer (aka Morts)

Time trialing is an especially painful, yet satisfying part of racing. You get to push your body to the absolute limit. When you think there is nothing left to give, that is when you empty the tank crossing the line knowing that you gave it all you had. You can learn an awful lot about yourself when it’s just you and your bike fighting the clock. #Welcometothepaincave!

So why then, after a few months of semi training, did I think it was a perfectly good idea to ‘wing it’Γ‚ in a recent club race. The race consisted of 3 stages: Time Trial, Hill Climb and a Road Race. This is the story of my Time Trial.

The truth… I love a good TT and wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to ‘Go Play’. The night before I dutifully gave my trusty steed the once over. Made sure he was all shiny and ready to go. Not going to bother with tri-bars, just taking part after all. Put on my new tyres, checked I can find all my kit and then off to bed for an early night. Must be up bright eyed and bushy tailed to ‘Wing it’ in the morning.

Race day:

Wake up, after a fitful night dreaming I’d forgotten how to clip in and nightmares of falling over at the start. Not a problem though, these are just usual pre-race jitters. Get dressed and giggle a little at the fact that I’m not quite in the shape I was a mere 4 months back, but mercifully all the kit still fits. Pack up the car and I’m off. Yes, I drove the 5km to the race. Wasn’t going to waste any much-needed energy at this point.

Upon arriving, I sit in the car for a while and once again contemplate how woefully unprepared I am for what I am about to do. I resign myself to the fact that this will in no way be a PB, I am here to partake and have fun. Best I get out the car though, people are starting to stare.

Ok, so I’m here, I’m dressed… all the butterflies in my stomach take flight and flatly refuse to fly in formation. That is ok, I’ll just go warm up. Everything will settle once I’ve warmed up. Just start peddling!

A whopping 2min, roughly 300m into my warmup “You got this!” quickly changes to “Goodness me, what was I thinking, I’m going to die!”. I swiftly remind myself once more not to panic, I’m just taking part, it’s all in the fun. I roll back down to the starting area and take my place in the queue. No turning back now.

Then before I know it, I’m up. I’m told to clip in while a gentleman graciously tries to hold me upright. I have a brief flashback to last night’s nightmare about falling over, say a little prayer, and before I know it I’m all set. Quick check down at my gearing, mercifully I had remembered to select the correct gear. Give myself a silent pat on the back for that.

“10sec to go!” With that I notice my heartrate jump 10 beats on the computer, interesting I think to myself. I thank the lovely people for their assistance, someone yells, “GO!” and I launch off the starting blocks like Bolt winding up for the 100m. I take a moment to marvel at the sheer power and responsiveness in these somewhat horribly under-prepared legs. Happy Days, race on!

At this point, I have to mention, I have completely forgotten that I had intended to just partake. The little switch in your head that uses reason and good judgement is completely turned off. Muscle memory kicks in at this point. The legs vaguely remember the exhilaration of race mode and want to head straight for the sweet spot. The Heartrate obliges and heads towards the red line that it remembers from a few months back… Let’s see how long this lasts.

The first part of the race, being downhill, lulls one into a false sense of security. I remind myself of this at the 5km mark while doing a self-assessment. Legs – hurting but good, heart rate – sustainable, time – quick maths, I think I’m ahead of my PB. Internal high 5, I’ve got this.

7Km: Things start to change. There is an uphill and my legs are reminding me they don’t like being pushed like this. I politely tell them to please shut up, I am trying to race here. They oblige, for the moment, anyway.

10Km: Turn around, has the road always been this narrow? Knowing I turn like the Titanic, but with less grace, I shed speed fast and unclip one side just in case I need an emergency exit strategy. Shoo, made it. Turn safely negotiated I look up and notice I have to accelerate up a hill. Not a strength of mine, but thankfully the legs are still holding.

12K: I love this part of the road. Slight breeze at my back, I’m back into the drops and flying like I’ve never flown before. I remind myself that there is a rather long gentle climb coming and I need to leave a little something for that.

15km: It took longer than I thought it would but I am finally caught by the gent that started behind me. Things are really starting to hurt now. Time to dig deep, more simple math… might not PB but can get close to it.

18km: Time to empty the take? No, not quite yet. If I start now, I’m pretty sure I might not make the finish line. Little switch in head with strong sense of self-preservation kicking back in.

19km: It’s time, time to empty what little is left in the tank. Crank to the biggest gear I can and push like I’ve never pushed before. I can see the flag, just a little further. Oh look, a new max Heartrate PB, “Woohoo!”. No time to celebrate though. The line just won’t come, it is toying with my now fragile emotions. I keep yelling at my legs to hold the pace. Legs keep yelling back that I am insane and they will punish me for days to come. Eyes starting to lose focus ever so slightly as much needed blood is redirected to legs. Drool, sweat, snot, pain and sucking in air like my life depends on it. These are the only things I know at this point. The outside world does not exist at this moment.

20km: The Finish! It is done! I am done! My legs give out a sigh of relief as they are allowed to give up on the relentless pace I demanded of them. They have done their job and done it well. Only a few seconds short of PB, not bad for winging it I think. Endorphins kick in, the world is a beautiful place once more. Jubilation all round.

Race done, I fast realize that the blood that was redirected to my aching legs needs a little time to re-distribute to the other parts of my body. Off I go for a short warm down to spin it out. Time to contemplate whether or not I have the ability to unclip, let alone dismount with any form of grace and elegance. I roll to a secluded part of the road, away from the rest of the athletic machines, to attempt this. Success, I’ve made it off the bike!

I promptly remind myself racing season is fast approaching and winging every race is not the best plan. This was the wakeup call I need, to get my A back into G. I saunter off into the morning light, much like John Wayne after a long day in the saddle. My trusty steed by my side. 2 races left to ‘Wing it’ for the day, but for now… Food! All in all, a rather successful morning on the bike.

Happiness is a girl, her bike and a fun morning playing TT!