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Friday, 12 July 2013

V718. 'Debacle' - a suitably Gallic TdF type description...

  That was quite possibly the most….

   ….stressful lead up to a time trial I’ve ever experienced (and that’s saying something!).

  Before all that though, I had quite a surprising ride at my local Somerleyton 10 course a few days before where I blitzed around the course a minute quicker than I’d ever done before. I think the wind direction was pretty much perfect with the leg from Somerleyton to Blundeston being monstrously quick, so slightly flattering perhaps but a shock nonetheless!

22:52. Blimey!

  The only slightly portentous thing worth noting was a very high HR when flat out – nudging up towards 180 which is not normal at all. I’d had a niggly headache the last couple of days and I now was fairly certain I was fighting some sort of lurgy. I spent the next couple of days taking it really easy and caning the vitamin C to give myself a fighting chance of shifting it before the ‘Big One’ in Hull in 5 days time….

  I’d entered a ‘Slowest 90’ event on the legendary V718 about 3 weeks previously, never imagining for one moment I’d get in. My thinking was, “well, it’s a mid-week evening event so no problem getting off work, got a bit of form, it’s worth the price of a stamp, you never know…”
  As it happens, I didn’t get in – ‘too fast’ (love saying that!) but would I like to be 10th reserve, asked the organizer.
  What the hell. I said yes.
  As the event approached there were more and more riders went DNS and my chances of getting a ride improved slightly. My ‘Go / No Go’ decision point was that if there were just 5 reserves left the evening before, I’d chance the 360 mile round trip. Seven riders eventually dropped out leaving three, including me, to place. Excellent!!
  That was the easy bit however…
  On the morning before race day, me & the doggies bundled into the car for an early morning walkies before work. Turn the ignition key and…. Sod all. Battery flat as a fart. Eh? I hadn’t left anything switched on overnight. Strange…
  Hmmm… Hang on though; it had been a bit sluggish to start the last few days. Virtually brand new battery too….
  The multimeter revealed popped diodes in the alternator. ARSE!  I’d got to be at work in a bit and was going to struggle to find time to fix it before the drive to Hull tomorrow. Arse, arse, arse….
  The poor doggies had to settle for a quick walkies round the block and I cycled off to work in a huge strop.  Fortunately, I managed to sneak out of work a couple of hours early and headed down to Rotating Electrics in Yarmouth, arriving just minutes before they shut for the day.
  “I think we’ve got those…” said the beardy man, “…somewhere. Bear with me mate…”
  After much rummaging the beardy man reappeared with a diode pack and regulator. Get in!!
  “Call it 25 quid mate. Alright?”
  Spot on!!
  An evening spent dismantling the alternator and a spot of soldering the new bits in soon saw the old car purring again. Phew, wasn’t panicking there at all…..

  Gorgeous day in prospect the next morning. Warm & useful SE wind forecast for the V718 that evening – tailwind on the longer home leg. Car fixed, bike equipped with its latest gadget – a proper Zipp 950 disc – everything looking good.
  Except I didn’t feel 100%. Bloody typical, my cold had landed properly overnight. I wasn’t visibly ill but had a weird feeling in my muscles and the slightest hint of a sore throat.  I still felt ‘up for it’ though and didn’t feel ‘ill’, I’d perhaps just be missing a bit of zing, that’s all….
  To be honest, I’d have signed on with one leg hanging off if there was the remotest chance of getting under 21 mins, so I set off regardless. As it turned out, it was the least of my worries….

Grrr... Trigger looking awesome.

  I got there really early and whiled away the time by cycling out to a bridge over the A63 to suss the conditions out. I began to worry a bit more about my health at this point – I’d got that horrible stingy tetanised feeling in my legs which I couldn’t spin off. It was still there warming up on the turbo later. Arse…
  The good news was that the wind was indeed in the perfect direction and at a nice strength of 5-6 knots ish. Shed loads of traffic too, seriously scary – okay, it was still 17:00 and rush hour but it was bound to drop in the next 2 hours… although not too much hopefully….

  Back at the HQ, I signed on at about 18:00 and set the turbo up. I spent the next 90 mins doing 10 mins on the turbo, then popping in to see if anyone had DNS’d.  One rider did and the other reserve took that spot. One more reserve to go, then it was me! First prospect was no. 28 – no signature on the form with about 30 mins to his start time and the other reserve got ready to go… only to have his hopes dashed when the rider turned up at the last minute.
  Two more gaps on the signing on sheet looked promising about 20 mins later…. But they too turned up very late. It was starting to look very bleak and my heart began to sink…
  There was another spot, no. 64, who still hadn’t arrived – this was looking like the last chance saloon and there was still a rider ahead of me in the queue. I began packing the car up…

  To my great surprise, the other reserve rider, Dave, came over to me and introduced himself.
  “Ello mate.. Look, Norfolk is a long way to come and I literally live 300 yards away from the start, I can ride this course whenever I want. You have my spot.”
  I was genuinely touched and couldn’t thank the guy enough. What a fantastic sporting gesture.

  The HQ was pretty much deserted now and I sat on the turbo in the car park by myself, waiting nervously. The organiser’s 30 minute pre-start signing on deadline was nearly up and no. 64 still hadn’t arrived… Fingers crossed…
  Imagine my despair when a bloke appeared at running full speed into the HQ and ran straight back out again clutching his race number. Shit.
  “I’m so sorry,” said the signing on marshal, “that’s it, everyone has signed on now.”
  I was devastated. I rang home and told my wife Sue the news.
  “Why don’t you ride up to the start and wait,” she offered calmly. "You never know, someone might puncture on the way and not start. You could have their slot.”
  That felt like a really cheeky thing to do but she did have a point. It’s a good 3 or 4 miles to the start and anything could happen. I put my t-shirt on over my skinsuit to hide my race number and set off.
  I got there with about 35 riders left to start. I was aware that I was in danger of making a bit of a nuisance of myself but it was within the rules so I explained my predicament to a marshal and he said I was more than welcome to hang around for a slot.
  With 10 riders to go, there were 11 riders at the start including me. Bugger.
  “Hang on mate,” said the starter, “Don’t go yet.”
  I honestly thought he was just going to ask me to take something back to the HQ for him!
  “We’ve had a chat,” he continued, “If the light is still okay, we can set you off at number 91. That be alright?”
  He explained that, on paper at least, I was the fastest rider there and that I’d be finished when a couple of the riders off just ahead of me would still be on the course, so I wouldn’t be causing the event to overrun. I suppose it must have been within the rules to do it but I still felt slightly guilty.
 Not for long though!!!
  Well, at twenty-nine minutes to nine in the evening I was f-i-n-a-l-l-y getting my 2013 ride on the V718. The wind had reversed into a headwind on the long leg home, there was no traffic and I’d been sitting around for half an hour and was stone cold. I’d got a headache and my legs felt like shite. Ahhh, stop bloody whinging you wimp and f**king smash it!!!

 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Go!

  4.6 miles to the turn in 9 mins 30 secs with absolutely no power in my legs. Riding up the slip road at the turn felt like climbing Mt Ventoux. All was definitely not well in the Engine Room...
  I caught no. 90 just after the turn, caught another couple on the leg home and found myself at 8 miles with 17 minutes elapsed. 30+ mph average required, into wind, plus there was a niggly drag here somewhere that I remembered from last year. Thing is, I was already cooked and I couldn’t have possibly found any more speed.
  A timely squadron of cars came past (at bloody last!) and sucked me up to 32mph for a while, improving my chances. But than a desperately long stint at 28mph ruined it. God, this was going to be close… Again!
  Chequered flag waving in the breeze ahead…  20:47… 20:48…  tick, tick, tick…  NO, NO, NO! The time flicked to 21:00 just feet before the line.

"Arseshitfuckbollocksbuggerybaaaastaaaaard! Aaaarrrggghhhhh!!"

 21:02 for 4th place.

  I suppose the positives are pretty obvious:

  • Felt a bit under the weather
  • Rode in the worst possible conditions*. The first half of the field virtually all rode massive PB’s.
  • So much stress and chaos. I’m not a big fan of ‘spontaneous’, just ask my wife.
  • But, not to be forgotten in all the drama – It’s a PB by a whopping 2 seconds!!

*Okay, ‘worst’ is a relative term in this instance. It wasn’t ‘awful’ by any means!!

  I’ve got one more chance to get under 21 mins this season on the F11/10 next weds. It’s another long drive but hopefully my legs might be working slightly better by then.
  Before then, I’ve got another opportunity to update the 25 PB on the E2/25 on Saturday. Again, looks like it could be another fast day, it just depends on my legs. I feel pretty good this morning (Friday) so hopefully I might go okay…


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