Wigan Wheelers 10m TT, 17 August 2019

I felt fresh for the TT as I bring my time trial season to a close. I was relaxed, looking forward to my fourth shot this year at the Levens course, this time organised by the Wigan Wheelers, who brought an upbeat and friendly atmosphere to the greying skies and drizzle veiling the course. Arriving bright and early, we checked the course again to ensure there were no new hazards.

Riding to the start line, the rain spell had blown over yet the wind that had cleared it was already jostling with the front wheel of my bike. Darting off from the start, I quickly huddled into my new TT position from my recent bike fit and starting making headway into the billowing wind. The first mile was quite swift despite the conditions but as the road flattened from the initial downhill, the constant rush of wind swirled past, the sound a relentless whoosh in my ears. I battled forward, maintaining a hard effort despite the increasing difficulty of the headwind. The speed started to plummet with a mile to go until the roundabout, with riders visibly stalling in fierce gusts of up to 30mph.

Approaching the roundabout, a procession of cars dawdling in the outside lane made a challenge out of changing lane to navigate the roundabout. Slowing down for a gap in the traffic, stranded over to the left-hand side of the road, my pace was pretty pedestrian at the point a courteous driver stopped to let me in the line and I entered the roundabout successfully, relieved. With the meagre speed of the last mile before the roundabout, I knew it would need a miracle, let alone a tailwind, to bring the speed up on the way back.

On a mission, all focus on the 5-mile sprint to the finish, determination and the tailwind had me hurtling along at 30 mph at times, rocketing along, holding on to smash the second half. All plan and strategy flung out of the window, it was a case of salvaging as much time as possible after the outward leg. Flying into the final couple of miles, I realised I had closed the gap on my average speed to the extent I was on to pull off one of my fastest TTs of the year. The road sweeping right brought the wind in sideways and the final mile was a wrestling match again with the conditions, but now so close to the finale, I pushed hard, refusing to let my advantage go. Gasping as I headed into the slip road towards the finish, I noticed my time was quicker than I had expected. In cold, blustery conditions, I returned to HQ, to see my time to be 26:12, my second fastest TT ever, only 17 seconds off my PB and smashing my fastest effort from last season – I couldn’t believe it!

Julia Wardley-Kershaw

Tim PhillipsTT