Racing Chance Foundation Cheshire Points Series 25-mile TT, 14 Sept 2019

On Saturday I travelled to Cheshire to take part in my first 25-mile TT; the weather a warm but comfortable temperature with some breeze. The course is a lap and a half of a lumpy and scenic circuit, and the TT would draw my racing season to a close as well as be a new experience. The TT would also be my 50th ever time trial, a landmark that seemed far away when I did my first ever TT 5 years ago.

Having asked Tim for advice regarding heart rate data for different stages of the TT so as to pace myself appropriately, I was keen in the first 2 miles to the roundabout to find a fast but sustainable pace and ride into the event – a concept that is very difficult in a 10-mile event. I noticed myself relax into my position and rhythm on the bike and realised an immediate new enjoyment riding longer TTs.

After the first turn I increased my effort slightly to build pace as I aimed to put in a strong first 10-mile sector. Approaching the first left turn, setting a brilliant pace, I could see a car pulling into the junction where I needed to turn - I lost time as the car stopped in front of me! Frustrated but with the TT still in its infancy, I bedded back into the position and returned to my pace. Turning left again to exit the country lane onto the smooth asphalt of the A50 section, I was relieved the turn went to plan and enjoyed the new fast section. Soon afterwards, I saw a tractor crawling along ahead and knew it would only be seconds before I caught it. The course dipping slightly downhill, I wanted to hammer this section but with the road ducking and diving around bends, I was stuck behind the tractor, veering right to look round it, only to see cars flying along the other way. On the straights, the tractor would slow down and with a convoy still coming the other way on the single-carriageway road, anger and annoyance was building. In disbelief at the driver’s disregard of the road situation going on around him: myself trying to pass, rider number 12 who I had passed heading up behind me again and a car and caravan attempting to overtake everybody. It felt like I was behind it forever, but it was around half a mile and eventually we reached a stretch of road where I could overtake it. Wanting to drive deeper to compensate for the delays, I was cautious not to let frustration push me too far into the red too early in a long event. Powering on, I passed number 15 who had passed me after the delay at the junction and I forged on to pass number 13 too.

Another left turn brought the race onto another country lane, which although dimpled with potholes in parts was relatively traffic free and taking a clear path through the asphalt it was possible to maintain a nice pace despite the headwind in this section. Joining the main road again, the rolling course back towards the roundabout was a joy and lent itself to high speeds, especially benefitting from the gradual downhill sections. The miles seemed to fly by, and I was still feeling strong. With 5 miles remaining, my whole body was starting to feel the effort, my arms and back rattling and I tried to push deeper for the last few miles. Desperately clinging to the speed, the distance seemed to drag on as the perceived effort had surged to off the scale – if the previous few miles had been 9-10 out of 10, it was heading north of 12 in my opinion at this point! With two miles to go, I felt finished, and with the finish line in sight, I was gritting my teeth and willing the race to be over.

Crossing the line, I was relieved. Making my way back to the HQ, my whole body was screaming, sitting up on the bike felt bizarre, so I settled back into the TT position as it seemed the only position my body could adopt.

On seeing my time, I was dead chuffed, beating my estimate for the day. I felt I had measured my effort very well for a first attempt and knowing I felt comfortable in the pace for the first part, I was incredibly happy I had mastered my target time without hitting my limit early and hanging on at full gun for the whole event. There were stretches of the course where I was achieving split times faster than my regular 10-milers but feeling like I was sailing along. Thank you to Tim for helping me to push my limits and massively improve my performances this season and for guiding me with my first 25-mile. I look forward to taking on more 25-mile events and will aim to beat my time in my next event.

Julia Wardley-Kershaw

Tim PhillipsTT