Bear with me… Back in the day, probably around the time of the Playstation 2, I was fleetingly hooked on the driving game Gran Turismo (now a movie, so I hear). But I never had a very cool setup with the pedals and steering wheel, and I wasn’t skilled enough to do a really good job of driving the cars on the standard controller.
So, my approach to winning the races necessary to progress through the game was to earn sufficient in-game credits to upgrade my car to the point that nothing else I was racing could possibly compete with my equipment – new engine, new turbo, new tyres, new suspension; you name it, I upgraded it. Eventually, the capabilities of the car outweighed my lack of skill and I’d win enough races to progress to the next level. And then it would start again.
What’s that got to with cycling time trials?
Sometimes my approach to going fast on two wheels feels all too familiar.
I don’t have the best power, nor the best watts-per-kilogram figures. I don’t have the time to do super long-distance rides to really build the aerobic engine. I’m not really “cyclist shaped”.
So, I game the system. I’ve spent time and money getting my position as good as my body will allow. I’ve played with cockpit setups that allow me to reduce the frontal area of my bulky frame. I’ve researched and fitted the best wheels I can find. I’ve reduced every last micro-watt of friction with ceramic and waxed everything.
All of this means a very average rider (me) is ultimately capable of going quite fast on the right day.
Of course, it’s completely unfair. All of the kit and testing costs money. A lot of it. And not everyone can afford to splash thousands of pounds or dollars on fancy kit (and some folks prove time and time again that all the money in the world doesn’t guarantee success – either by having the most flashy kit and still struggling to get under 21 minutes for a 10-mile TT, or the complete opposite and being able to push out 18-minute 10-milers on wheels and frames that look like they’re from the ‘90s!).
And, the “right day” is also very subjective. For me, the right day seems to be one where it’s moderately warm (low 20s) and still (winds less than 8mph, regardless of direction). When it’s too cold, too hot or too windy, I just don’t seem to do very well compared to others around me.
Maybe I am just a Goldilocks kinda rider.
But it seems notable that I’ve PB’d (or PR’d if you’re American) almost every local course I’ve ridden this year, but so far have failed (quite miserably) to improve my 10-mile overall TT record on some of the fastest courses in the country (I got very close on P881/10, but was way off on F11/10 and F2a/10).
I you believe such things, Spindata suggests that my run this year on P881 (only managed the one run on that course this year, usually get several!) was a good day (-1.6 float – the day a new course record was set by Paul Burton) while both efforts on F11/10 (+1.3 Float) and F2a/10 (+1.3 float) weren’t in the best of conditions.
I’ve got one more chance on F11/10 (hopefully), but having been rejected for the last P811 race of the season, that’s it for that one.I see one more race on F2a/10 but at over 200 miles for the round trip, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort (or cost) for another potentially poor day.