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Not the start I was hoping for...

Bank Holiday Monday (April 5th) is a firm fixture on the UK time trialing calendar. Well, it wasn't last year, for obvious reasons, but it was good to have it back for 2021. In my case, it was the first TT of the year and on a 'new' course - H25/1a.

It's not really 'new', more a modification of the existing H25/1 25-mile course with a slightly different start, turn and finish point (I suspect the modification was made due to the local council deciding to put safety 'orca' bollards on part of the course - a classic example of good intentions actually making life more dangerous for cyclists).

With the balmy temperatures of just a few days earlier replaced by an arctic chill and a strong NNW wind (the course is basically W>E>W>E), it was never going to be a 'float day'. To make matters worse, my daughter had brought home a bug (not that bug) from nursery a week ago and I was still not feeling 100%.

Still, 32 brave souls met up, collected numbers and changed into ridiculously under-insulated skin suits.

Starting the season with a 25-mile TT rarely goes well for me. Whatever I tell myself, I always go off too hard and within five miles have the horrendous realization that I still have another 20 miles to go (not the five my brain thinks or wants). Add that to the fact that even hitting 40kph in the crosswinds was harder than I would have liked and it made for both slow and frustrating progress (let's not talk about the extra 2kg from winter I'm still carrying).

I normally ride an old-school deep (85/86mm ish) front wheel but, owing to the crosswinds, this time I elected to ride my Parcours Passista front rim (usually reserved for road bikes and training rides) with its 'skinny' 56mm rim depth and distinctly 'hard wearing' (aka 'not fast') Michelin tubeless tyre. It was probably a good move, but I can't help thinking it also cost me a few seconds on the road.

Still not feeling great from the cold (man flu...), I was struggling to hit the power numbers I wanted, so instead played it conservatively, mindful that this was only race number one and there are plenty to come. So I settled in at about 90% of my normal target FTP and just kept plugging away (I only realized after the race how low my average cadence was, something I need to be mindful of in upcoming outings).

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 57:44. Comfortably my slowest 25-mile TT for something like three years! It was good enough for fifth solo rider, but I can't help feeling disappointed. It's definitely given me a kick up the backside and made me more determined to leave nothing out on course at this Sunday's VTTA 15-mile championships (yeah, I know, 15 miles, it's like they made it up just to have another champs...).

On the plus side, my head position looks pretty good in the photos (thanks to the photographers that braved the cold!), even if I have spotted that my left knee has a tendency to flare at the top of the pedal stroke (need to be mindful of that, too). I'm still waiting to get the new Drag2Zero extension poles fitted too, so hopefully they will bring a small aero advantage as well.

The man flu is abating and I have another 'warm up' 10-mile TT on a familiar course this evening. The season is truly underway!


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