The Race of Truth


SW Rouleurs held an inaugural/ annual (I’m not sure which but a first for me in any case) 10 mile time trial in July but which I’m only writing about now because I’ve just seen some photographs.

From my vantage point slap in the middle of the results table I can safely say that sport was the winner in the magnificent surroundings of the Olympic Park as we took over the Lee Valley Velopark road race circuit that is quite literally in the shadow of the awe inspiring Olympic Velodrome – a venue that I’m riding later this month as I attempt to wobble around in circles on a bike with no brakes.

On a beautiful, sunny, but disturbingly windy, evening the cream of the SW Rouleurs (or at least those that weren’t on holiday) gathered after work to slug it out over 10 miles of velvety smooth tarmac. Smooth it may be but the road racing circuit here is anything but flat and round and much to my surprise undulates and swoops all over the place and even contains a short section where you most definitely need to get out of the saddle (only to be met by a strong headwind as you round the corner at the top). A couple of sighting laps revealed that this was anything but a ‘ride in the park’. Any pre-conceptions I had about a long flat steady state sort of ride were immediately banished – scarcely any of the course was either flat or straight!

Military style logistics then took over as walkie talkies, stop watches, loud hailers, pens and paper all appeared from the bottomless rucksack of our fearless leader and captain. Splitting into two groups was required in order to be able to staff all the jobs required that included lap counter, stop watch readers, scribes, photographer, starter …. seat holder (!) an endless list of jobs that meant the actual cheerleading squad was non-existent.

I found myself in group 1 and had limited my strategy and planning to the compilation of a playlist that would enable me to ignore the rasping sound coming from my lungs and the bite of lactic acid building in my legs. With some thumping house beats I would be transported onto a higher plane and smash the field with a well timed build in the second half. That was the theory. Unfortunately headphones of any description were outlawed ‘for your own safety’ which seemed highly improbable … it’s not like I was expecting anyone to be overtaking me after all! And so I had to go in cold as it were, no music to transport me and nothing to distract me from the disheartening thought that my heart and lungs are about to explode and I’ve only done 3 laps?!

As for kit … (this is a cycling blog after all) yours truly went into this in standard road trim but I fear a few of my fellow SWR’s were taking this quite a bit more seriously. There was more deep dish action than you’d find in Pizza Hut on a Friday night and more aero bars than your local corner shop. What do you mean you don’t remember aero bars? The chocolate with the bubble? Adorabubble? (A word created by Salman Rushdie back in his day as an advertising copywriter – ‘tis true!) Anyway, I digress … point being there were some kitchen sinks (probably teardrop shaped) being thrown in to the search for speed although in fairness I don’t think any of the top 3 were on TT bikes so this ‘kit’ section has really added little except to enlighten you about the early career of Salman Rushdie in his pre fatwa days.

So what can I tell you about riding a time trial for the first time? It’s harder than it looks and this is definitely the case if a couple of riders just ahead of you get a bit overexcited and set off as fast as they can. Worried that you’re going to be lapped before the start of the second lap you have no choice but to give chase and pretty soon you’re seeing spots and breathing razor blades! So then it’s a case of trying to settle down and walk the tightrope between aerobic effort and the red zone. Something that would have been a lot easier with the help of a Garmin unit and a heart rate monitor but since I’d taken a rather naively purist, old skool, approach my handlebars remained unadorned with any electronic gadgetry and so I really didn’t have a clue as to how fast I was lapping or if I was speeding up or slowing down. I was doing it by feel alone – or using The Force as I like to think of it – but if I’m honest The Force is probably overrated in these sorts of situations.

On the positive side I managed to lap a couple of people and I didn’t get lapped by anyone behind me so was feeling reasonably satisfied with my efforts. Unfortunately my efforts were put into context by the time the final list of results had been pieced together and despite my own mid table mediocrity it was actually a pretty competitive field with 2nd to 7th place separated by less than 35 seconds. Full results below for the record – I need to find 1.1 mph from somewhere in time for next year! A teardrop helmet and some deep dish wheels should do it (because training is the last resort of the MAMIL with an internet connection!)

SW Rouleurs 10M TT Championships, 17 July 2014

Rank Name Time

1 Simon Osborn 25.17 (23.81 mph or 38.10 kmh)
2 Will Greig 25.35
3 Rick Gradidge 25.40
4 Quentin Baker 25.46
5= Angus Henderson 25.49
5= Fergus Graham 25.49
7 Jake Phipps 26.09
8 Jules Stow 26.35 (22.73 mph or 36.37 kmh)
9 Sandy Case 26.48
10 Chris Jelf 27.10
11 Ross Elder 27.34
12 Nils Wieboldt 28.05
13 Adam Green 28.10
14 Will Fenton 29.00

1 Clare Gradidge 31.58
2 Alice Gilbert 32.26
3 Belinda Beckmann 35.

57TT2014-3 TT2014-8 TT2014-25 TT2014-37 TT2014-55 TT2014-65 TT2014-68 TT2014-85


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