Thursday, 6 September 2012

The 10 mile TT

In a poor attempt to emulate the 2K post I thought I'd write a post about what has been occupying my life for the past few months, namely CYCLING and specifically THE 10 MILE TT.

The concept is simple. You have a course that is 10 miles long (that you have hopefully remembered or you are going to have bad time out there) and a bike. In general a 10TT is more fun than a 2K, despite being taking longer, because you have (a) the very real prospect of being hit by a car and dying if you don't concentrate and (b) bikes are more fun than ergos (you can buy saddles and shoes and pedals and new handlebars AND ALL THE CYCLING THINGS and that stuff is usually shiny and interesting).

A standard club TT seems to involve turning up somewhere were some nice person has set up a small table with a clipboard and some numbers and some really crap safety pins. You write your name on the paper next to a number, stick an emergency phone number down (I always put down my own mobile number which I KNOW is retarded but I can't stop doing) and you collect your number and shitty safety pins.

I usually go for #1 if it's free because FUCK YOU I DON'T NEED ANYONE TO CHASE.

I am invariably there on my own and this poses a problem, namely how the FUCK are you supposed to put a number on the back of a skinsuit on your own without getting butt-naked.

For this reason there has been a large string of very embarrassed men who I present with a number and ask to pin it to my arse.

Brilliant ice-breaker that. Especially when they go *nervous laughter* "This skinsuit is rather tight isn't it? *nervous laughter*, followed by a very intense silence as they try very hard not to stick a safety pin into one of my arse cheeks.

(Here is a photo of me failing to look stacked in that skinsuit.)

More bicep curls = very much required. More on the thing with the track later.

Number attached, and generally looking like a massive tit in a skinsuit (everyone else is wearing them though) you then must board (board?) your bike and find The Start. 

The Start is usually quite easy to find as there are always a couple of nice, friendly looking old guys with some very complicated-looking stopwatches (as in stopwatches that print-out-shit complicated) and clothed in fetching hi-viz jackets. You must then put your life in their hands as one of them holds your frame while you clip in both feet ready to go.

(***Pro tip: Make sure your not in top gear else you're going to fall over and make a massive tit of yourself.)

At this point one of them usually goes "You have a Brooks?!?!?" in a kind of incredulous voice and you just go:

Then man-not-holding-you-up starts counting down and you forget about Brooks Saddles and get ready to UNLEASH HELL.

You make it onto the main road without dying. In celebration you UNLEASH MORE HELL.

(The problem with having a Garmin device is that it is very good at both telling you and recording your highly imminent blow out. You can look at some amazing graphs after the event to analyse the precise point you utterly blew for example. I am so erging with mine recording this coming season....)

The self-assuring dialogue gets into full swing.

I tend to either be (a) swearing at myself (b) swearing at my Garmin (I have HOW far to go?!?!?!) or (c) swearing at my legs telling them to pedal faster. Mainly swearing to be honest. My racing sub-conscious has a very impressive swearing repertoire full of imaginative and colourful language you should not repeat in front of your mother.

(This one is especially common)
Somehow I make it to the roundabout to turn round and come back again. WHO THE FUCK PUT THOSE RUMBLE STRIPS THERE?!?!?!?


I. FUCKING. HATE. RUMBLE. STRIPS. (Especially when they put them all the way to the gutter so you just can't avoid them and lose at least one water bottle.)


 Do you know 'Spitfire' by The Prodigy? 

(Video rather...uninspiring....) Anyway, this is the common standard of my ergo playlist fodder and it usually pops up in my head while doing stuff like this. 

Because, you know, THEY CALL ME SPITFIRE.

(They actually don't, they call me Railton because that's my feckin name, but small matter).

Stuff then starts to get a bit weird I think. I honestly can't say I've ever remembered miles 5-8 in a time trial (apart from that one time I nearly got doored - that brings you back down to earth pretty fucking sharpish). I start to get odd religious experiences.

Once I get within two miles to go reality calls.

Reality unfortunately hurts quite a lot.

Time for.... 

                        .... wait for it....


Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Harderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr fucking hell Railton goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!


The end. It is in sight.


What are you? FROM OXFORD?!?!?!?!?!?


 Annnnnnnnd that's pretty much it. There of course is the few seconds after you stop when you get that weird rush of lactate and it hurts *more* and you question pretty hard why you do this stuff to yourself.

But that's OK. You know you keep doing stuff like this because you are mental and have long since accepted that fact. 

Now, at this point I was going to write something about the Olympics and the Paralympics (no firefox, I do not want to change that to "Paralytics" WTF), but I think they deserve a nice round up post of their own, this post is getting long enough already and I want to go to sleep at some point this evening. So the Olympics (+probably bonus Tour de France + Vuelta) can wait for a bit. SORRY GUYS.

Instead, I am going to talk excitedly at you about TRACK CYCLING and GOING TO A TRACK and fun stuff like that. 

So, the story goes that I was at a bit of a loose end after CUW shut up shop for the summer (having spent pretty much fuck all time in my single over the winter) and I was all whingy and didn't know what to do with myself. It was June and I had to do some racing or something before mid-September of I would likely kill something.

Then I learned that only four women ever have got cycling blues at Cambridge (one of them was Emma Pooley HA). Hello new thing to aim for. Is said thing to aim for (a) difficult to achieve and (b) will require a lot of suffering to get there? GO ON THEN.

Some self evaluation followed.

And that is how I am now entered for Nat Champs at the end of September (doing the Induvidual Sprint and 500mTT). No half measures! :D

(For those who don't know what match sprinting is, here is Chris Boardman telling you what's going on.)

So, randomly, I already own a track bike and have done so for the last three years (long story, but fixies are easy to clean and unlikely to break and I live in Cambridge ffs). However I had not ever been on a track until a few weeks ago.

First things first, take off the brake.

Second thing, get on the track (outdoor one in Welwyn, still not made it to a proper velodrome) and don't die while cycling with no brake.

Having no brakes is pretty fucking good for your general bike handling skills and I thankfully got used to it quickly.

Then I learned how to use the banking and MUCH FUN WAS HAD.

 I think this photo is pretty good at displaying the level of joy I had:

 As is this:

(And no, I didn't change my kit for the photo op).

 Here is me pretending to be aero:

And here is me being obnoxious:

 At this point I feel we should take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the Bianchi (I've had that bike for three years now and every time I look at it I'm still like "Awwwwww fuck, that bike is beautiful") and DAT. TRISPOKE.

(Sadly not mine, but stealing it is a work in progress).

What I have concluded about cycling so far:

1) I could open up a salt mine on the floor of the turbo room. NOICE.
2) You can get into a lot of pain in 40s. Much more than I thought possible.
3) Match sprinting seems to be a combination of being aggressive, being intimidating and UNLEASHING ALL THE POWER IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD through your pedals. In short, it's awesome. Also painful.
4) Doing speed endurance training is a bitch. Just awful.

So yes, I'm trying to be a sprinter for the next few weeks, after which I will come down to earth doing the CUW 2K test (expected outcome: first 250m = THE BEST EVER I AM SO FUCKING AWESOME, next 1750m = WHAT IS THIS ENDURANCE SHIT?!?!? ARGHHHHHHHHHHH) and hopefully not being in an eight for the next nine months.

Then this blog might talk about rowing a bit! Hurrah! (There will be lots of rowing chat in the 'lympics post I promise!).

Also, I am having a "please get these fucking posters out my lounge please" fire sale, so all the Rowing: The Rules posters are now just a fiver. AND for that I'll even post it to you and draw stuff on the bottom.  PLEASE GET THEM OUT MY HOUSE FFS.



  1. Like. I want to come and watch you at Nat Champs, can I can I can I?

    1. You actually can, yes! Though it's in Manchester....

      HOWEVER, I think the likelihood of me getting very, very caned by some Olympians is *high*, so there might not be much to see!

  2. It's starting to look like there is going to be a whole army of Cambridge supporters/helpers descending on Manchester at the end of the month!

  3. Three things:

    1) Comforting that I'm not the only one who talks to myself while riding.

    2) You actually think, "Souplesse?" I thought only the French thought in French.

    3) I must, after all, be the only one who tells himself to, "Lift!, lift!, lift!" (the unweighted leg).

    1. I also occasionally think "ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ" because that's quite fun and you can imagine there is some crazed Frenchman in a team car somewhere screaming it at you.

  4. While I know it is WRONG to talk about 2K times - is it OK to ask about your 10TT time?
    Which reminds me the Juniors at Norwich Rowing club need to learn the rules - one bounced up to me in a club and started twitting on about erg times ! WEIRDO!

    1. Welll, the fastest I ever did a 10TT was 24:44 I think? So not exactly world beating, but I think respectable for someone without a TT bike.

      I thought the juniors at NRC had seen one of the posters/were given them?

    2. Yes - they were - except some were - appropriated by coach due to the number of F***s ;-) Seeing as it was a "club" I guess Junior wasn't their category ...

      Besides none of them can read!

  5. am slightly concerned that you are doing a 500mile tt - have been reassured it's probably metres .... wouldn't put it past you to do miles!

    1. Yes, it is only 500 metres, because us weak wimmin types can't be trusted to do the kilo :(

  6. Congrats! (and go Cambridge) but hmmmm.... I'm seeing a link between rowing and cycling and its pain.

    On a completely unconnected note, have you read "Fifty shades of grey"?

  7. My first TT was the BUCS 25 miler...
    1) going for a 5 mile run the same morning (vaguely recalling there being some marathon thing I was technically training for)
    2) cycling to the start (19 miles, out at Stetchworth)
    4) Road bike, bedazzled with: standard drop bars & wheels, Gatorskin tyres, flappy T-shirt
    5) First-ever outing with the Cateye computer!! WOOOO, MAKE THE NUMBERS GO HIGHER!!!!
    6) Overtaking 2 other girls on superkeen first lap

    RESULT. refused to get re-overtaken. just about saw finish. couldn't unclip own feet at finish. Passed out.fell over still clipped in. Ate ALL THE CAKES someone's mum had baked back at race HQ in Stetchworth. Cycled home to Cambridge again. Took part in 4-man 160km team relay run along the Ridgeway Trail the next day. Went home. Slept. Reconsidered approach to TTs in general. Waited 2 years before attempting another....

    But more importantly - WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY are there SO FEW WOMEN RACING BIKES?!!! Lack of competition = utter shite. Rant rant rant. Wanna come race in Newcastle (Oz) Anna?! - please!! -it's every Saturday, if you don't mind racing round the coal loaders and inhaling lots of shitty black coal dust and dodging the coal trucks and coal trains!! Flat though :-)

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  9. I think you 'mount' your bike.. rather like a trusty steed, but I see no problem with boarding a bike either. Boarding sounds more like you're having a go on a space ship...!

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