The race in question was a 25 mile time trial in Hertfordshire, best described as "sporting" (i.e. hilly) or "fucking horrific" if your name is Anna Railton and you are ROWER SIZED with a catastrophic lack of climbing ability.
Two hours the day before cleaning up the "TT bike" - i.e. this bike with a different cockpit and wheels on it (and different groupset come to think of it) and shovelling it in the car with Wojciech's bike for company and we were READY. Getting up at rower o'clock again (i.e. 0530) was a bit of a shock to the system but a couple of coffees (and a coke in the car, then caffeinated energy gels ha) sorted that right out.
|Matured over the winter in a cellar (much like tubular tyres).|
Number pinned on (getting marginally better at pinning numbers on skinsuit before putting it on but naturally it still needed redoing as I am still largely incompetant at this key cyclist skill) ,CHECK. Courage legs dug out the box and securely attached, CHECK. An all too short warm up done and I was at the start waiting for my time to go off. I was amused to see that my resting heart rate on the start was a mere 150bpm. I guess the three energy gels thrown down my throat pre race were working then! Let's get this show on the road!
[Man holds me up].
[Man with clip board and stopwatch starts the countdown]
(160bpm, start Garmin).
SHIT SHIT SHIT FUCK THIS IS GOING TO HURT SHIT
You'd better make cleaning your chain and cassette for an hour worth it, Railton.
I didn't fall off, or start in the wrong gear so start was successful at least. A fast drag downwards then the climbing began. All thoughts about being in the big ring for the whole time trial were quickly shelved!
Three miles in and I'm swallowing vomit. Brilliant. Good one Railton. Guess you should've only had two gels, ejit.
|With thanks to the esteemed Davey Jones of Cambridge CC for this excellent shot! As you can see, I am about as aerodynamic as a house brick and still have rower shoulders to force through the air :)|
Four miles and I glimpse my minute-woman (i.e. the woman who went off a minute in front of me). Number 73, YOUR ASS IS MINE. I AM GOING TO HUNT YOU DOWN.
HUNT HUNT HUNT.
I see the luminous yellow number on the climbs, getting steadily closer. YOU ARE MINE.
Cadence? 95rpm. Good. Heart rate? Ermmmm yes. It's fine you are TOTALLY not going to die doing that for over an hour, it's fine. HONEST.
I pull myself a little further into the time trial bars. Stick a few more watts down. You can totally do this Railton. This is GOOD.
Another climb that feels like a brick wall. Small ring. More pressure on the pedals. Keep the power on over the crest of the hill MUST CONSERVE MOMENTUM. MUST REMAIN AERO AT ALL COSTS. MUST BE FAST.
6 miles. Casually pass #73. Try to look cool while snot pouring out of nose all over face. Effortless cool. I like it.
Bracing the core, must keep still in the saddle and smoooooth. Must be FASTER.
Oh shit is that a horse? YEP DEFINITELY A HORSE. NOT SLOWING DOWN FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
OK, horse passed and 100% no death. Good. 8 miles in. That's like a third! Woo! GO RAILTON.
[SHIT 16 MILES TO GO* D: D: D: D: D:]
* Course was shorted to 24 miles due to road work. This pleased me as 24 has more factors than 25 allowing for more "oh you are X% through the TT calculations to keep my mind off the pain and my looming death.
IS THAT ANOTHER RIDER AHEAD? *cue evil laughing*
[Memory fails me, not sure what happens 8-19 miles. It was probably painful.]
Some sort of blur of lactic acid and lung burn passes and I see the 5 miles to go sign. Thank FUCK for that.
Of course, this last five miles is into a headwind, naturally. SLOG SLOG.
Four miles to go.
SLOG SLOG KEEP THOSE FUCKING PEDALS TURNING SMOOTHLY, RAILTON.
Three miles to go. I ride into what feels like the side of a cliff. OH GOD THERE'S A MASSIVE HILL FUCK MY LIFE.
|Photo credit Ian Lambert of North Road CC (??). I have quite a strangely small head.|
Hill is longer than a minute. This is BAD. I am already very deep into the pain cave and the door has been sealed long ago. The only way is deeper, darker.
I start to click up the cassette. Into the small ring. Into smaller gears and still it continues.
People are cheering at the side of the road, shouting "dig deep!" at me. I want to shout at them "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I'M DOING!?!?!?" but there was no spare oxygen for such fripperies. I needed all the oxygen I could get to remain actually alive and travelling up this BASTARD FUCKING ENDLESS HILL.
WHY WILL THIS NOT END.
WHO THE FUCK DESIGNED THIS COURSE.
I HATE THEM.
Mercifully, the hill did actually end, as geography usually dictates. An age seemingly passes before the "2 miles to finish" but by this time my soul has long since dropped out my arse and I am blinking back tears. There is no natural light in the pain cave any more. Not even a flickering bulb hanging from the roof. It is all black. I bump into a black cat painted black wearing a black hat. Heavy metal is playing I think. WHERE IS OXYGEN? IS THAT A BAT?!?
I push on.
One mile to go. Another small hill. Instantly small ring, grinding up it. There is no souplesse, no thought of form any more. This just needs to end, soon.
A group of cyclists out for a Sunday pootle. I go wide to pass them and see the finish board. I aim myself at it.
I throw my bike towards the line (which is just kind of pointless and very ineffective in time trial bars but habits from the track die hard) and it is over. I push the 'Stop' button on my Garmin, nearly crashing in the process and there it is. That was what I, Anna Railton, can produce for 24 miles up and down some hills.
I ride back to the car at walking pace, sort of quietly pleased with myself because I was totally fucked, which was precisely of the object of the exercise.
"I should do this again next year, it was fun" I thought to myself, coughing up bits of lung.
I shove a banana down my face when back at the car then put on all the clothes I own. I contort to take my number off my back under all these new clothes. I am intelligent.
I cycle the 150m to the HQ (because fuck me am I walking anywhere at this point), abandon my bike next to a wheelie bin, crawl up the stairs and attempt to swap said number for a cup of coffee.
"Black or white?"
*blinks at nice lady manning the tea and coffee*
"Would you like black or white coffee?"
"ERMMMMMMMMM" I don't understand this question what is going on.
*I receive white coffee* (This is fortunate as I don't actually like black coffee).
"ERMMMMM thanks?" Is that the right word for this situation?
I glance at the time board, note that Lucy "The Goss" Gossage has smashed everyone. Then I sort of do the "controlled falling" method of getting down the stairs, spill coffee on my fleece and retrieve my bike from next to the bins. Somehow I manage to drink the coffee while cycling. I head out on the road again to try and get some of this 24 miles of hell out my legs before I need to drive home.
A few miles of walking pace cycling down the road and I meet The Goss, out for a run. There I am, totally shafted, and Lucy has just turned it into a brick session.
WHAT THE HELL.
STOP MAKING ME LOOK BAD.
What can I say, professional Iron Man athletes are ... well, a bit mental. In a good way, naturally. I informed her she won and went on my way, probably cycling a damn site slower than she was running. I reminded myself never to take up Iron Man.
I eventually made it back to the HQ and saw to my (quite considerable surprise) that I managed to be the third fastest woman so I was £40 richer! HURRAH!
And thus the 2014 season began. And it was good. Two weeks time = Belgium!
(Also, many thanks to North Road CC for such a great event, too - I *will* be back next year!)