Saturday, 20 February 2016

Team Time Trials - A Family Affair (unfortunately)

During my years as a club cyclist it seems that there were few opportunities to ride team time trials. On reflection this is a shame as I now realise that all of the events I did ride team time trials were, with one exception most enjoyable.

To deal with the exception first. This was when after several years away from riding time trials my ego was massaged by some extremely fast club members who were desperately searching for a fourth rider just make up the required number. I was not told that they believed they could win the event and that they would be riding at a pace I had not achieved since the 1950’s.

For about the first 15 miles I was able to do my fair share on the front but during the last 25 miles I was told to ride through but not do any work on the front. This was a lot easier said than done but to my amazement I managed to stay with my three “team mates” until the last two miles when I just completely blew and tailed off to finish on my own.

The disappointment of failure was added to by the fact that as we passed over the M11 towards the end of the course I saw my wife turn our car down the slip road and head off up the motorway (where there was no turn off for about 10 miles) with all my change of clothes and I had to wait at the finish feeling absolutely shattered in my sweaty racing gear until she returned some hour and a half later. Our time was 4th fastest and therefore out of the prizes and I was given the feeling that despite having done my best I had let the team down by being the weakest link.

After that painful experience I always made sure that I never again moved out of my class when any club team was being put together.

All of the other t.t.t’s have been enjoyable but the most pleasure always came from riding in a family team in the Clarencourt C.C. event. I think we rode it four times and managed to always win the family prize (this may have been due to the fact there were very rarely any other family teams entered - but a win is a win!)

As with most family event it did involve a fair bit of swearing, blame and general faffing about. The team consisted of my brother, my son and daughter and myself and I believe that the last time we all rode together our ages totalled something approaching 200 years and we were “fastest family” plus the fasted on age standard. It was also during this event that my brother learned that my daughter knew all the swear words that he had used whilst racing, plus some that were new to him.

The first time we rode it my brother punctured as we approached the bottom of the climb (on the A23 - Brighton Road). We sent my daughter on up the hill while we changed the tubular. My daughter told us after the event that a marshal at the top of the hill shouted to tell her she had dropped her team and to ease up! She did not stop to explain that our cunning plan was that she was saving her energy to put in bigger stints on the front once we had managed to rejoin her.

This was always a very social event with the prize presentation made directly after the event and our guaranteed (upon finishing) prize money was alway invested in the local pub as soon as we returned home. We don't have any photos of this event, only a Betamax video with flashes of us four, long shots of coffee being poured from a flask and the dashboard of a car.