Posted on Tuesday 27 June 2017 by Jon McColl
What better way, as an occasional racing cyclist, to counter the disturbing ascendancy of alternative facts than to compete in the race of truth? Two indisputable numbers: a distance, and a time. No room for misrepresentation or relativist interpretation, just an indisputable universal truth.
As a consequence I found myself, together with Alex Marzec of OV Cycling Club, on the start line of the Victoria CC 16.4km event for my first 2-up TTT. Conditions were nearly perfect: warm, but not overly so, with virtually no wind. The course (E1/10A, don’t ask) is on the B1383 northwest of Saffron Walden. It is undulating, out-and-back with just one turn at a roundabout. No dual-carriageway dragstrip this.
Alex and I had ridden together only once before. We’d had a 30-minute session around Regent’s Park practising our changes and following closely on each other’s wheel. This had gone well and we were hopeful of a respectable TTT result.
We started cautiously, not wishing to go out too fast. Short turns on the front and judging our efforts by perceived exertion – no power metres for us. My latest indulgence – a self-built Condor Ultima TT bike – was riding beautifully. We got into a steady rhythm and reached the turn with sufficient in the tank for the return leg.
Now we were pushing harder. Alex leading up the drags but, with lactic acid levels beginning to build in my legs, small gaps opening up occasionally. Calls of “easy” on my part ensured we stayed together. I was marginally faster on the downhills. On the flat sections of the course we were evenly matched and kept a tight formation – saving energy in each other’s slipstream. The final mile was an all-out effort. We crossed the finish line in a time of 27min 33sec; an average speed of just over 22.2mph and 1min 17sec quicker than the Veterans’ Time Trials Association standard. A better result than either of us had expected.
Somewhat foolishly I had also entered the event as a solo rider. I was off again an hour after the finish of the 2-up ride, having had little time for recovery. The result of my solo effort; an underwhelming 30min 47sec (2min 42sec worse than standard) and more than 11 minutes outside the course record held by a Mr A Dowsett.
Sometimes, the truth hurts.