Jun 26

Richard Bielby’s May time-trialling report

The start of May, for me, brought the start of a period in which I would be racing in some of my favourite events, but it would also be the time of year I would need to achieve my goals.

My first race after a 3 week enforced gap due to work commitments would be the Barton Wheelers 10. I had ridden this last in 2010 recording a short 25 minute ride. At that time, whilst I was not competitive, I found that I really liked the course and it became one of my favourite events. The course is on minor roads to the South of Barton (on reflection it had to be, if it was North it would haven been a swimming event) and is virtually square in shape, which obviously means you never have to put up with much of a head wind no matter which way it is blowing.

The roads are undulating for the first few miles, before you make a dead turn at the mast you can see from the A15. It would normally be frustrating to lose most of your speed, but on making the turn you start a gradual downhill until you turn again. The road is now pretty much flat, with a few twists and turns until the final leg when things start to get really tough. The last leg is a gradual drag which saps the strength, until you hit a sharp descent and a short sprint to the finish. It’s a great course and one I use regular when out training on the south bank.

It being an event I really like, I really wanted to do well, 56 riders on the start sheet would normally mean I would target a top 28 finish, but with my extra motivation I really wanted a top 20. Jim and John Savage were also riding, meaning Hull Thursday had a counting team. I did not really think about this beforehand, but when I saw Jim before the start he told me about a conversation he’d had with Dave Percival of Team Swift. Dave had mentioned the team prize and whilst he was confident in a Team Swift win, he though Hull Thursday would challenge them. I was sold, it was great to be once again thinking about competing for honours, I was even more determined to get stuck in.

The weather was it’s usual mixed bag, it was warmer than it had been, but heavy showers threatened and the wind was blowing it’s usual gale, however I knew the wind would only be a factor on the short last leg.

The ride out to the start was a good warm up, so I knew I would be able to go hard from the start. With only a couple of miles before the downhill section I knew I would be able to recover on this, however I still managed to see 38 mph on the down hill as I pushed by biggest gear. Whilst on the flat rear section of the course, I caught and passed my minute man, so I knew I was on a decent ride and then the last drag did not seem as bad as I thought it would be with the head wind. I emptied the tank and finished with a time of 23:16, a good 2 minutes faster than I had done before.

Talking to Jim after the event he had recorded 22:19, meaning I was now within a minute of him. He said he’d done a good ride, as his power was up, so I knew my improvement was continuing. Whilst Jim’s time was good enough for 7th, mine gave me 17th and the top 20 finish I was after. John recorded a mid 25 minute ride which put us in the running for the team prize, but whilst we thought Team Swift would be the competition, the promoting club Barton Wheelers grouped their riders and took the team prize. The event was won by Ian Dalton in 21:19 by 1 second from 3 other riders.

The following Saturday (16/05/2015), whilst most local riders wanted to take on Sir Bradley Wiggins, I decided not to be a groupie and entered Sheffrec CC’s 25 at Hatfield Woodhouse. I had never ridden the course before, whilst I knew it was not a fast course, I also knew it was the fastest course I would have rode on for a 25 this year. I needed to get decent 25 time under my belt. My long term goal is obviously to break the hour mark in each and every 25 I do, but for the moment I would settle for anything under 1hr 5.

I saw Joel at the headquarters and used his experience to find out what the course was like. Joel described the course as a sort of L shape, with Hatfield in the middle of the L, rough roads that broke the rhythm, pan flat but exposed to the wind. If you went out to see Wiggins attempt on the A63 you will know it was ruined by the wind, it goes without saying that a 25 in that sort of wind was always going to be hard.

I was second last rider to start, only Nigel Haigh (Strategic Lions)was behind me and I knew I would see him at some point, but I couldn’t worry about anyone else, I just needed to concentrate on my own ride. The first 6 or 7 miles were quite comfortable with a tail wind. I was going along at speeds around 30 mph and thought was going alright, when Nigel Haigh went past almost as if I was stood still.

I took the first turn and the force of the wind became apparent, my speed was 10 mph slower as I battled to keep above 20 mph on very rough roads. The wind was brutal and the whole event became more a test of mental strength, rather than time trialling ability. Also the sadomasochistic nature of the course meant you went right past the HQ at the half way point, it was so tempting to turn off and end the pain, but no, I need to have days like this, cycling is a tough sport and we do it because it is tough.

The second half of the course is the O10/1 course, again whilst this is flat, it is exposed, so now I was faced with a cross wind blowing me around. It was as I made my way to the last turn I saw Joel walking at the side of the road, he’d had a mechanical with only 3 miles to go, whilst he was looking at doing a 53 which would have won.
As I made the last turn I just wanted to survive to the finish, all thoughts of a good time were out of my mind, I was totally knackered and did not care what I did. I was so knackered at the end that I tried to sprint for the line and just did not have any strength left in my body, I sat back down and did the best I could.

When I arrived back at the HQ I had to sit for several minutes, my whole body hurt. I’d really dug deep in my quest for a time under 1hr 5, so was delighted to record 1hr 2:49, Nigel Haigh won with a short 53 minute ride.

The event that turned out to be my last of May was Round 1 of the Team Swift 10 league. 10 League has been a part of my cycling life since I started in 1989, back then it was an interclub event(semi open) that was promoted by Hull Thursday. In the mid 90’s I organised the 5 events for a couple of years and finished second on points in 1994 and second fastest behind Joel in 1995. When I returned to the sport for a couple of years the format was slightly different and it was a Team Swift event organised by Mike Williams. Mike does a great job organising many events and continues to race. He’s a real unsung hero in the time trialling world and the sport is so much better off with his involvement. As mentioned the format Mike had was slightly different, but I could see a loop hole and with some canny riding won the points in 2010.

This year there would be no taking it easy in early rounds, my next goal was to do a 22 minute 10. So far I have only got my 10 time down to 23:05, but with the chance to ride on the V718 again I was confident I could achieve my goal. I was down as a reserve rider, but got a ride early in the field, dry and bright weather wasn’t enough to get rid of the wind, but it was a little less than the weekend before.

When I started I was confused as to the direction of the wind. I had expected a tail wind start and a hard finish, but the start was anything but easy. That said my speed was between 28-30mph so I knew I was on for a 22. The great thing about the V718 is that there isn’t really any nasty surprises, good road surfaces, flat roads mean that once you have a rhythm, yes it hurts and you’re blowing out of your backside, but you can maintain it. I rode consistent until the last mile and half when the wind really hit you in the face. If you had gone too hard too early this would be a nightmare, thankfully I had a bit left and used this to get the finish , recording 22:29.

On seeing my time I could not help but feel frustrated, on a less than perfect day I had recorded a time which was only 57 seconds off my personal best, could I beat this time I set 20 years ago with a good day? The problem being that this year none of the days have been good. I was happy with the time and also happy that I want more, the motivation continues.

Next month in June it’s my biggest month for events, I’ll be riding –

10 League rounds 2 and 3, Drighlington BC 10, Yorkshire Coast Clarion Hilly 20, YCF 15, Lindsey Road Club 10 and Bridlington cc Hilly 10.

Also, I know September seems a long way off, but I would like to ride City Road Club’s 2-up with 1 rider being a veteran. It would be nice if one of the younger riders wanted to join me in this season ending race, anyway its something to think about.


Richard Bielby
Hull Thursday Road Club member