Aug 09

Richard Bielby’s July open time-trialling report

In the past I have led both 10 League and Road Race League going into the last race of the series, I also have a 100% record, I finished second. When I won 10 League in 2010, I did so by coming from behind, I just hoped I could change all of these facts and win the 10 League once more.

10 League – Round 4

After a poor ride at the previous weekend, I arrived at the fourth and final round of the 10 League on 1st July, more with a hope than an expectation of winning. In the last two weeks I had been focused on this day, but knew I would be up against it to win. My lead was only 6 points, or 6 seconds from City Road Club’s Lee Watson. The way in which points are worked out are based on a target time, with your last performance giving you your target. In round 3, I had improved for the third event in a row, giving me a target time that was the third fastest time I have ever done in my life. The majority of the field went slower, reducing their target time, Lee was one of these riders. Knowing I was on my limit and would only go a little faster with the right conditions, and also knowing Lee had already gone much faster than his target time in a previous round, meant that I was under pressure.

The wind on the day of the event appeared to be smiling on me, a south easterly was the ideal direction for fast times, however this wind blew in the hottest day of the year, which I don’t like so much. I arrived at the headquarters and checked the result board. It was then that I could see several riders were quite close on points. I knew I would need a personal best time to win overall, but with the wind in this direction anything was possible and I was determined. I started my warm up and could feel my legs still had zip missing, but unlike the weekend before my head was good, so I remained positive.

When I started, the wind was in my face as expected, so I knew if I went hard from the start I would get relief on the way back. When I was warming up, I noted my heart rate was a little up on normal, probably down to the hot conditions, going so hard so early meant my heart rate was right up to the max straight way. My speed was quite good given the head wind between 27-28 mph, but it was taking a massive effort to do this.

The slope up to the turn was a real struggle and then turning to receive a tail wind was a real disappointment. I had expected to be pushed along with ease, but it was nothing of the sort, rather than spinning the pedals they still needed to be pushed hard. The effort I had made on the way out started to hit me, and I started to feel really sick. I was now not only fighting to go fast, but not to throw up before I finished.

The last mile was fast once more and whilst I felt really awful, I at least knew I had done all I could to try to win. I stopped my Garmin and checked to see how I had done. My Garmin read a short 22 minute ride, as I explained before, once I have taken off the time for starting it early and stopping it late, I knew I had done a long 21 minute ride. This would not be good enough. I had just ridden the fastest I had done all year, but was disappointed.

I returned to my car, got changed, but could not cool down. I walked to the headquarters dripping with sweat and saw my time 21:50, another sub 22 minute ride, but nowhere near good enough. At that time I still leading and with only a few riders that could still challenge me I hoped to remain on the podium.

Fate however showed it’s hand, the wind that had been blowing disappeared and riders towards the end of the field enjoyed good conditions. There were some very strange times, with riders going over a minute faster than they had been able to in any of the previous rounds. Stew Pickard was the first to move in front of me on the overall, before Lee Watson beat both of us. Lee, however was also beaten by Team Swift’s Kirsty Smith, who came from behind to take the win. On the night Ali Wareham took the honours with a time of 18:39.

Whilst disappointed not to win, when I thought about it, I had entered 10 League to be able to test myself against the same riders over a series and hopefully do a sub 22 minute ride. I had achieved what I had set out to do and had finished 4th overall which was something I had not expected.

City Road Club’s Good Friday 10

In April, City Road Club’s Good Friday 10 was postponed due to bad weather, it was re-scheduled for Sunday 5 July 2015 and was my next trip to the V718. I’d managed to get the day off work to ride an was glad I did. I opened the curtains and could not see a breath of wind in the air. It was also cooler than it had been on the previous Wednesday and conditions were perfect.

It sounds a bit cocky to say that I knew I was going to set a personal best as I drove to the course, but something was telling me that today was the day. The pressure I has placed on my self trying to win 10 league had gone and I was relaxed. The field had big gaps due to being a re-scheduled event as riders went to other events (Jim was one of these setting a club record for 100 miles, well done Jim) meaning that I did not have any riders to chase. I was off number 19 and had a fast rider setting off 1 minute behind, I was also relaxed about this, knowing that I could use this rider as an aid, holding him off and then not letting him go.

I started and found a rhythm that was comfortable, but fast. My confidence in being able to set a new personal best grew as I could see speeds around 29 -30 mph. With no wind to disrupt my rhythm I was able to maintain a consistent pace, albeit one which was very hard work, the pedals still had to be kicked round. I reached the turn without being caught and continued at pace on the way back. My heart rate was lower and I didn’t feel sick, I just continued to power along until the finish without being caught. I knew I had done a good ride and my Garmin confirmed this, showing a long 21 minute ride. It then struck me that a PB would be very close given my rule of thumb knocking off 20 seconds. I was worried I had missed out, so was overjoyed to see 21:19 on the result board, a 13 second beating of a time I set in July 1995.

But, as it seems to be the case I cannot help but be hard on myself. Whilst my time was good, I should have gone faster. Riders I had been beating easily closed the gap and those I had been close to had pulled away. I am sure that had I been on top form a sub-21-minute ride would have been possible, but life is full of ifs and buts.

The other thing of note for me was that I actually beat my personal best. What I mean by this that it shows how much the technology of the sport has moved on. I say the technology, because I know how fit I was in 1995 compared to today. I am obviously fairly fit to record the sort of times I have, but in 1995 I was riding a road bike with clip on tri bars and deep section wheels, I was finishing in the top 10 of most open time trials I rode(I finished 12th less than 1:30 behind Richard Prebble for my previous personal best). Now with a full time trial rig, disc wheel and aero equipment I am nowhere near to the top 10 in most opens, yet I am able to set a time better than I could when fitter. (If I had finished less that 1:30 behind the winner, I would have been sub 20 minutes, Mark Jones, Drag2zero won with a time of 18:24).

On a final note, taking everything into account, I have a great deal of optimism for the future, I now know a sub 21 minute ride is possible if I continue to improve, and possibly a sub 20 minute with all the right conditions again.

Too fast

My next Open, was to Team Swift’s 10 for the slowest 90 entered, however Mike Williams told me a few weeks back that my improved times had now made me too fast for this event. I was quite happy at losing out because I was too fast.

After this it was to be Selby CC’s 10, again on the V718, this was taking place on Saturday 18/07/15 at the same time as the YCF 10 on the O10/1 course. I therefore had a bit of a dilemma in which to enter, however chose the faster, more local course. This turned out to be the wrong decision. I would say I had my entry returned, but received nothing back, not even a email to inform me. the first I knew I had been unsuccessful was when I looked on Time trialling forum and saw that I was not on the start sheet. My frustration was compounded when I saw that the YCF 10 did not have a full field.

Organisers do a difficult job that is thankless, I know I have organised events in the past, but this brings me back to a point I raised earlier in the year. I want to ride events like everyone else. It is clear the V718 is a popular course and will get more entries than the organiser can start, but if you asked all the riders that were unsuccessful, I am sure like me they would have jumped at the chance to ride another event elsewhere. The positive to this would be other events such as the YCF 10 would have filled up no doubt to the pleasure of the organiser of that event, the CTT would make more money from levies and everyone would be happy. CTT are able to legislate for the safety of riders, preventing start time at various times of the day on certain courses. Maybe an earlier cut off time for entries on popular courses such as the V718, so that entries can be returned and riders can choose an alternative event is the way forward. My point earlier in the year was that if I get hacked off at missing events, then what sort of message does this send out to people new to the sport?

Whilst I’m on one, it also seems to me that the V718 has become a 3-speed course, whilst normal events cover the fast riders, slowest events cover the slower riders, but there seems to be a gap for riders that have times between 21 minutes and 23 minutes. Obviously organisers can organise whatever event they want, but it would be nice for everyone to have a chance to ride fast courses, so maybe some normal, middle mark and long mark events could take place in the future. I can almost here the shouts “Organise one yourself”. I’d love to, but try working 6 days in a row, with different shifts, never having guaranteed days off, a young family, training and racing, then time is a little short to do anything else.


My next event was the following day the VTTA 25 on the V236/1. This provided another chance of improving my 25 mile time. I have never ridden the course before so had no idea of what it was like, but I am aware it is one of the few fast courses in Yorkshire. Whilst it was a VTTA event, City Road Club’s Andrew Vaughan is the organiser. I asked for a late start due to work commitments and Andrew sorted this out for me, along with placing himself directly behind me and a chance to try to catch me, revenge for catching him a couple of times this year I wondered?

The following morning I was glad I had asked for a late start time, rain was pouring down and knowing that some of the course was on dual carriageway I wondered if it would be cancelled for safety reasons. I checked on Time Trialling Forum and thankfully someone had posted they had received a text cancelling the event. I know I’ve just had a bit of a moan, but this was an example of good organisation, Andrew had sent out text messages at 6:30 am cancelling the event, which I was grateful for as it saved me a 3-hour round trip and lots of petrol.

Whilst I was pleased to be able to climb back into bed, this was my last chance this year of breaking the hour this year, it was also to be my last event of July as work once again takes over. My next event in August would have been the Bridlington CC 10 (Assuming my new PB would be fast enough to get me a ride) but I have already had my hours changed at work to cover Hull City’s game against Huddersfield, so even if I do get a ride, I would not be able to start. I am now looking at events in the final week of August and a break of about 6 weeks. Whilst I would prefer to be racing, it would give me a bit of a rest and hopefully a strong end of season.

In August hopefully I will be riding the Rutland CC 10, Team Swift Charity 10 and the Scarborough CC 10.

I also plan to ride the club 5. I mentioned needing a partner to ride City Road Club’s 2-up 10 in September, so if anyone fancies it give me a call or text on 07722 388098, otherwise come and let me know whilst I’m there so I can sort the entry out, otherwise expect me to grab hold of someone, so you can be volunteered to help me out.


Richard Bielby
Hull Thursday Road Club member