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  • 11/04/2022 - When second place does not count as the podium

    Saturday was the first race of the time trial season for myself and my tandem partner +RichardM. He reported elsewhere how we got on at the Farnborough and Camberley CC 25.

    Tandem time trial racing is something of a niche within a niche and we are often the only tandem entered. There was a £10 tandem prize on offer, less than the race fee and often there is no prize. Today, though, we had illustrious company in the shape of national champions Rachel Elliott and Ian Greenstreet. The tenner was always going to be theirs. They are a very rapid and had our proverbial backsides handed to us on a plate, being overtaken at the 5 mile mark by Rachel and Ian.

    Elliott and Greenstreet

    On the plus side, our tandem worked well. The tandem niche aspect means that more or less every machine in a tandem race is unique. Each pair find their own solutions to making their bikes faster. In our case, the addition of a rear disc wheel in 2021 proved problematic, with a few DNFs and even DNSs that year. Happy to report that after some minor engineering, the wheel has now settled in well now and is doing its job of making two aging cyclists a little faster.

    Shannon and May

    The westward section of the course felt really tough owing to a headwind. Rachel and Ian complained that it seemed a slow day for this course. They should know, it’s their home course. By the way, slow for them turned out to be 29.83mph (see unofficial times below). Having checked out their stats on the Cycling Time Trials website, this was true. They usually race at 30mph+ at all distances. Wow.

    Perhaps for comfort or perhaps to reconcile my/our shortcomings, I made a list of things I thought were slowing me/us down:

    • It was a windy day (see above).
    • My Velotose overshoes interfered with my right cleat, such that I suddenly developed 5-10mm of float (we had to freewheel so I could clip in multiple times and I ended up with a sore right knee).
    • A 16:00 start time (I’m totally a morning person).
    • I did 2 hrs of digging earlier in the day at the allotment (Did I mention I’m a morning person? When I get up I have to do something with my energy. The allotment is now ready for planting, though).
    • A 2-hr drive to the start (this does do something mentally).
    • We kept 2 bottles on the bike (these cost you 4w each, I’m told).
    • The pilot did not wear his pointy TT helmet (he needs to get over his fear of “picking my nose with it”).
    • Lastly, we did no proper warm up. We’d planned to do the BC race warm up on a turbo, didn’t, then just gently ambled 1 ½ miles to the start (It made the first five miles - which were into the wind - even harder).

    I guess I should have got these “excuses” in earlier, but I’m taking them as learning points for the rest of the season. Still, we managed to finish the race and come home comfortably under the hour, which we hadn’t done since September 2020.

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