The Buxton Mountain TT course is probably the most technically difficult to pace time trial I’ve done. It is a fantastic course with one of my favourite views in the peaks, Chrome Hill. Although I didn’t glimpse it until the drive back, despite it’s imposing position on the landscape for the three laps of the course, my gaze obviously never faltered from the tarmac ahead. The course is 3 laps of roughly 10 miles each totaling 1000 meters in climbing.
The national RTTC events bring a strong field with the first round won by Alex Dowsett of team Movistar. The second round at Buxton or rather Longnor had a field of national hill climb champion, an Ironman champion and a Dame.
The weather was unbelievably good. In previous years this race has been run with ice and snow lining the route. Today was brilliant sunshine. It was my first ride of the year without knee warmers. So warm was the Sun that I had probably the earliest application of sun cream of the year since reaching an age at which I have been allowed to apply it will without the unsuspecting slap of cold Sun cream from my mother’s hand.
The wind direction wasn’t favourable for super quick times with a steady breeze from the west hampering the climb. I was riding the Zipp 808s which climbed very well, however I am still getting used to the cross wind buffeting you get with an 80mm front wheel when the speed increased. The cross wind at the top was a quick learning or rather leaning curve.
The usual pre race prep is made more interesting by trying to find an adequate parking space with the necessary space for a turbo trainer that isn’t angled on a 10% incline. As it happened I had forgotten my front wheel riser for the turbo so in the end the incline actually levelled the bike out. One ingenious competitor bagged himself the bus stop shelter for his turbo which gave a very nice private warm up station, I was very envious. Next time I will be bringing a luxury RV like that of the Ladies from team Podium Ambition. They managed to park particularly well.
The HQ facilities at the primary school are unique with privacy lacking somewhat when the calming of some pre race nerves is required. Whilst the saloon style toilet cubicle doors would suffice at keeping the modesty of a 8 year old boy, a 32 year old man it would not. Eye to eye contact with one or more of your fellow competitors would be a risk. Uncomfortable for all concerned. I instead turned on my cleats deciding not to bother.
A small gripe of mine with the national competitions is that they insist on arm numbers. If you are on your own, they are the most fiddly and frustrating things to put on. Luckily today I had assistance. Apart from the nuisance of attaching the numbers, they must cost a good few hundred pounds in additional drag. Although I later realised their use as I called out last week’s number crossing the line. In fact I rattled of two three numbers before settling on the correct one.
I decided to train through to this race with only a small reduction of training stress in the two days prior, I knew that I wouldn’t feel primed on the line. Despite this I set off at a good pace up the first climb. I was expecting to complete the time trial in around 1hr 30mins. It has been a while since I last did an effort of that length. I lost a little bit of confidence early on at the intensity I could hold, I really didn’t want to blow up on the second lap. I would much rather finish strong. I took some of the faster section too easy on this first lap and was messing around with my left shoe straps that were too loose.
I wasn’t overly familiar with the course, having last ridden the race 2 years ago and only a quick one lap reconnaissance two days before. After a very tentative first lap, in the second and third lap I managed to keep a bit more momentum up through the technical sections.
Finishing the climb on the third lap with just the descent to go I realised I had taken it a bit too easy. Upon reaching the finish I was a bit disappointed to feel ‘done’ instead of ‘mashed’. I probably had another half lap or so of that intensity in me. I think the predominantly spun out downhill finish makes the finale of a race more difficult to judge. Next year I really need a bigger chainring.
The final 100 meter incline to the finish was a lot of fun for me and those spectating. I must have popped 3 or 4 wheelies, perhaps another indication of having a little too much left and a general indication of my poor bike handling skills.