A bike’s a bike. Pedals, two wheels, a saddle and something to hold on to. Yet the move from the road to time trial bike is more than a simple change of equipment. Not just does it feel like wearing a jumper for trousers, it requires a change of mindset.
My first ride back on the wind cheating rig was uneventful. Although I say uneventful. To a none cyclist and in any other context than riding a bicycle along the public highway, I’d be justifiably treated for a mild case of PTSD. To a hardened cyclist the death defying escapes from minor traffic incursions are just part of the course. I include in this the near miss with a silver estate car that whilst pulling out looked straight at me and either didn’t appreciate the 25mph closing speed or just simply didn’t care.
It’s been 7 weeks and 1 day since my last TT bike ride. She will now become my training companion for the next 9 months before yet again there will be betrayal with a fling to the hills with her lighter, more relaxed sister. Always assured of my return she’ll make me pay for my infidelity with a new saddle sore. Her lighter sister is not unscathed from our time together it ends horribly as her weight becomes an issue and I take to hacking bits off.
This hill climb season I tried to ease the transition by having an easy TT bike ride each week. I was dutiful for a couple of weeks until swapping the Quarq and wheels over became too much of a hassle. The frame just left as an obstacle to knock over and curse at in the garage.
It took a few hundred meters to lower my self into the aerobars. I clicked through the gears as the speed built. The broken promise I had made myself to carry out some much needed recabling becoming apparent. I fine tune the shifter to silence the chatter.
After a few kilometers the awkwardness seems to ease slightly, never entirely, with brief spells of uncouth shuffling required to get centered. I begin to remember my ques for training, neck down, chin forward, shoulders together. A cursory glance at the Garmin shows I’m solidly trundling in z2.
Ride well under way muscles begin to tire prematurely. My neck feels pinched . I look for solace, familiar ground. I can see it ahead, a hill that must be conquered, refuge from the wind cheating tuck.
Out of the saddle ascending I’m back in a familiar rhythm from the past weeks. It feels safe, me vs gravity. The hill crested it’s time to descend.
Back in the tuck, neck down, chin up, shoulders together. Taking stealthy glances at the speed trying not to move my head. I fine tune my position further to maximise the speed. A floating feeling of weightlessness I’ve not felt for weeks consumes me. The descent levels, I carry my speed. I push on barreling along the road, tyres singing. I’m an efficient compact unit. I do everything I can to hold the sensation of speed. Getting more and more aero. The muscles that haven’t been stretched this way for weeks start to relax. My head now lower, my back flatter, speed higher. My aero mojo has returned and I’m loving it. Nothing will spoil this feeling… except… a f**king silver estate car.