Thought I'd do an evening ten. Not a thought I've had for, I think, about 12 years.
But there was an inter-club ten and a bunch of the Bath CC guys were going and it was a balmy May evening, calm and warm. 16 miles out to the back end of Frome is an ideal warmup, too.
Sign-on was hectic. Last ten I did I think there was about 15 hardy souls. Last night conditions were nigh-on perfect and they were having to turn people away: a 7pm start and one-minute intervals gave 80 slots before it started getting too dark. And there were plenty more than that ready to pin on a number, so some missed out. I was number 61. So at precisely 8pm I was rolling to the faded yellow line on the slip road onto the A361. And at precisely 8pm and 30 seconds I was clipping in and being held up by the starter. And at precisely 8:01 I was off. Sprint, sprint, smash it, realise you're going too hard, throttle back, rhythm, rhythm. Breathe.
The U375 course has a gift hill. By Cycling Time Trials regulations the start and finish of a 10-mile course have to be within a mile and a half of each other, so in this case you get to go down the ski ramp onto the bypass, but you don't have to drag yourself back up at the end. Which is good, because it's a steep old hill. I hit 73km/h on the way down, tucked on my aero bars. Then it's more or less flat in a rolling kind of a way, and it's a case of trying to make the most of that slingshot and hold on to as much speed as you can.
I'd set up my Garmin to show me just two things: my heart rate, and my distance covered. I figured that'd probably do. Keep the heart rate above 170 and tick off the miles. The course is straightforward: stay on the A361 for five roundabouts, turn round, come back the way you came. Not so simple that one of the Bath crew didn't manage to head off to Maiden Bradley on a B-road though. Oops. When you're going flat out, even the easy things aren't always easy. And your focus narrows on a time trial. There's very little in your consciousness except for the pain in your legs and your chest and the sound of the wind. And the nagging feeling that your minute man behind is gaining on you. Creeping, creeping up. The carrot of the man up the road and the stick of the man behind you, working together to eke every bit of effort out.
I managed 24:09, which I was chuffed with as it's a personal best by nearly half a minute. So the 9 months of training I've worked my way through have outweighed the preceding 12 years of slowly falling apart. The bike felt good: I was on a 13 Bikes Intuition, which is proper quick in a straight line, and I bunged on some aero bars which it's generally reckoned will save you around a minute over ten miles. I didn't have a proper TT bike or a pointy hat or shoe covers or a skinsuit or anything, but I like to think I made an effort, and the 13 makes a nice sound when it goes fast, if not the womp-womp-womp of a full disc wheel.
And now I have something to aim at...
Thanks to organiser Andy and all the good people of Frome & District Wheelers for their hard work on the evening
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.