Timetrialling was a bit of an after thought for me in 2015; at least in the competitive sense anyway. I thought I would have a go at the British Best All Rounder (BBAR) competition, requiring me to race a 50mile, 100mile and 12hour, but I didn’t want to travel far to hunt out the fastest courses or buy expensive aerodynamic kit designed by NASA engineers that promise to save me fractions of a Watt at re-entry speeds. Before 2015 I hadn’t raced in a skinsuit, a TT helmet, or used a disc wheel. In fact, I had only ever entered 1 open TT event. My overall finishing position is not particularly important to me, only how my recent times compare to my last. My BBAR ‘campaign’ was simply to ride the distances and see how I do, in turn allowing me to consume huge volumes of porridge.
However, this viewpoint gradually shifted over the course of the 2015 season. Like an awful tv talent(less) show, here is my 'journey'.....
H50/8 10-05-2015 (Strava link): The first race was a 50mile TT on the H50/8 course. I was borrowing a friends disc wheel (Zipp 900 tubular) and his skinsuit (a club skinsuit which didn’t fit me brilliantly), and my bike was set up for long distance triathlons and far from ‘aggressive’. The ride was going well, until the 40th mile when the freehub of the borrowed wheel started slipping under power. This gradually got worse over the next few miles and I started to think I wouldn’t even make the finish line. I limped over the line in 1hr 49min 43sec (at which point my ass cheeks immediately went into cramp, but that’s probably a story for a different kind of website). I came 5th overall (1st place was Adam Topham with 1hr 42min 18sec) and was very pleased with my performance.
H100/88 24-05-2015 (Strava link): The next race was the 100mile TT on the H100/88 course. Still borrowing my friends disc wheel (but with working freehub) but now with my own skinsuit (an Inverse skinsuit in club colours) and TT Helmet (Catlike Chrono, but without the visor fitted). During this ride, I realised that a 20mile section of the Bentley course is about a decade overdue for resurfacing. The consequence of this awful road surface was some fairly severe gooch pain and me questioning if I would ever be able to have children. I remember being chuffed with my 3hr 45min 50sec time, until I saw Adam Topham of HWCC posted a time of 3hr 34mins 11sec, blowing my mind in the process.
H12h/88 14-06-2015 (Strava link): With the knowledge of the poor road surface from my previous 100mile TT, I was dreading the prospect of 12 hours of targeted gooch torture. I thought it would be wise to wear a second pair of bib shorts under my skinsuit, to try and minimise the pain. This tactic didn’t work, in fact, all the padding seemed to make it much worse. The whole day was a journey through different pains, including the moment Mark Holton (the eventual winner) overtook me at such a pace it felt like my brakes were rubbing. Despite some low points (hours 6 to 8 particularly so, where I considered giving up), I came through and rode 292.15miles, 2nd place to the winner Mark who rode an incredible 316.7miles. There is nothing like a total trouncing to bring me back down to earth and confirm just how average I am.
MOVING GOAL POSTS
Having completed all three events, and largely thanks to my above-average 12 hour TT result, I was overall first in the BBAR tables. This sounds better than it was, as most people (particularly the fastest) had yet to complete a 12 hour TT and so did not appear in the tables.
Over the next month or so, I dropped to 3rd, then 5th, then 7th, etc as other riders improved their times. A friend of mine told me he was going to be riding a ‘fast’ 100mile TT, on the A100/4 course near Derby. We could lift share, and the date suited me, so I decided to get my entry in.
A100/4 5-9-2015 (Strava link): This course was certainly fast. I remember stopping in the car before the event to try and find a suitable position to leave some drink bottles at the side of the road, and there being a noticeable draft from all the passing lorries. The conditions were ideal, apart from a total lack of passing traffic in the middle 2hrs of the race; normally a good thing while riding a bike, but not when you want to be sucked along. I finished the race in 3hr 37mins 19sec and in 4th Place, 4mins behind 3rd place professional Triathlete Joe Skipper. I was slightly disappointed I wasn’t a bit closer to Joe’s time, but looking back there were definitely some areas of improvement both in my nutrition on the day and bike set up.
I now had a fairly respectable 100mile and 12 hour TT result under my belt and moved in to 6th place overall in the BBAR competition. Now my 50mile TT result from the H50/8 course was starting to look fairly out of place next to other times posted by fellow BBAR contenders. I looked in to the remaining 2015 season 50mile TTs, of which there were only really 2, neither of which looked particularly quick. I decided to target the B50/18 course, which I had read had a course record of around 1hr 45min (depending on the source I looked at). I thought even if I could knock a few minutes off my 1hr 49min time, it could make a difference to my BBAR position.
B50/18 20-9-2015 (Strava Link): The course was definitely not as fast as I was expecting, with one very questionable turn point that required crossing lanes of traffic. I had pulled out all the stops for this event (see this post about my TT bike set up) and so was going to give it my all and hope to at least knock a minute off my current time. 20mins before my start time, I noticed the disc wheel (tubular) had a slow puncture. I tried to fix this with some ‘pit stop’, but it went everywhere except in the tyre, including all over myself, car, bike frame etc. In danger of missing my start time, I decided to put as much air in as I could and ride to the start. Lady luck was obviously on my side, as the tyre managed to retain enough air pressure to complete the event, and post a time of 1hr 44min 20sec, second to Adam Topham with a 1hr 40min 08sec time. Again, Topham showing true class and consistency, with another great result in a different league to my own.
FINAL BBAR RESULTS WITH A TWIST
So concluded the 2015 BBAR ‘campaign’ and a 3rd place overall BBAR standing. I was extremely proud of myself, particularly as the season wasn’t particularly focused and blighted with equipment failure. But there was another twist in the tale….
Without going in to the detail, Richard Bideau, who had provisionally won the 2015 BBAR, mainly thanks to his (record breaking) 100mile competition record he got during 2015 (~3hrs 18mins), had his result annulled as it was discovered the 100mile TT course was actually....... ~99.8miles. Unfortunately for Richard, he had not undertaken another 100mile TT and so was removed from the competition. This meant I moved in to 2nd Place (although only by technicality as Richard could probably ride an MTB 100miles quicker than my time).
I attended the CTT Champions night on 16-01-2016 to collect the BBAR 2nd place award. I was expecting to get a generic plastic cycling medal, but was really pleased to see a BBAR specific medal complete with a nice embossed presentation case! Some photos from the night are posted below.