In 2015, I entered the British Time Trial Championship. It was really expensive and awkward to enter.
Usually I do time trials governed by Cycling Time Trials, a UK body. But, this race came under UCI rules – the International cycling body have strict rules about size and shape of bike parts.
I had to spend £400 on a UCI fork and UCI compliant aerobars, to make my bike “UCI legal”
Then when I travelled north to give some meditation classes a week earlier, I forgot my helmet and racing license. I had to ask a friend to ‘break’ into house and post my racing license first class.
I never usually forget helmet, but the one time I’m on Eurosport and I forget – typical!. Fortunately I was able to borrow one from a local member of my old club Otley CC.
Anyway, I got there plenty of time, but, the UCI rules checker was really vague. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to ride or not. 15 minutes before the start, I finally was given an OK. I had passed the vagaries of the UCI regulations
By the time I got to the start line, I was relieved. I felt no pressure because – I knew the standard of competition was very high. It’s not like the hill climb championship, where you always feel there is a chance of winning.
I was joking at the start because there was a clock in front which was confusing. It looked like I had missed the start. I don’t usually joke at the start, but am very serious. But, at that point I felt in the mood for talking.
The relaxed attitude was quite good because at the start, there was a deceptively difficult climb on the motor racing circuit. I took it fairly steady, though quite a few riders overcooked it on this part.
Racing the rest of the circuit was fun. Though, I wish I had done circuit before as it was quite technical. I thought I went down hill quite fast at 45mph, but Alex Dowsett (the winner) went much faster and didn’t brake at all. That’s one difference between an amateur and professional, they are used to racing on closed roads and know the risks to take. By the time I finished, I was a little dehydrated and started to cramp. But, in the end I did very well to finish 7th. It was helped by a few pros not starting (preferring to prepare for Tour de France a few days later.)
Anyway, I didn’t mind that – I finished higher as a result. Given the startsheet, 7th place was really good, and one of the best results of the season.
The interesting thing about the race was that from a mental perspective it wasn’t logical to enter. Why spend all that money and go to all the effort for one race? I spent many times half regretting entering. But, in the end it turned out to be a great experience. Getting on TV an added bonus. I’m glad I just did it. I could have saved £400 towards my pension. But, when I’m 70, I couldn’t have had that experience of getting stressed about whether my bike was UCI legal.