4up team time trial – Sept 2011

Here is a great account from my team mate Stu Spies on the trials and tribulations of cycling team time trial (TTT). This event was held at Alfold, Surrey on 10th September, 2011. Stu is quite the wordsmith and read on to discover how hours of training and preparation can come a little unstuck with the help of a…..puncture!
My completely one sided, biased and blinkered account of our frankly phenomenal ride…humble too you will note

Surrey League 4up TTT

Team: Tom Wrzecionowski, Roy McGregor, Craig McLean, Stuart SpiesĀ 
Strategy: 1) Wage a psychological war on opponents through use of new media 2) Employ services of power hungry Polish monster 3) Beg borrow or steal every piece of ludicrous kit known to man 4) Train like Satan

For some of our new members I need to explain a few facts about the Surrey League 4up. This obscure date in the calendar happens at a time when most of our members would rather see their heart rate rise at the sign of another danish then the thought of more anearobic shenanigans but there are a few of us who have become OBSESSED by this date. 56 odd km of the usual muscle mashing, capillary popping, tunnel visioned terror, self-loathing, and throwing of oneself into the vortex of hurt that only a team time trial can deliver so perfectly.

As if an individual TT wasn’t bad enough, team time trials require concentration, nerve, trust and fluidity. You have to gauge your efforts against those of your team mates, you need to trust their judgement, keep the rhythm, hide in the vacuum and ultimately apply the power meaningfully and measured. Simple right? But BEFORE all that you need to secure a hallowed place on one the Dynamo teams entering on the 10th!

More than ever the screening process for this particular ride begins in the only proving ground that matters Richmond Park! Admittedly selections are harsh ‘But can you get a disc?’ negotiations abound ‘Well if you promise its not on the 11th cause I got the kids then’ and sometimes the cold hard facts of high level racing prove too much for some ‘How long!? Bollox to that!’ Ultimately though, the wheels of destiny turn and the teams are forged.

Unlike previous years our team ‘forged’ on the basis that if we never got to see Big Tom unleash his 10 000 jiggawatts at some stage in our lives, life itself would rapidly become meaningless. Being on the tail end of that decision had its drawbacks. Tom takes on a certain work ethic in his training that can best be described as, well ruthless. Try take a leisurely meander on your lunch hour through the park, Tom was there, try enjoy a sundowner sub 100watt friday pedal, Tom was there. God forbid you actually organise a team ride, of which there were many, as you will soon note your own lack of desire to be on the front facing the wind, off to the side trying to stay stable, off the back fighting to get on, in the middle…hoping to God everyone has good brakes.

Much training was done, some of it rather comical, alas most of it not. If we were serious about winning this thing we needed to get our heads around the fact we would have to beat Simmonds, Wiliamson, Mason and Powdrill. Lets face it, hard as this may be to swallow these boys were going to be apocalyptically fast.

Race day arrives, all I can think about is that I have a set of brand new 1080 x 808 Zipps on my bike that collectively cost significantly more than the rest of the machine. I’m pumped, yet strangely relaxed and confident, we have gelled well in training and we have trained hard. The countdown: 5! (arg ear itchy) 4! (my handler is wobbling) 3! (breathe…oh shit breathe) 2! (power, guns, smash, power, guns…) 1! (here we..) GO! (AAAARG GEAR TOO HEAVY!!!) Thundering, hammering carnage!

We hit the first left ragged, I’ve nobbed the start nicely to anguished cries from Polish. Back into formation we instantly regroup, panic averted, sharp right, rough road, settle, rhythm, tempo. More shouts, why? Aaah right too slow pick it up. Startline HR was 124, I’m already at 170 and Big Tom wants more power from the engine room! Getting into it the first sectors its rough, twisty and essentially technical for stiff, sloped TT bikes, we fly into a slight left rise PFFFFFFFF, what? Nooooooo, to a volley of Polish swearing our man, our supersonic eastern european weapon of destruction has been eliminated NOOOOOOOO!!

Onwards, all we needed was a Kiwi and the Tri Nations mix of Southern Hemisphere would have been perfect. I somehow manage ‘same again as last year Roy’ no response, concentrate Spies. We tick off lap one as the heavens start adding another aspect to our ride. The far side of the course in now drenched, 90deg left, too much brake BAM, sliding out on my hip as Roy staggers to a halt behind, calmly yelling ‘DOWN’ to Craig and lifting the bike ‘chain chaaaaaain’ Back on, off we go, adrenaline now pumping Craig and Roy in for a hard time, I try use it to our advantage taking a big hit turn before pulling off.

Corners are now pranced around, I’m desperate to stay upright but finding little grip and less control I’m slowing us down, trying to compensate on the flats. Our turns however feel solid, no more excuses, we hit the final sectors as hard as we can, redline and together across the line. Done, I know it wont have been enough as we needed it all to go right, somehow still happy it could have been so much worse. Roy and Craig head off to pick up our team mate whose drenched under a tree far from happy.

‘Dont get too excited boys but I think we got third’ Roy announces, big fat cheesy grins, hell that’ll do, not perfect but not too shabby either! Surrey League 4up done for another year, next time we’ll get you next time!!