My date with destiny started with a leisurely breakfast at the hostel, very leisurely. My start time was 3:15pm so there was no hurry. But with nothing else to do, I got my gear on and prepped the bike for my first TT adventure.
It was beautiful and sunny as I rolled out, relishing my first ride in Denmark. I waited for the Garmin to register that it was on the other side of the earth which it duly did and I reminded myself to ride on the right hand side of the road. By the time I got to the first intersection however, I was already off with the fairies and turned straight into oncoming traffic. Luckily, Danes are accustomed to and extremely tolerant of cyclists riding all over the place and disaster was averted without incident, yelling or tooting. Gotta love these people!
I got to the event village and got my bike checked for UCI approvedness which was the last formality apart from the ride itself. After seeing an alarming number of serious looking TT bikes (and riders) the day before, I was on the lookout for a comforting percentage of bunnies like me. I didn’t see any.
After being perfectly fine about not having a proper TT bike and just being here ‘for the experience’, I started wondering just how many minutes people twenty years older than me were going to embarrass me by. It wasn’t that I was going to be a laughing stock (no stranger to embarrassment) more that I was going to be much, much less competitive than I had originally and foolishly hoped.
I watched rider after rider walk past with their space ship bike, skin suit, shoe covers, legs like baobab trees and Giger’s alien helmet. There simply wasn’t a rear wheel with spokes to be seen. The level of professionalism in this amateur event was truly shocking.
I watched the 75+ aged women roll out and come home in extremely impressive times. Then after the women, the 70-75 men. I thought 30 minutes would be a decent time for me to ride for this quite lumpy course but men in the seventies were going better than that….
As they worked their way through the older groups, times of high 25 minutes were being recorded. That’s an average speed of just over 43km/hr! What the hell was going on here? This was supposed to be a bit soft and pudgy, a bit sloppy, a bit offhand, a bit ‘normal’. These were supposed to be ordinary people.
Not having ridden the course at this point, I could only go by what someone had told me about it. Unexpectedly tough, hilly and technical. So why was someone in their late 50’s averaging 43km/hr on it? Answer me that! I said talking to nobody in particular.
I knew I’d be lucky to average 35km/hr on a course like this. I was just going to have to be philosophical about it. Walking into the start house was a buzz and then mounting the bike, having someone hold you steady while you clipped in and then have someone count down for you was something I’ll remember for a long time. A kiwi fellow who was behind me in the start house said “These guys are the cream of the crop, serious, serious athletes but forget about ’em, just give it everything you’ve got and have a great time doing it. That’s all you’re here for.” Sound advice. The first 9 minutes of the course can be viewed in the video below:
A number of guys passed me on the course. Each time I would hear the whoosh whoosh whoosh of the solid disc wheels coming up behind me. The officials needn’t have worried about me drafting behind any of these guys, they went by so fast there was no way I could have grabbed their wheel even if I’d wanted to.
About one third of the way through, the dark grey clouds that had gathered on my left started dumping copious amounts of rain on the course. You can’t say it wasn’t the full experience. Riders kept passing me and I eventually got to the finishing straight and powered my way over the finish line. If I could look even slightly impressive in those last few metres, people might think I was a decent time trialler. But of course, the announcer commentates your approach and blares out your time moments after you finish. “30 minutes 30 seconds!” Sigh. It had been about 4 hours since I had heard the announcement of a slower time than that. I got given a bag with a water bottle, a mars bar and a banana in it and I made my way back towards the tent to get out of the rain.
I did really enjoy the experience and while not especially proud of my time (average speed 36.58km/hr, it was a great experience and a taste of the time trialling world. It was hugely impressive what these people could do. It is a tough, tough discipline.
The overall fastest time was 23:41 (or 47.12 km/hr) by a Swiss chap. I’ll leave you to think about what it would take to average 47.12km/hr for 23 odd minutes on a lumpy, wet, windy and technical course.
Anyway, time to go and have a hot shower, wring out my gear and try to get it dry somehow before I leave for Aalborg tomorrow.