Now I’ve been time trialling for a few years….but I’ve only ever done 10s and 25s before…never a 50 miler.  So after deciding it would a be a good idea to have a go at one.  Foolishly though I decided it’d be a good idea a few days after Darren had sent off entries….so I begged and hoped and wished…and though a series of lucky planet alignings…I managed to get my name on the start list.

So it suddenly hit me I was going to have to do this thing now.  Now I’ve done lots of tt’s before…so this should just be another one….but quietly I was freaking out that I’ve never done this distance…I’ve never ridden that long at that intensity….and that I wasn’t going to be fit enough to be doing this.

This morning rolled on…and spent the morning getting the car loaded up as per the normal routine and heading out to the course start.  The WLC often uses a course out near Great Missenden….it’s a few variations on the same road depending on whether it’s a 10m/25m/50m…and though it’s a straight road with a couple of roundabouts….and you’d think you can’t get lost….lots of people have (including me!) by taking a wrong turn at one of the roundabouts.  So made sure I knew where the course was.

Once I got out there…I went and picked up the number and started getting dressed and putting all my things together…and by the time I was about ready to head to the start line…it looked like I was the only rider left….so quickly pulled myself together and headed to the start line.  Gareth Williams was starting a couple of places in front of me, and I saw him starting out wished him the best….and 2 minutes later…I was up.

So there’s that classic mantra in time trialling – don’t start too fast….don’t start too fast…don’t start too fast…and given I didn’t fancy spending 2 hours wishing I’d followed it….this time I really did start easily.

So started out…up the hill…and it wasn’t too bad…it’s really counter intuitive…but since it’s a longer event, it’s like you get permission to take it easier….so sounded good to me.  My plan was to take it easy for the first half…and if I had any in reserve I’d bring it out in the second half.  So the first half..I thought I was taking it easy…and the second half…well guess what I didn’t have any in reserve.  10 miles rolled by…and then 20 miles rolled by…then 30…then 40…and….before I knew it….there was only 10 left to go.

The last 5 miles….was coming up…and I knew by then…there wasn’t going to be any consequence if I just threw everything I had into it…so pushed out all I could…passed a couple of people…pushed harder and harder…and tried yelling my number as I went past the time keeper….but could barely speak….and I’m not sure anything intelligible even came out of my mouth.

So my legs where just jelly….definitely sore, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to walk when I got off the bike.

Hobbled my way back to the car….pulled myself off the bike….and did a bit of a cool down on the turbo….and 10 mins later….things started coming back to normal.  The HQ was only about 30 metres down the hill….but took that warm down before I think I could even walk properly.

Thankfully…by the time I could get down to the HQ…most of the results were up…Gareth had come in with 2:04:56 (missing the benefits of a skinsuit, that will certainly bring the time down!).  Scanning down the results I was pleased to see that I had managed to finish my first 50 mile, I’d managed to break two hours…and to top it off…even managed to come in with the quickest time with 1:53:59.

So the usual gossip followed…the people attending these are a friendly bunch…and though it’s nice to do well in these things…the key thing is everyone is out to beat the best time they’ve done on this course…and you all spend 50 miles right at the limit…and this brings a camaraderie around the pain we’d all shared.
Special mention here to TCC’s Helen Gravatt as well – who marshalled at the event.  These events don’t function without these guys – and it’s nice to see a TCC member helping out!
So….the West London Combine (WLC)…they’re run on nice courses..not especially fast…but quite fair…and it’s a good bunch of people out there.  The next one is on the 21st of August.  It’s a 25 mile one…and if you haven’t tried one before – it’s a great distance to do.  With the shorter ones…you are over your limit for the most part…but a 25 mile one you get to tone it back a bit.  So maybe if you’ve not had a try at one of these events….get your road bike together…and have a go.  You don’t need so much as tt bars to enter and ride.  So maybe think it over – and drop Darren an email when the registration comes out.

PS Remember I mentioned the course is easy, but it’s still easy to get lost?  Today two people that managed to shortcut the roundabouts – knocking 2 miles off the 50 and sadly disqualifying themselves.  After 48 miles it’s got to break your heart!
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