The RTTC National Team Time Trial being 11 miles down the road was too good of a chance to miss. Being a TTT, it wasn’t likely to be fully booked so there was a decent chance of getting a ride.
Rob and Al agreed to form a team and away we went. Like most teams I imagine, we had a plan that we should maybe train together before the event. Also like most teams, we didn’t end up doing this till the warm up on the morning. A bit of WhatsApp strategy talk was as good as it got. We also managed to recruit a second Crewe team on the start list, Brandon, Ged and John F we’re lining up too.
I arrived at the HQ early knowing the small amount of concrete parking and how wet the grass would be after 4 days solid rain. Timed almost to perfection as I ended up parked next to Rob on one side and Al on the other.. I picked up my numbers and souvenir mug and started to get sorted..
We had agreed before that we would change from the back I.E the third rider comes to the front and then we all rotate. We knew the shouts we were making at junctions, for holes, if it’s too fast etc and we knew that whoever for the lead rider on the line would take us around the first turns. With that we were ready to roll for a warm up and into a practice.. Within 5 minutes we were up to speed and starting to rotate. It felt fast and smooth. Perfect.
We made our way to the start. The start road fully closed to traffic to allow riders to line out across the road.
The 3 minute gap between each team, with teams seemingly seeded slow to fast in the start order meant that there was little chance of us catching or being caught..
With the 30 seconds to go any nerves were gone and we were ready to go. 3,2,1, Go! I lead off which meant I would take us to through the first junction and get us up to speed. Through the first turn and immediately we hit traffic, another team slowly riding the course. FFS. We navigate through them and stay together as a team. 100 metres before the second turn and I was second in line. Al leads us through the turn at full gas. Over the M6 dodging the shite road surface and we were shifting. First passage of the Three Greyhounds and already a decent crowd had gathered complete with cowbells. As we approached the end of Penny’s Lane onto the A556 we were working well together, averaging over 28mph. It was pretty obviously a tailwind. As we turn left onto King Street this was confirmed, a strong breeze coming onto our right shoulders. Slightly shorter turns into the wind. Half way down King Street a tractor pulled out on us. Trundling along at 26mph. Not much we could do. If we overtake it he would be trying to get past us. Me and Al sit up behind it. The power and HR drop but our speed is no different than before. Mr Tractor’s destination is half a mile before the turn off King Street. We get back upto speed under our own steam, steady, don’t sprint away from cold legs.
Through the finish line for the first time and onto lap 2. The left turn at the Greyhounds again, superbly marshalled and still with cowbells. I’m third rider around and I’ve let a gap go, I’ve got some work to do to get onto Al’s wheel. I get back on and use my momentum to get to the front. Towards the end of Penny’s Lane Congleton CC catch us. I kid myself that they are fresher as they are still on their first lap. In reality the would still kill us on their third lap.
Back onto King Street. Slightly slower this time as the wind and distance take their toll.
Through the finish line and onto the last lap, I’ve managed to chuck a gel down me but I’m feeling it now. The process of sitting on the front, Rob coming past, accelerating slightly to match Rob’s speed, sitting in his draft, Al going past me and then having to accelerate to get to the front again is taking a lot of concentration, but makes the miles tick over quickly. The final acceleration takes a lot of willpower to get out of the draft, the temptation is to hit the ‘snooze button’ and stay in the draft for just a few seconds longer.
Third and final time past the Greyhounds. Much better this time. A mile past the pub and the squad of Sarah Storey with the Backstedt girls fly past us.
Final time down King Street. The wind is stronger and we are all feeling it. At least 1mph slower than last time. At the junction we are baulked by a car. Left and into final 2km now. We fly down to the bottom of Byley bank, steady up to stay together and the full gas to the line. We even manage a team pursuit like line out across the road. 1.12.35. Pleased with that. 25.5mph around Cheshire.
We slow down over the line. Al comes to a complete halt, I roll to the next junction and we all regroup. BIG smiles all round..
The second Crewe team finished in 1:18:01, a solid performance.
Looking back on it, there wasn’t many points we could improve on. We would never get anywhere close to Team Ribble with their 57:45, but we were all more than happy with our performances..