Monday, 28 July 2008
Coward of the County
I'm exhausted, that was my best, and hardest TT ever. The Southern Counties Cycling Union’s centenary 100 mile time trial. I rode this event last year in five hours, thirty minutes and forty three seconds. It took me several days to recover.
This year, A crocked shoulder (hadn’t ridden the bikes since a 50 mile TT one month ago) and a bad cold meant I'd set a target finish time of 5 hours 15 minutes. Mrs Snoop and others had advised me against racing. I wasn't going to miss the start of the 100th SCCU 100, no sirree.
Music tends to worm its way into my head on the longer TTs - some kind of weird way of concentrating on something... Today's offering was "The Coward of the County" Couldn't shift the bloody thing all race.
Started riding on my TT bike. Forgot to pin number to arse - timekeeper not happy. Luckily I had the shoulder number on so they let me ride (failure to start due to complete rider stupidity could have been very embarrassing).
“Evryone considered him the coward of the county.
He’d only stood one single time to prove the county wrong.
His teammates named him Snoopy, he raced in black and yeller,
But something always told me they were reading Snoopy wrong.”
Sections of the course are familiar as the local 25, 50 and 100 follow some of the same roads. As I set off I quickly remembered how hellish the 100 course is though. The first ten miles is lumpy, and me no like. No rhythm, gear changes all the time. I pushed through this section and settled into a good pace. I managed to hang onto a 20mph average for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth ten miles. I knew I couldn't keep it up but it was good (for me) to clock 60 miles at that speed.
I got held up at the lights on the A24/A272 junction. Must've lost a few minutes there easily (it was 37 seconds when I checked later).
Mrs Snoop met me at Bolney on 67 miles and I swapped bikes. I didn't think my shoulder would hold out for the remainder so I wanted more position options. I don't think I'd do that again mind. I started getting some really (and I mean really) painful muscle twinges as my body tried to adjust. Thought they would force me to stop but I ironed them out after a few miles.
Sure enough I began to fade as the roads got worse, more undulating, my speed slowly ebbed away. It was piggin hot by now too and like others I was feeling it. At the 75 mile mark I reckoned I could just squeeze my target time and so I ground on as best I could. The last ten miles are a complete kick in the teeth. A rotten undulating country lane nightmare. Country - don't talk to me about it.......
“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you’re old enough to understand:
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”
I ain't quittin’ pa... My feet were on fire, needles of pain blasting out of every nerve. In the intense heat my head was spinning and I just grit my teeth and tried to push as hard as I could. Two miles to go and I hit the final stretch of dual carriageway. Knowing the end was in sight I dug deep and floored it. I had just enough left to sprint for the (county) line.
So pleased to be off the damn bike, seeing some of my teammates quickly lifted my spirits and we had a few laughs about how bloody hard things were today.
I was keen to know how I did so went into HQ and there - on the board.... 5.10.43. So - I PB'd by 20 minutes dead and I beat my target time.
For the last time, I let Kenny Rogers back in….
“I promised you, dad, not to do the things you done.
I walk away from trouble when I can.
Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek,
And papa, I sure hope you understand:
Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”
As I left HQ I saw many folk hobbling away. It had been a mega effort to finish in the gruelling conditions today, there were no cowards in this county.