Trialling Times

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. So naturally it made perfect sense to ease back into riding this weekend by doing a 23km time trial. Of course, not being a total idiot I did do some advance training by taking my husband’s mountain bike for a couple of spins at the cabin, in my flip flops.

What better way to end a 3 week hiatus spent reading, changing oozy bandages and drinking gin and tonics than 40-odd minutes of all-out maximum effort accompanied by lung searing pain. I know, it defies all logic, but there were simply more reasons I found to race, than reasons not to race.

I try not to take the weather personally, but it seems for the last week every time I have tried to get on my bike it has started to rain. So as I left the cabin at 5:30 am on Sunday I was not the least bit surprised (yet no less irritated) to see black skies, rain and gale force winds. I have been hesitant to ride in the rain since my accident, figuring I was nervous enough without the added freak factor of slippery roads. But it was time to suck it up and I was determined to do this race come hell or high water, so to speak.

As far as road racing goes, time trials are about as safe as they come, and these days I am all about safety (having graduated from being all about Polysporin and gauze). Riders start one minute apart and you are racing the clock, essentially by yourself. Other than the rain, the chief hazard on this course were the deer, being plentiful early in the morning, as well as curious and twitchy. I have never heard of a cyclist hitting a deer, but I’m sure it’s happened, and with my luck lately I planned to keep my head up at all times and keep a watchful eye for those cute yet flea-infested menaces that could leap out of the bushes at any moment. In car vs. deer, the car usually wins. In car vs. cyclist, the same is true. I am not sure what the outcome is in a deer vs. cyclist incident, but I suspect is it generally messy and ends in injury to both parties.

What I love most about time trials is that people bring out The Shit. Bikes arrive that are worth more than the cars they are strapped to and there is carbon fibre and spandex all over the place. But by far, my personal favourite time trial accessory is the Aero Helmet. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain cinematic alien species, and supposedly makes the wearer unworldly fast. Or at least their head.

The race itself was two 11.5km laps of Birds Hill Park, just North of our fair city. The weather was like Halifax in November: grey, freezing cold with 40-60 km winds and constant drizzle. I wore my socks on my hands until I grudgingly had to transfer them to my wet and freezing feet just minutes before the start. So much for a warm up. The good news was that there were only 2 of us in my age group. The bad news was that the second person was national champion Nettie Neudorf. Nettie started 60 seconds after I did and passed me like I was standing still 3km into the race. She joked at the end of the race that the wind had been so strong at points she felt like she wasn’t moving. If Nettie was indeed stationery, I had my gears fully in reverse.

Here is a picture of me at the end. If it looks like I am about to vomit, it’s because I was about to vomit. You will also note that in addition to my mismatched footwear (both feet did match while I raced) that I am holding The Giant. Otherwise known as The Bike That Will Not Die. That’ll teach me for riding a crappy 10 year-old aluminum bike. After a tearful Old Yeller-esque farewell, the damn thing was fixed for under $200. On the bright side of things, my new bar tape and matchy-matchy tires look like a million bucks. Thanks to James at Alter Ego for the special crash rate. God knows I am a true Winnipegger and will do almost anything for a good deal, but next time perhaps I’ll just wait for an “end of season” sale.

Speaking of Alter Ego, I am pleased to announce my official betrothal to the AE Team. So look for your friendly neighbourhood Cycle Chick at the races sporting a spiffy new red racing kit. And who knows, maybe a spiffy new red bike to match. A girl can always dream.