Riding in a bicycle timetrial

Discussion in 'rec.sport.unicycling' started by mark williamson, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. Hi all,

    I've been riding since last summer, and have spent a lot of time since
    then hanging out on these forums learning stuff and chatting with
    people. Thought I'd share my experiences during an experimental ride
    yesterday. I'd be interesting to see if anyone else has done similar
    rides, although I'm sure many others have done far more extreme stuff
    :)

    Yesterday I did my longest ride ever - 10 miles "competing" in a
    university bicycle timetrial. I'd never ridden any kind of timetrial
    before - even on a bike - so doing it for the first time on a uni
    (whilst riding a long distance by road for the first time) was quite
    scary. The contestants ranged from the super-serious with carbon fibre
    bikes and teardrop helmets, through to random street / mountain bikes
    who just fancied a long ride, with the slowest riders being myself and
    a friend (probably - we may have come ahead of some bikes who didn't
    finish ;-)) on our unis.

    I was riding a Nimbus 29er (which has an enormous Big Apple tyre, 125mm
    cranks), my friend had some kind of 28-inch from UDC with a skinny tyre
    and shorter cranks (115, I think).

    The ride was 10 miles along a single carriageway road, quite wide,
    speed limit of 60mph. The road was not that busy - with cars, vans and
    buses thundering past at high speed, we were grateful for that. Due to
    there being racing bikes all over the place, the traffic was mostly
    behaving quite carefully and passing at distance - many of the cars
    passed fully on the opposite side of the road. Some tooted their horns
    or waved in encouragement, whilst many of them just goggled on the way
    past - unicyclists with race numbers on their backs are apparently
    fairly uncommon.

    I was allowed a standing start, holding onto one of the race marshals.
    This favour is also offered to bicyclists so that they can engage their
    toe-clips before the start. I'm not sure it gave me such a speed
    advantage, but it avoided freemounting under pressure in front of a
    large crowd ;-) I fell off for no obvious reason after about half a
    mile, fortunately there were no cars / bicycles near me at the time.
    After about a mile into the race, a path reappeared by the road, so I
    decided to ride on that. It was fairly lumpy and slower to ride, and
    it stopped suddenly after about 150m :-( I walked across the verge
    back onto the road, found a gap in the traffic, freemounted and rode
    off.

    After about 3 miles there is a fairly steep hill to a bridge over the
    motorway. Being up on a bridge above such an enormous road felt
    strange, and a bit exposed. Fortunately I didn't have to deal with
    much traffic on the bridge, which led out into an exposed straight,
    with strongish gusts from the brisk wind. Riding from here on was
    fairly "routine", with cars and racing bikes passing me periodically.
    The racers gave shouts of support as they passed me in either
    direction. Somewhat further down this road, my uni-ing friend passes
    me - coming back. He's on the return leg of the course; he started a
    minute before me, but has pulled out quite a lead. I notice he's
    pedaling enormously quickly, wobbling alarmingly and is being overtaken
    by both cars and bikes. Cars are overtaking me too at this point, so
    there's a minute or so of surreal uni-induced traffic congestion until
    we pass each other!

    The half-way point itself is a large roundabout - I had been intending
    to walk around it, but there were actually very few cars so I decided
    to ride. I stayed close to the outside of the tarmac, signalling right
    past the exists until I'd gone all the way round. The cars were very
    considerate, although the slow speed of the uni seemed to mess up their
    distance calculations - they gave way to me me even when they had
    plenty of time to drive off. But maybe they just wanted to watch :)

    It was nice to know I was finally heading back - it was many times
    further than I'd ridden before in distance terms (although not
    necessarily in terms of time).

    The journey back was fairly uneventful, and I returned to the motorway
    bridge without incident. The hill down from the bridge proved
    something of a problem - the ground where I live is so flat that I'm
    not used to controlling my speed on hills. I recovered twice whilst
    there were cars passing me, but then unexpectedly I totally lost it
    further down the slope - I flew down the middle of the carriageway,
    landing on my right leg (which buckled, having been already weak, and
    then exhausted from pedalling against the camber of the road) and then
    skidding through the grit. I quickly got off the road, quite glad
    there had been no cars nearby! I wouldn't have ridden the race if I
    didn't think I could be safe among traffic, but this would have been
    quite a dangerous fall if there had been other vehicles around.

    I walked some way down the verge, pushing the Nimbus, allowing my leg
    to recover. At the foot of the hill, I had space to freemount, and had
    recovered enough to hop back on after a few attempts. I had 2-3 miles
    left to ride. After getting back to pedalling, although I noticed
    after a while that my right hand was covered with blood.

    I was very glad to see the 1 mile post - it appeared unexpectedly, and
    was very welcome encouragement. I passed the finish line to cheers
    from cyclists and the other uni, as I was simultaneously overtaken by a
    bicycle at extremely high speed. I'd ridden 10 miles, including a
    period of 6-7 miles non-stop. My friend had finished in 59 minutes, my
    time being 10-15 minutes longer (we don't have the full results yet).
    I would have liked to be faster, but didn't fancy pedalling so fast,
    especially whilst sharing the road with motor vehicles.

    All that remained was to get home and find a pub. We'd arrived in the
    race-organisers car. We hoped to get home by a public bus... hoping
    that we'd be allowed to take our unicycles onboard! We stood for 15
    mins in a partially-wrecked bus shelter, hiding from the biting wind as
    best we could. The bus driver had, in fact, passed us both during the
    day since we'd been riding on his route. He was friendly, and let us
    carry the unis on board and took us back to central Cambridge, and the
    highest density of pubs per square mile in the whole of the UK :)

    Although all of me ached, and the cuts and grazes needed cleaning up,
    neither of us had sustained any major injury. The ride was great fun
    and I'd love to try it again some time. Probably not for quite a
    while, though ;-) Maybe next time I'll take a coker!

    Mark


    --
    mark williamson

    Dave: Just a question. What use is a unicyle with no seat? And no
    pedals!
    Mark: To answer a question with a question: What use is a skateboard?
    Dave: Skateboards have wheels.
    Mark: My wheel has a wheel!
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  2. joemarshall

    joemarshall Guest

    Sounds cool. Was that on the A505?

    You guys did pretty good times for your first long ride on a 29er. I
    know what you mean about not being used to hills too, I learnt riding
    by Parker's Piece and round there, down the river etc. and the first
    time I hit a hill it certainly was hard. There's a nice ride to
    Fulbourn (up to the windmill), Wilbraham and round somehow to Newmarket
    which I can recommend, that has some hill practice on it (only
    Cambridgeshire hills but better than in town), I think you can get a
    train back if you're tired by Newmarket.

    By the way, I've lived or worked in three places that all claim to have
    the highest number of pubs per square mile in the UK. Twickenham,
    Cambridge and Nottingham. I think York and Chester claim this too.

    Joe


    --
    joemarshall

    my pics http://gallery.unicyclist.com/albuq44
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  3. It was on the A1303, near Bottisham. It's 6-7 miles from the centre of
    Cambridge, otherwise we would have ridden out there. We didn't fancy
    doubling the riding distance - turns out that was a good decision, my
    legs ache!

    My hand is not too bad. It bled so much because I was cut by the grit
    on the road, rather than because of any huge injury. It's healing up
    nicely now, thanks!


    --
    mark williamson

    Dave: Just a question. What use is a unicyle with no seat? And no
    pedals!
    Mark: To answer a question with a question: What use is a skateboard?
    Dave: Skateboards have wheels.
    Mark: My wheel has a wheel!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    mark williamson's Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/11301
    View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/47681
     
  4. Thanks for the hints about other rides! We'd been thinking about going
    out for longer rides so once we've recovered maybe we'll check them
    out! Going up hills isn't a problem for me, but the movement required
    for downhill riding is ... tricky ... I can't quite persuade my legs
    that it's something they want to do ;-) If I don't concentrate I
    release the back pressure and start zooming off again!!!

    I'm glad our times don't look too awful :) Alan had ridden 9 miles on
    a 20" with 125mm cranks once before (!!!!!!!!). I'd never ridden more
    than a couple of miles, although some of my rides had been quite long
    in terms of duration. Impressively, Alan had only just got the 29er,
    having borrowed it a few weeks previously in preparation for the race.
    I ride mine a mile or so to work on a fairly regular basis.

    The final result is: Alan took 59 minutes, 3 seconds. I took 72
    minutes, 33 seconds - which is on the faster end of the range I'd
    expected for myself. For comparison, the fastest road bike was 24
    mins, 15 seconds.

    Amusingly, this was a "Cuppers" race, which is a kind of team event.
    For those not in the know (I wasn't until looking up the scoring system
    yesterday), this is where your college (within the university) receives
    points depending on how well you do, meaning that all people from one
    college are on one "Team" in the race, as well as competing for
    personal glory. It turns out there was only one other person from my
    college in the race, so my token 1 point for finishing last doubled our
    team score :-D

    I've also heard the pub density disputed. In fact the actual pub
    density has probably changed since I first heard the claim (although
    whether it was true then is debatable). It's high enough to satisfy
    hungry, thirsty unicyclists - we found ourselves some real ale and huge
    portions of food :)


    --
    mark williamson

    Dave: Just a question. What use is a unicyle with no seat? And no
    pedals!
    Mark: To answer a question with a question: What use is a skateboard?
    Dave: Skateboards have wheels.
    Mark: My wheel has a wheel!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    mark williamson's Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/11301
    View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/47681
     
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