“Change of plan for tomorrow.” Dad offered as we slipped onto the autobahn.
“Well I've been asked if you pair would ride the two-up rather than the solo event.”
Whilst I have kinda been looking forward to riding the time trial, a two up is more fun and generally faster.
“Isn't that longer, Herr Bond?”
“Sixty K I think.” Dad allowed.
I looked over to Ron, she looked back, we both shrugged.
“That a yes , then?”
“Works for us I guess.”
“I'll ring them back when we get in.”
It was literally one junction on the motorway but it missed a lot of little lanes, instead of the hour plus to get to Hilden this morning we were back in like twenty minutes.
Back in England I used to do quite a few time trials, a lot of people only ever compete against the clock. Over here they are comparatively rare, anyone specialising in the discipline would have to travel all over to get a full programme. For us, well it's a break in the normal routine, a chance to really show what we're made of with no bunch to hide in, no tactics to worry about just riders against the clock.
Of course the other big difference is that instead of racing up and down a major trunk road at first light, today we don't start until mid day and we are doing two laps of a circuit just to the west of Krefeld (1) that's as flat as a fart with one ten metre ‘climb' each lap. Nothing's that simple of course, we collected Ron and her m um from outside Krefeld bahnhof just after nine, we were at the circuit by nine fifteen.
“Try it on the turbo first.” Dad suggested.
“I'm really not sure about this.” Ron mentioned, eyeing up the carbon t ime trial machine Dad had borrowed for her from the senior team.
“It's easy.” I bragged with more confidence than I felt. It's been an age since I've ridden tri bars even and these pro machines are something else.
At least the turbo is safe, great for tuning your position but not a great help for bike control, hence our seemingly far too early arrival. After convincing my team mate that she could ride the monster and some playing about with position the pair of us cautiously set off towards Kempen. With Dad and Angela following along behind we got a better feel of the bikes, my previous experience with aero bars was a big help, Ron fed off of my growing confidence.
“Okay, try a bit of rotation.” Dad encouraged.
Now you'd think with our racing experience that would be an easy thing but as some of the pros have discovered, it's an art in itself on these quirky speed machines. We did a few cautious passes before Ron felt happy to up the speed again. We had plenty of time still so we pressed on and by the turn of the course at Aldekerk we were both happy enough to start riding closer to race speed.
“Woo wee!” Ron exclaimed as we rolled to a stop back at the now bustling HQ area at Gymnasium Horkesgath (2).
“I think we've cracked it.” I agreed.
I have to say that our almost prototype Cube mounts (3) attracted more attention than their riders, I guess its not every day you see €3500 worth of bike and to see two of them…
Given that our participation in the two up was only confirmed yesterday afternoon I was a bit surprised to see that the official start list included us – even if it was as last team off from the sixty three pairings on the card. We collected our numbers and timing bands, state of the art wireless timing, none of your handheld stopwatches here, then watched a few of the early starters set off. Unusually the solo riders, about a hundred and fifty of them, would start after the team event.
‘Bip, bip, bip, beeeep!'
Team eleven pushed down the short ramp away from the start to much enthusiastic cheering.
With two minute start gaps we still had plenty of time before our slot.
“We really look the part today what with matching bikes.” I noted.
Roni got a funny look on her face, “ You got your makeup bag?”
“I think it's in the car, why?”
“Well we could take it a step further?” she suggested with a gleam in her eye.
“Go on, how?”
“Same makeup, do our hair the same.”
“Wear makeup to race?”
“Don't say you haven't done it, I've seen you and a bit of lippy is only like coloured lip salve.”
The idea did have some merit, but no, I'm a cosmetic free boy.
“Are you girls getting ready?” Angela enquired.
So okay, I'm almost a girl.
We wheeled our mounts onto the start gate and with quickly practiced precision mounted our beasts to await the off. Angela had put our hair into matching braids – Ron's barely reaching her collar whilst mine dangled several inches lower. Our faces, whilst having a minimum amount of gunk painted on wore the same and after Ron found my blue nail varnish we both sported matching nails. Apart from size and hair colour we truly did look like clones.
“Let's do it.” I stated.
The gallery hushed as the screen counted down and we each made final adjustments. Ron will lead off as I'm the faster starter, we don't want to get separated at the start. The MC was babbling something or other but I was already in the zone, fifteen seconds.
Deep breath, a last glance at Ron, nod okay.
‘Bip, bip, bip, beeeep!'
Big effort off the ramp, out of the saddle, forty k, okay then sit and settle down. The first turn was only half a kilometre on so we'd agreed to stay off the tri bars until we cleared the almost hairpin turn. We were both panting by the time we swung around the corner to start racing in earnest.
The road barely has any change of altitude, I think I mentioned that, so we quickly assumed the ‘position', a neat tuck, elbows against boobs. We had our speed hovering around fifty K, with any luck we'd be done in close to an hour. Going off last and having two laps to cover would be a big advantage over the earlier starters, the first of those were already in sight.
By now we were rotating like a well oiled machine, Dad had suggested hundred metre turns to prevent the inevitable fading a longer turn would induce. The wind, for what it was worth, hit us on the right shoulder until Kempen where we took it in the face when we joined the bypass. With the short turns, almost continuous rotation, our speed barely faltered allowing us to slip past team thirty one with consummate ease.
Another change of direction when we turned off the bypass returned the wind to our faces as ahead of us I could make out at least three more teams. Steadily we gained on those ahead, taking our two minute men just before the A40 motorway and twenty six a little after. A few spectators cheered us through the Aldekerk turn and now with the wind on our left shoulders the speed got cranked up a degree or two.
Team fifty nine were the next to succumb to the Apollinaris train but with the wind more behind us the closer we got to Krefeld, further gains seemed unlikely. In fact the Hüls bypass put the wind directly behind us and having pretty much missed the ‘climb', our speed crept up to fifty five at one point. Into Krefeld and with the end of lap one fast approaching, we did overhaul both team twenty seven and thirty, the latter clearly surprised as we swished past just after making the last turn of the circuit.
The road was coned off to separate finishers from one lappers, our well oiled machine barely wavering from our chosen line.
‘ Herauf, herauf (4)!'
‘Dig in girls!'
The shouts were enthusiastic and they always lift me.
“Twenty nine fifty!” Dad hollered as we zipped past.
Not bad but I reckon we can do better this lap.
“Okay?” I huffed on the next pass.
Roni gave a quick nod.
At the hairpin we both came off the tri bars which allowed us to sprint back up to speed before returning to the aero bars. The wind felt stiffer this time, it might just be imagination but there was just no way we could get it even close to fifty. Even at forty to forty five though we continued to take time out of the competition, slowly overhauling team fifty eight as we approached Kempen again.
We started to take shorter turns, almost through and off in fact, as we battled into the headwind on the exposed bypass. By my computer we had about twenty kilometres to go and most of those would have a tail wind of sorts. The longest headwind section up to Aldekerk felt like a right grovel, once or twice our speed dropped below forty!
Despite that we still passed team fifty three going into the village, once through the turn we'll have some kind of tail wind all the way to the finish. More shouts of encouragement then it really was eyeballs out. By now we'd both mastered the art of close formation time trialling and with the speed sat close to fifty five we even passed a couple of kids on their Mofa's (5)!
When the wind slipped directly astern the lift was noticeable and although not fast in motorized terms the sixty kph we reached is darned good on the flat, even if I say so myself! Of course we lost some of the help after Hüls but just seven to go we could afford to put everything into it. I did my best to keep our pace up, Ron matched me pedal stroke for pedal stroke, her improvement this season has been phenomenal.
The five to go board really meant it this time and I allowed myself a bit of a grin as the clock was showing just fifty one minutes elapsed. Another pairing fell to Apollinaris on speed before Krefeld hove into view, forty nine, what appeared to be father and daughter having a go – good for them! Then there it was, the kilometre board and beyond the final turn.
“Last push.” I puffed.
“Beat ya to the line.”
“In your dreams.”
We took the corner fast and wide onto the dual carriageway then simultaneously sprinted for the finish line just four hundred metres away. Okay, that's a long sprint and I could feel my legs going by the two hundred board but there is no way Ron's beating me today. There was plenty of shouting, even in our sprint we were tucked close into each other, the red mist was descending and then we were there. Ron slapped me on the back as I sagged over the bars.
“Think, huh, we'll call, huh, it quits.” She gasped.
I'm sure I got it but there wasn't much in it.
With solo riders still starting we were directed into the school car park which is where Dad and Angela caught up with us.
“Great ride, girls!” Angela beamed.
“Wha, gasp, what'd, huh.”
“Fifty eight fifty nine!” Dad enthused.
I thought we could do lap two quicker but two balanced laps is pretty good.
“Come on, let's get you changed.”
I took a pull on the bottle Angela had passed me and let Dad push me towards the team bus.
My skin suit, well both of our, were caked with salt, the residue of our efforts and if my bra was anything to go by, disgusting, we had tried. I'm just glad that I picked up a spare BH (6) this morning.
“You look like a panda.”
“I'm not alone.” I pointed out as we headed for the showers.
“Woulda thought you'd have waterproof eyeliner.” Ron noted.
“I don't usually wear it for racing.” I pointed out.
“Maybe we should?” she giggled.
“And maybe we shouldn't.” I moaned.
Yeah I can see her listening to me sometime soon!
1 Krefeld is several kilometres north west of Dusseldorf
2 A big secondary school similar to Silverberg where I attend
3 See http://www.cube.eu/en/road/tria/aerium-hpc/ , their bikes look something like this but in Apollinaris colours of cream and blue
4 Otherwise known as up, up!
5 Low powered moped popular as you don't need a licence to ride it!
6 Bustenhalter = bra
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 14.12.2011