Chapter *11.09*

Small Gains

“Flippin cheek, there's two lads here too,” Josh mumbled.

“Don't worry big boy, you can be an honory girl,” Manda giggled.

“What about me?” I complained in an attempt at macho-ness.

Mand just gave me a look; well okay I didn't press things.


"Okay ladies, gentlemen, this afternoon we are going to concentrate on your skills against the clock. I know some of you are quite accomplished at this discipline, and discipline is a big part of success here, but I think you'll all learn something useful this afternoon." Caroline started the session.

"Shouldn't we have time trial bikes like?" Josh suggested.

"Believe it or not we haven't always had all the fancy kit that you might associate with trialling and whilst useful in your careers you won't always have the like at your disposal. So today we are going to concentrate on making the most of what you will have every time, your heads. So how might we use our head in a time trial, apart from resting our helmet there? Anyone?"

"Pacing?" Sal offered.

"Good, anything else?"

There was an exchange of embarrassed looks.

"What about how we ride?"

"Which gear we're in?" Claire tried.

"Okay, so our pace, use of the gears, come on guys, I know you all try to do this when you're racing."

None of us managed to come up with anything else.

"No? How about the racing line?"

Geez, something that obvious.

"Right then, Drew, tell us about the racing line, as it might affect you in a time trial."

Why me?

"Er I guess it's the fastest route between the start and finish."

"Excellent." Caro grinned.

"That's obvious innit?" Manda pointed out, "fastest one wins like."

"While that's true in principal it's not necessarily true in practice. Let's have a bit of a ride and you'll see what I mean, there's a lay by about a mile and a half up this side of the lake, I'll see you there."


I forgot to say, Steve and Caro have swapped modes of transport so we've got the bus this afternoon and Steve is puttering over the hills on the moped. We set off and assumed a paired formation for the ride along the lake, a comfortable twenty-five – thirty kph. The bus passed us after a couple of minutes but given the distance to the lay-by Caro had barely got it parked before we arrived.

“Okay, we're going to do a bit of an experiment, how are your legs feeling, Drew?”

“Okay I guess.”

“And I think we'll have Sally as you're both doing the tt in Denmark. Okay, the two of you are going to do a short time trial for us, there's another parking area about a mile further on I want you both to ride from there to here, there's not a prize so actual time doesn't matter but the distance you cover does. Sally, I want you to ride all the way about a metre from the curb and Drew you get to pick the fastest line, there is a bit of traffic on this road so ride safely both of you, we'll need to compare your comp readouts afterwards so if you reset before you start, questions?”

“Ut uh,” Sal managed.


“Fine,” I agreed.

“Off you go then, stop at that sign over there.”


The pair of us clicked in and set off, the ride up to the next car park took us five minutes; a car did pass us, the first since we left the hotel.

“You ready?”

“I guess, anything coming?” Sal enquired.

A quick check behind gave no indication of approaching traffic, “Looks clear.”

“Here goes nothing.”

She pushed off and headed back towards the others. I got myself ready and waited for the rest of the minute before setting off myself. I got myself up to a reasonable speed and started planning my line for the bends ahead. Tight to the curb for the first left hand bend, swing out to the white line for the right hander, back to the curb as the road turns left again before moving slightly wider for the straight to the ‘finish'.

I know it wasn't a race but I'd got into the groove almost catching Sal in the process! We turned back to where the others were waiting at the bus.


“Okay?” Caro queried.


“So Sally, how far did you travel?”

“Er one point three five kilometres.”


“One point two five.”

Caro scribbled the numbers at the top of her wipe board.

“If I remember rightly the road goes something like this.” She did a reasonable sketch of the course below for everyone to see. “So Sally rode the testers line, time trial courses are supposed to be measured like this to give a fixed distance, in this case a thousand and thirty five metres. If you read the tt handbook it's in the rules that you should ride in this position on the road.

Obviously people move from this but on traditional out and back courses it was reckoned everyone would indeed cover the same distance as it would even itself out.

Now if I know Drew he used a completely different line, can you draw your line on here for us.”

I took the marker and drew a second line that wobbled about somewhat more than Sal's.

“That's about it I think.”

Caro looked at my artistic contribution before continuing, “So we've already ascertained that Drew didn't ride as far as Sally, a full ten metres. If we look at the route he used we can see he's tighter to the curb on the left than Sally was before really cutting across to the white line through the apex of the sharper right hand bend. He then returns to the curb for the last bend before following a similar line to the finish.”

“It's bound to be shorter, he cut the corner.” Laura put in.

“Anything else?”

“It's an easier line?” Mand offered.

“Easier line, why's that important?”

“You don't have to slow down so much?” Claire suggested.

“Yud need a brick wall to slow Drew doon,” Josh opined.

“Says the Express,” I retorted.


“Er soz Caroline.”

“So if we take the shortest route it'll be faster?” she challenged.

“Course.” Laura agreed.

“Anyone else?”

“Seems logical.” I mentioned.

“Just supposing that the shortest route went like this," she drew a third line on the ‘road', one that hugged one edge then dived to the other and back after the corner. “So if this line measures ten metres less than Drew's would that make it faster?”

She was hinting at something here.

“Drew, why did you pick your line like you did?”

“To keep it smooth and fast.”

“So why didn't you stay on the white line?”

“I thought it'd be faster this way.”

“Okay so Drew picked this line not because it's the shortest but because it's the quickest, there's no point taking a short cut if it takes longer than the alternative. Anyone think of a situation where this really makes a big difference?”

“That hairpin this morning,” I suggested.

“Okay; can you tell us why?”

“Well it's not so steep if you go wide so further is quicker.”

“Is it the same going downhill?”

“Sort of, you can keep more speed on the wider line and it's safer.”

“Thanks Drew, so we might take a different line around the corners depending on whether we are climbing, descending or on the flat. Some of you are already pretty good trialists, others not so and we'll be doing some more work with you all on technique and style. Today though we are going to concentrate on getting you riding the fastest line, not the shortest always.

“We've had mixed success on the international stage against the clock despite a strong background in the discipline, largely due to an inability to adapt. In Denmark you'll be on a closed circuit, you can use as much of the road as you like but you need to use it wisely. It's not going to be a drag strip, you can lose time as well as save it, small gains in a good line might be the difference between podium and also ran.

“Everyone got that? Any questions?”

Made sense to me, not sure about the others but apart from some mumbling no one queried anything.


“Right then, I want you to pair up, Josh and Claire, Laura and Sally, Drew and Amanda. Ride around the lake and look at the road in terms of what we've just discussed, we'll ride round in the bus afterwards to discuss your choices. Back at the hotel by three.”

“My legs'll be worn out before we get to the dance.” Mand complained a few minutes later.

“It's not that bad.”

“Maybe for Super Bond , but for us mere mortals, that ride this morning was hard.”

“I had to use the little ring up those hairpins.”

“I rest my case.”

“Well this is hardly gonna raise a sweat.”

“Looking at the sky we might get rained on though.”

I glanced up at what bit of sky was visible from the valley bottom, “Maybe.”

“We supposed to make notes or something?”

“She never said, guess we just make mental notes, it's not like we can read when we're racing.”

“Good point, so what're you wearing tonight?”

“I've not got a lot with me, I'm sure I can find something.” I've got a half decent shirt and some chinos.

“Me neither, might see if Jess has anything, bet she has.”

Jess, I hope she behaves tonight.

“Watch that pothole!”

Mand's warning broke my daydream; I can do without breaking the bike or me now.

to be continued....

© Maddy Bell 09.05.13

Want to Comment? Click here Email me to Email me

Back to Chapter11.08 Back to The Library On to Chapter 11.10