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Five miles (or eight kilometers) later


This article by David Martin first appeared in Racing

I had been planning this for some time. The focus of my competitive season will be the midweek time trials Venues have been announced, the clocks have gone forwards and there is enough daylight in the evenings. Someone has to come last and there is no reason why it shouldn't be me. Having made the appropriate domestic arrangements, I checkmy passport before crossing the Tay Bridge and head off to darkest Fife.

7.5km Time 13 mins. Pulse 186 My legs are screaming stop but my head is telling me that I might dip under 14 minutes if I can keep this up. Focus on position, focus on the lungs - no point - they are already at capacity. Breathe. Keep those legs moving. 36kph. Will I do it. I can see the timekeepers and pushers off and it seems like is should be downhill but is certainly doesn't feel like it.

The meeting point for the five mile is at the forestry commission car park. For various reasons we arrive quite early - a few other people around about as lost as we are hoping that it is the right place. Its time to start faffing - put the bike together and get some drink inside me.

7.0 km How can I keep going. I am right on the limit - pulse is racing, I can hardly get enough breath in me. My stomach aches - I can't get far enough down on the bars as my gut gets in the way of the knees and thighs. do the best I can. Focus, focus, keep it going - not far now.

The bike goes together without much of a problem, though the front brake seems a bit off. I adjust the cable, noticing that it is somewhat frayed and making a mental note to replace it. My track pump is at home. Fortunately the tyres were only pumped up a day or so ago so they are still at 110ish PSI. Not only is the track pump at home, the spare tub is as well.

6km. Over the railway line. This should be downhill, why am I going so slow? Fight like mad to get the speed back up over 20mph. Fight harder and it slowly climbs. I want to die. I want to crawl off my bike, into a corner and die. Why is there wind? It should be a fast downhill cruise, not a desperate struggle into the wind. It should be downhill. Why isn't it. Why am I so slow?

Time to roll around gently, after watering the landscape. It is a beautiful evening. The wind seems to have dropped to a gentle Northerly and the few clouds in the sky are few and far away. Some folk I know arrive and I blether for a minute or two before heading out. The bike is rolling well. I am spinning at 28kph with no effort.I head round a loop and turn back towards the car park and it is about the same.

5.5km. 39kph. I pass my minute man. I feel better already.

Sign in. I am quite early so I can get myself near the top of the start sheet. Off third. Pay my fees, fill in my license details.

4km. The roundabout. My stopwatch says 8 mins something. Or does it. Lack of oxygen is making my brain incapable of simple math. There are no cars to hinder me so I make a not particularly fast turn and can catch a breath or two before getting back onto the tri bars for the return leg. I thought the hardest part was over. I was wrong.

Milling around before the start. I head back to the car to organise my son with the camera. We head to the course. He takes a shortcut, I take a longer route round. A suitable photo position is spotted and I set up the camera. Time to warm up some more.

3km. This is hard. This hurts.My legs do not like this. My lungs do not like this. I cannot keep this up. Back onto the hoods but keeping a crouch as I cross the railway for the first time. 28kph. Desperately slow. I try to kick some speed in and get back to 30, 31, 33 as the road rises gently towards the turn.

Drop a gear or two, get some effort through the legs. Head down to the start. It is not a pleasant route. The road is a bit narrow for it's speed and there are serious accidents on it every year from speeding motorists. The pusher off has not arrived. I notice that I still have my water bottle in my jersey pocket, so stash it behind a 'Cycle Event' sign for collection after I finish. I am starting to feel nervous. Starting? No. I am starting to feel butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth. It's only a race for crying out loud.

2km Pain. It is starting to hit. I am one quarter of the way round, I am holding 40kph and the aero bars seem to be fine (depsite it being the first time I have used them at speed).Pain. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Gear seems just right.

Much faffing. 34 starters meant delays at sign on. Words are exchanged as this will make it seriously close to twilight by the time the last riders finish. We MUST get started soon. The verge is narrow and clogged with bikes. The officials arrive, ten minutes late for the start. The first rider is off. I trip my stopwatch at the off, and reset the speedo for distance. Heart rate is a relaxed 105.

1km. Bang. It hits you. The adrenaline rush is like hitting a wall. Bang. Bang. Bang.Big quad muscles fight the bike up to speed. These handlebars are so much stiffer than the old ones. Gears are fine, wheels feel great. Bang bang. Gasping for breath Focus. Shift hands onto the aero bars. Focus on keeping this going for the next 7km.

I roll up to the line. Clip in. Brakes on. The pusher off wonders what all the gizmos are on the bars."If you can look at those, you aren't trying hard enough." Thirty seconds. The bike is held by the pusher off. I clip the other foot in. Fifteen seconds. Out a bit. Balance comes right. Ten. Five four three I forget to take deep breaths two one

0km GO!

5 miles later. And as I cross the line, I glance down at the speedo. pretty much 14 minutes dead. Not just the time either. I freewheel to get my breath back and retrieve my water bottle from behind the sign. A slow spin back to the car chatting to others along the way who are warming up. To the car. A litre of liquid disappears very fast. Post-race euphoria is starting to hit as I get changed, stashing the number to one side to return later. Back to the course to pick up my son. The light has totally gone by now and he has managed to fill the memory card as well.

Back to the car park. The last finishers are rolling in. Hand over the number. Listen to the results after a polite but firm reminder that people should get there sooner to sign on. The winner (11.04) is a surprise. 2nd (11.10) and 3rd equal (11.18) are not. I wait, and hear my time called. 13m59s. I am very pleased. Under 14 minutes for my first race of the season, and that on the back of virtually no training. My fastest ever road TT.

And if anyone happens to find a pair of lungs in the Ladybank area, could I please have them back.


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