Seven things every TT rider should know


Strange backsides and rusty safety pins are a dangerous combination

Riding a time trial isn’t complicated. In fact, simplicity is part of the appeal. There are a few things, though, that anyone should know before entering the race of truth.

Know… how to pin on someone else’s number

At some point, a random stranger will ask you to pin on their racing number. Since the correct place is over the backside, not on the back, this means grabbing a chunk of someone else’s arse-flesh and trying not to stab them with a safety pin.

In the unlikely event the person in question is a woman, she will probably say something unhelpful like ‘Don’t be shy, there’s plenty to get hold off’ in a brisk, matronly tone of voice. In the even more unlikely event of the woman being young and attractive, under no circumstances show any sign that you enjoy the experience.

Know… that you don’t need a flash bike

Fast legs beat a fast bike every time. That doesn’t mean that you won’t go quicker on a better, more expensive bike, but there’s nothing to stop you riding a normal road bike in a time trial.

Fit a pair of clip-on tri-bars, and you’ll knock around 30 seconds off your time for a 10-mile TT. You could spend hundreds, if not thousands, trying to shave off a similar time.

Or turn one roundabout early if no marshals are looking.

Know… that you will want a flash bike

Need and want are two different things. I know I don’t need a Ridley Dean. I also know I probably won’t go much faster if I buy one. But I want one, and that means my bank balance is probably about to shrink by a sum which normal people would spend on a new kitchen.

The disc wheel I bought a couple of years ago doesn’t make me much faster, but I wanted one. It’s a really nice Zipp disc wheel, and it cost £1000.

First time out I beat my PB by 13 seconds. ‘That’s almost £100 for every second,’ the missus said. She did not consider this good value.

Know… where you are going

Reasonably basic, and not especially difficult you might think. Ride that-a-way for five miles, turn around at a big roundabout and come back. It’s not orienteering, is it?

You might not need a compass, but you do need your wits about you, especially on a course that follows minor roads rather than a dual-carriageway. I once followed a big green sign to a caravan rally by mistake. It ruined my race, but at least there were no shortage of nice old ladies to make a cup of tea.

Know… your excuses for going slowly

As any experienced time trial rider knows, there are dozens of reasons for a disappointing time, almost none of which will be the rider’s fault. If you have an early start time, try ‘it was too cold’. For a late start, ‘the traffic was too heavy’. Or there’s my personal favourite, which I have used so many times it’s almost a catchphrase, ‘it’s windier than it looks’.

You could try honesty, but ‘I haven’t done enough training and opening a third bottle of wine last night was a bad idea’ is not the excuse of a serious amateur athlete.

Know… how to get free cake

This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try. The post-race tea and cake are an essential part of any TT rider’s routine. Usually the tea is free when you hand in your race number, but you may have to pay a few pence for your slice of malt loaf.

So long as the cakes look homemade, the trick is to say to the lady behind the counter ‘Hmm, they all look so good. Which ones did you bake? Oh, I’ll have one of those please.’ Trust me, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get it for nothing.

After a few years of racing, once you’ve realised you will never win anything and can look forward to 30 years of propping up the midfield (if you’re lucky), all this super-keen nonsense about riding fast courses is put aside and you pretty much chose your races based on the variety and quality of the baked goods on offer. If you can replenish lost calories free of charge so much the better.

Know… there may be nudity

It’s not often that my missus will ‘support’ me at a TT. That’s partly because what I see as support she sees as sitting in the car outside a village hall in the middle of nowhere.

She is also put off by the things she has seen. Specifically, she doesn’t want to look at some old codger’s todger.

After one race, I was looking forward to giving a providing a fascinating hour-long analysis of my 23 minutes of racing on the drive home. All Mrs Bike Chimp could talk about was the number of old men changing in and out of Lycra, not caring that a young lady was observing their tackle-out antics. She hasn’t been near a pickled walnut from that day to this.


One Response to “Seven things every TT rider should know”

  1. i just came across your blog; this post made me chuckle – accurate and funny.

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