The Breckland 12 Hour TT was scheduled just two days after taking my last anticoagulants for Deep Vein Thrombosis which had put a halt to my 2016 season before it even really started. What better way for a comeback than going straight for a 12-hour time trial?! I didn’t have any hopes for a good result given I had only been able to train on the turbo for months with much reduced training hours. The goal was completing rather than competing and, above all, to enjoy myself. And I sure did enjoy myself; I had a ball! My legs felt fine after the race, but my jaw muscles were a little sore from all the smiling (and the odd grimacing).
I couldn’t have wished for a more competitive and fun line-up with Jill Wilkinson, Bronwen Ewing and my lovely team mate Katja Rietdorf, the 2016 12-hr National Champ.
For the first 6 hours I seemed to be on fire (probably due to frustration of being trapped inside all summer). Riding within myself, and despite battling a very stiff headwind on much of the course, my average speed of 23 mph gave a shimmer of hope of getting close to the competition record.
But after 6 hours my neck muscles gave in and riding in the aero position meant only being able to see the road immediately in front of my wheel…. not the best idea, particularly at the Browick end of the course which has quite a few potholes and lumps. The longest training session I had done on the turbo was 6 hours. Perhaps I should have increased it to 12 hours? I certainly would be mad enough to do so. The biggest difference of not having ridden on the road for so long was no longer being used to look ahead. For months I had just been staring down at my Garmin. Perhaps I should have considered a different set up where I can look at a screen ahead of me while on the turbo. Perhaps I should have raised my bars a bit. Perhaps the road feedback and different use of muscles was always going to be a challenge. Who knows.
Anyway, it didn’t matter for this race. I was here to enjoy myself, not to win or set a record. Unfortunately, I was one of the earlier starters and was quite lonely on the road for much of the time it seemed, but it was good to regularly see Katja pass on the other side of the road. There were so many friendly faces along the course and I was surprised that so many people knew my name. It really helps to get so much encouragement, both from those racing, their supporters and all the club marshals and helpers.
My husband Chris had to work through the weekend so I couldn’t cash in on his promise to support me for up to three races per year. Instead, my friend Rob came along and his army background really came to the fore with super slick support resulting in 100% confidence in each and every bottle and banana hand-up.
Since the DVT scare I have been much more careful to stay on top of my hydration. I consumed a staggering amount: 2x800ml of electrolytes in my camelback vest, 10x800ml of either energy mix + electrolytes or just very strong electrolytes, 1x 500ml of flat coke, 1x 600ml of chocolate milk, 3x500ml of rice pudding, 3 bananas, 6 (?) gels, 2 bars … and still being caked in salt and not needing the toilet shows how much of a heavy sweater I am. And it wasn’t even a hot day!
For much of the day it was so close between us. Eventually Jill won with a phenomenal distance of 272 miles (so close to the competition record of 277 miles and it wasn’t an easy day….!!), followed by Bronwen with 270 miles and I unexpectedly managed to set a new PB with a distance of 265 miles. Katja rode really well, but in the last few hours the fatigue from a long season of racing (with some great achievements) got the better of her and she stopped the clock at 239 miles*. There were of course some great rides by the men too, but it was nice to see such girl power at the Breckland 12 Hour.
What a great event, what a day and what a nice way to come back to racing again with a big PB! I wish the season wasn’t nearing its end, but I already look forward to a great 2017 with my Born to Bike teamies who I owe for keeping my spirits up.
* These are the provisional results
@ photos courtesy of Danny Watkins and Rob Gardner