Just like the Strathpuffer back in January, this wasn’t my idea. No way.
It all started a couple of weeks ago. Unusually I had my girls on a Sunday which coincided with the Scottish National 25m TT, so I took them along with me for a grand day out. Some folk seemed concerned that would be a hindrance and a distraction. Nope. Quite the contrary, they were pretty useful, making coffee for my GTR teammates Chris and Lewis, offloading left over banana cake for the “after party” and also keeping former Junior Scottish Road Race champion and RT23 rider Ashleigh Fraser busy too. And anyway it didn’t seem to affect the result, I think it probably helped.
Unfortunately though, the start just east of Forfar on the A90, was literally miles away from HQ, which was a shame as my eldest, Katie, wanted to watch the race as Chris and I made our way out of the car park. Not this time I said, but next.
“When’s next time and why can’t I race this Dad?”, was the double-barrelled question, to which I didn’t have the exact answer, “We’ll speak about later”, I said, trying to gain some kind of race focus which was difficult as I just knew given the chance, she would quite literally pitch up on the A90 and ride the dual carriageway to Brechin and back, regardless. Why not? She’s her father’s daughter after all. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
After the race we bombed down to Glasgow to meet Emma (of Glencoe TT fame) and her cycling friends. One of her club-mates, Rob was a track coach and Emma had arranged a session on the boards at the Chris Hoy Velodrome. It was ace fun, though I had my typical moments of frustration. My girls watched on and part of me hoped they could get a shot, but in my heart of hearts I really wanted them to watch in the hope it would feed a desire – not the other way round.
On the road back up ‘Shire, conversation shifted back to cycling. “So what’s that race you did today and what’s the medal for?”, said the youngest daughter. This is gold (well actually silver on this occasion) and it keeps me chuckling and grounded. Katie playing the older sister role did the explaining about Graeme Obree’s record being broken and how John is now doing well, like his sister Katie, and it was their mother, Louise, that we had a good chat with after the podium presentations "after party".
“Oh“, said the younger. Cogs whirring, suddenly i-Pads/Pods/Phones and shopping in malls suddenly became less interesting.
“So Dad”, said Katie, “Can I do a time trial?”. Music to my ears. I can die now a happy man…
But I’m still here to tell the tale of last Tuesday evening. 10 miles, Drumoak horseshoe, 6:48pm. My Puffer partner-in-crime, Mike Dennison gave her an early start (and the number 3 – yay!) so she could see the mechanics of the TT process. Mike Cheney who’s looking like the rider to beat in the Evening League was on timekeeping duty and was taking photos of the cool, calm and collected Katie. There was a nice buzz about the start line, less serious and focussed than normal and I was beside myself, I’ve never been so excited, not in even with my own races!
Katie got called to the start. She looked at me and said “Dad, I’m now nervous“. Hilarious. One minute to go and now she’s getting twitchy! Awesome. “Good”, I said, “It means you’re ready”.
As we approached Drumoak, the Thomsons and the Amundrud’s were making a healthy racket shouting and banging what seemed pots and pans. As faster riders passed by, some gave her a big-up. As I was in pursuit, I asked her to change down a gear on downhill section, but her gears are restricted, so we have to make do with extra spinning, which I guess is really the point.
At the half-way point I asked how she was doing. “Ok Dad” and then tried to start a conversation. “Erhm, you really shouldn’t be able to talk Katie”, I said, but found it funny all the same. It doesn’t matter, she was going to get well under her target time which we agreed would be to beat double my best time on this course.
35:34 to be exact. Superb. But more importantly than anything else, did she enjoy it?
Of course she did and was already asking about the next one. We made our way to the crossroads to cheer on the last few riders coming through, looking out for Andy, Emma and Ashley as they pushed their way up the shallow ramp towards the finish along with seasoned youth TT rider Cameron Stromberg and debutant Isla Long with Dad (DTCC Youth Head Coach Sam) in hot pursuit. Ashley was also riding his first ever TT – and after the following night’s coaching session he now knows where the finish line is (heh heh).
And that’s what wonderful about time trialling, so many friends, clients, juniors. Boys, girls, men, women, Veteran champions, Ironmen and Ironwomen (such as super couple Rob and Vera) were out in force on Tuesday night. It’s a brilliant discipline, because it forces discipline, focus and control and it’s more sociable than you think. It’s a personal test. Can you go faster? Did you leave it all on the road? What should you do next time? It’s honest and it asks honest questions of you.
I guess that’s why they call it the race of truth!