After too long a break, it was great to see some Time Trial action back on Singapore soil. Kudos to the Dirtraction organisers for giving us yet more reasons to buy aero booties and new pointy hats.
I love a good TT. The pageantry of putting on the pseudo sado-masochistic gear, the wide eyed letchery at some kids Lightweight Autobahn disc wheel followed by an hour of frantic suffering behind the sheen of the full face helmet.
My practise runs were poor – ~2 minutes slower than last year – and I was worried. Like any man, I blamed the bike and put it in for a full service the week before the race. A $600 bill (new tub, headset, bottom bracket, cassette and chain) gave me expensive hope that maybe one of those things had been slowing me down. Hope springs from the weirdest places when you’ve got shit form…
Saturday was the Open TT. 36km – 3 times up and down Changi airport straight. With a start time of 10.16, a full face helmet and a smashing looking new Direct Asia skin suit, it was going to be a scorching face melter of a ride. I felt ok and the ride and my HR zones were almost back to where they should be, but I turned in a disappointing 40km average (2km/hr slower than my National ITT) to finish in 51.40. Good enough for 7th in Open only which was a massive disappointment. Pierre Alain managed 5th, Guillame Rondy 6th & Peter Bennett 11th but the day had been dominated by two Kenyan national riders that turned up and put minutes into the field.
After rolling home in full aero kit, my head was thumping and the legs felt dubious. I was scheduled for the TTT Duo with Pierre on the Sunday so some serious recovery and HTFU was required. Massage, compression pants and my first ever ice bath did the trick and by evening I was feeling human.
5,45am Sunday and I spun out to Changi w Pierre Alain. We were scheduled to start at 7.46 and the difference in temperature was noticeable and much welcomed. I timed my warm up perfectly to finish at 7.40 – only to find that we’d then been delayed to 8.05 start which was a bit of a spanner in the works.
The duo is pretty high pressure. In a quad team, there’s the ability to hide if you’re on a bad day but you’re fully exposed in the 2 man and there’s a palpable fear of letting your wingman down. It’s a very thin line – basically if one of you blows up then the race is over for both.
PA is a legend in Singapore for his immense power and ability to suffer & so people were already wishing me the best of luck in surviving the onslaught on his wheel. In TT’s, PAs over-exuberance is also known and so I took us out of the start gate to stop him going too hard in the 1st 2 kms. The two teams immediately behind were Singha-Infinite and Kenyan National riders so pressure was on not to go out too fast and blow up later.
We’d “agreed” to target a 44km rolling average at the start which I secretly had doubts about achieving but we took it up to 44-45km on the 1st lap and held it relatively easily. I felt good – my HR was an average of 172 and was able to share the workload 50:50 with the Swiss precision pain machine. The only negative moment came when my aero bottle popped out at the end of the 1st lap and I was left with no water – however, like a great team mate PA came to my rescue and we shared a single bottle during the race.
Lap 2 went smoothly. we could see Singha-Infinite weren’t really gaining time and so our confidence was building. I started to lose it on lap 3 and PA probably did 70% of the work on the lap – especially the last 3 km when he took it up closer to 50 km/hr at times. We crossed the line in 48.06 – an average of 43.8km/hr which totally exceeded expectations & had lap times ahead of the Quad winners! Amazingly with Singha and Kenyan Nationals, it was still only good enough for 3rd on the day.
All in all, it was a great day and felt like redemption after the disappointing Saturday. With the work starting on Terminal 5, it’s said that this will be the last ever TT on the legendary Changi straight. If so, it felt great to have Team Direct Asia-ANZA deliver such a strong performance on the last ever race here. Lets hope the new road is even better.
Roll on the National TT in November!