Journals Riders

Abi Smith journal: return of the time trial

Rider journals 2021: Abi Smith #03/April

Abi Smith and nine other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental in 2021. First-year senior Abi rides for Great Britain Cycling Team’s Senior Academy this season. In her third journal entry, she discusses the return to time trialling…

Having not had the chance to go out to Belgium for racing during March, no Mallorca training camp and two cancelled Nations Cups, it been a pretty slow start to the racing season for me. It’s hard seeing others that I’d usually be racing against kicking off their seasons in exciting, attritional classics races, while I’m slumped on the sofa watching them on TV, sobbing into my chocolate Easter egg(s)…

Well, not really, but you get the point. 

Just being able to pin a number on, dust off the aero helmet and hear the satisfying ‘click’ of the Di2 shifting the gears across a whizzing rear disc is a small boost for morale

In between moaning about all of this, however, there is a silver lining starting to glimmer through. With the slight easing of restrictions and time trials beginning to start up again here in the UK, it gives me a chance to work on positional alterations, pacing strategies, pre-race preparation and the like. Also, just being able to pin a number on, dust off the aero helmet and hear the satisfying ‘click’ of the Di2 shifting the gears across a whizzing rear disc is a small boost for morale. At the moment a win is a win no matter how small!

Cleveland Wheelers Hilly TT 25th April. Photo:

The saying ‘getting the first one out the way’ was very much the case with the opening TT of the season. The bike was sparkling but the legs were rusty. The combination of being under-dressed for the cold, panic pre-ride antics and general cluelessness all amounted into a below average TT. Not the best start but ‘onto the next on’.  And, as hoped, things have been improving ever since, gradually getting better and better from one TT to the next. By trial and error, learning from mistakes and finding small improvements through changing certain variables, I’ve been able to use my time wisely to accumulate plenty of valuable experiences to draw upon later down the line. For example, I now know how to deal with heavy snowfall one minute to blinding sunshine the next at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning!

The pinnacle of the year (so far) came on the highly anticipated weekend of the 17th and 18th April. It was the 10 mile L1015 at Levens followed by the V236/1 near Thirsk. Your average CTT geek won’t need me to tell them that these are two courses with the potential for fast times. Nothing compared to the G-forces that some riders are rumoured to have felt on the infamous V718 but hey. All that was needed were good weather conditions, good legs and lots of photographers lined along the grass verges forcing me to get my head down for the shots. All factors in play. 

East lancashire Road Club (L1015), 17 April. Photo: Raymond Bracewell

*Get to the point Abi* so, yeah, anyway, I was pretty chuffed with my performances. Continual improvements in power and some decent times to boot too – things on the way up. TTs alone probably aren’t going to bag any road contracts (special note to any Directeur Sportifs reading this: hi, hallo, bonjour, hola, hoi…) but thankfully I have time on my hands and so can continue to build up my fitness and experience to aid future success. They’ll no doubt also be a handy tool for if and when road races begin again in the summer. 

Having cycling as my ‘job’ effectively this year has, on the whole, been pretty cool. I know I am very privileged to have some of the opportunities and resources that I do, and am fortunate that I enjoy the training as much as the racing. However, I’ll admit that my patience is not infinite. I can’t wait to get out and compete in some international racing, and try and achieve the big targets I have for myself this year. But for now at least, I’ll happily take a beating in a local crit or a Men’s 2/3/4 road race any day.

Featured photo: Cleveland Wheelers Hilly TT, 25 April.

Find out more

Abi Smith journal #2: the art of rest and recuperation

Abi Smith journal #1: new starts

Rider journals 2021: introducing Abi Smith

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