Riding a 100 mile Time Trial

National 100 mile Time Trial Championship 2021

So the last time I rode a 100 mile time trial was for my Kona prep in 2017.

After enjoying a 25 mile TT in Llandovery I thought I’d enter another TT event, as they are great training, and I haven’t raced for such a long time I thought this would be a good lead in to my main event, Ironman Staffordshire 70.3.

What I didn’t realise when I entered the event was that it was a National Championship event! Usually the course in Wales is a Welsh championship, so there are less riders and the standard isn’t quite as high!

CTT have partnered with Spindata who sent out predicted finishing positions, which put things in a bit of perspective 😂

The start list had 27 women out of 120 entrants (about 22%) compared to the last Welsh Championship I did, which had 12 women out of 83 entrants (about 7%)

This is really good to see the numbers going up, I have noticed that CTT have been posting more imagery of women, and they have been under pressure to hand out equal prizes. These things do work!

Pre Race

So this was the first time I had gone away on my own, since January 2020, (thanks to COVID lockdowns) and I was a bit anxious leaving, but once I got on the road I felt positive. My power numbers have been pretty good recently, and I thought I could possibly improve on my past effort, even though I’ve not been training as much as I did for Kona! But this event was at the end of a pretty hard training week.

Arriving at Abergavenny I made a trip to Waitrose to buy my breakfast and dinner.

Instant Oats and a yoghurt for breakfast, and a poke bowl for dinner.

I didn’t really want to go back to the hotel, so went for a short walk and ate my food on a bench. After that I decided to drop my spare bottle at the lay-by so I didn’t have to do it in the morning. I had a terrible nights sleep, as I was nervous for the next day, but it’s happened before so it was all ok!

The ride

My start time was 6:39am so I left the hotel at 5:45am, signed in at Race headquarters, realised I’d forgotten my pins, and as the organisers were running short on pins I made a mess of my arm numbers which flapped the whole way around!

It was a short ride to the start so I got my nutrition on my bike, and rode over. I was starting in-between lots of women who were faster than me, so expected to get overtaken pretty early, and regularly.

As we rode to the start there was a torrential downpour, so had a bit of, on or off, with my glasses. I opted for on, once the rain had died down, and I could see again. The weather was like this most of the day, a few very heavy showers and a bit of sunshine, the roads were dry for some of the time!

The course is a lapped course but it was different from previous courses, and had a bit less dual carriageway 🎉

We started down a minor road before getting onto the dual carriageway then riding to a turn off, which was undulating and mostly downhill, so it gave us a little bit of a break mentally, then back on the dual carriageway to a roundabout to turn around and repeat.

As predicted I started getting overtaken within the first 5 miles. Mentally I was fine with this, as I knew from the start sheets that this would happen. I caught a couple of riders too, as I settled in to my goal pace.

I didn’t feel great starting, it felt harder than I thought it would to hold my goal power, and my shoulder was stiff so I was pretty uncomfortable. I also had to battle some fairly negative thoughts about the distance and also of the event. It all came flooding back how the last part is such a struggle mentally, to keep pushing on, so I refocussed on 5 miles at a time.

I’ve set my Garmin to lap every 5 miles as it really helps to break down the event into smaller chunks. Honestly though within the first 10 miles I felt like pulling out, I was hoping that I’d get into the rhythm and just try to ride one 5 mile lap at a time.

Once I’d done 2 laps of the course, for some reason I thought the description of the course had said it was 2.5 laps, so at this point I got over excited, thinking that I didn’t have to ride my least favourite section of dual carriageway again, but a quick bit of maths made me realise that I was wrong and I had to ride down it again, another thing to mess with my head. I quickly moved on and got back in the zone! The last 25 miles is always so challenging, I was getting uncomfortable my legs were sore and I often wanted to stop pedalling.

Race Analysis

Garmin data here, previous data here,

So looking at the data, the 2 rides are very similar. The course was different so there are slightly more power drops in 2021, there were some sections where you could freewheel and recover which I made the most of!

Normalised power and average power were exactly the same but for a lower heart rate in 2021, so looking at things overall, it was a pretty good day out, considering I haven’t ridden that far for around 2 years. My official time was slightly quicker too, so I got a new PB over 100 miles.

It shows that endurance doesn’t just disappear if you don’t ride long frequently, and the cumulative effect of staying consistent with training over the last 4 years also comes into play.

There is also a very important psychological aspect that makes a difference.

100 mile Time Trials are tough, there is not much distraction from all of the thoughts going around your head, so you need strategies to manage them, which is great practice for long triathlon events.

If you can ride a long, lonely time trial, and manage everything that goes along with it, then when you have spectators and the buzz of a triathlon event, it will feel a lot easier.

Have you ridden a long time trial?

What did you learn?


Results here

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