If you’re thinking of having a go at a time trial, just go for it and see what you’re made of! Jonny Ackroyd
The destination for my second time trial was Dishforth in North Yorkshire. The event had no para cycling category, Maggz and I were the only para cyclists there and were just mixed in with the men and ladies categories. Unlike my first TT this one was 25 miles in distance. Because there were no other para cyclists I didn’t really see any competition for me other than myself, I’d come to terms with the fact I would be the slowest rider there before the event started and I was fine with that. I was just looking at it as another experience and good practice for me. I had set myself a goal in my own head to finish the 25 miles with a faster average speed than my first TT. I knew this was ambitious because there was another 10 miles to do this time, however a few things gave me a little confidence leading up to the event. Firstly this time it was in my home county, the mighty Yorkshire, and only a one hour drive from home to get there. Secondly it started at 2 in the afternoon, I felt this would suit me better than a morning start. Thirdly the sun was shining (a stark contrast to Cumbria 2 weeks ago) and last but not least in preparation for the event I had fitted my bike with Tri bars, these allow you to sit more crouched with your arms out in front of you making your body shape far more aerodynamic. I got to the HQ nice and early to sign on and have a bit of a tactics talk with Maggz, she asked me what my goal was, I told her I want to finish faster than the 15 mile TT 2 weeks ago, she confirmed my optimism by telling me “your first goal is to finish!” Team talk over I went back to my truck to set up my bike, it was at this point I realised to my horror that on the journey to the HQ one of the forearm pads on my new Tri bars had come off and been lost in the wind, this only left a metal plate with spiky Velcro on it for me to rest my right arm on! I found an old glove and some gaffer tape and bodged myself a temporary pad together. Once again the car park was full of time trial specific bikes, and I only had my normal road bike, only now with added Tri bars with one arm pad. I warmed up on my other new purchase, a pair of rollers. After my warm up it was a 2.8 mile ride from the HQ to the start, unfortunately the start had been delayed by 15 minutes and not wanting to cool down too much I kept riding round doing an eventual 8 miles before the race had even started. I was number 54 so should have set off at 2-54pm. I finally got ready to go and set off giving it everything I had, the course was just over 6 miles up an A road round a roundabout and back down this made a 12.5 mile lap which we had to do twice. Going up the first 6 mile leg I felt great and really quick, in fact I couldn’t believe how quick I was going keeping an eye on my speedo I rarely dropped below 25mph and even got above 30mph at one point, I didn’t really know where the speed was coming from but was enjoying every last bit of it. Once I got to the roundabout and made my first U turn my bubble was quickly burst, I was now riding into a strong head wind and realised that was the reason for my fast pace in the first 6 miles as it was behind me pushing me along. I now had to fight against the wind for 6 miles going a lot slower it was really tough going. Nearing the end of my second 6 mile straight I was already exhausted and desperate for a rest, and only half distance completed, but there are no rests in time trials just relentless peddling! I was also really sore and numb in the saddle area due to being in a totally new position the Tri bars put you in that I wasn’t used to. For a second I thought once I turn around and get the wind behind me I can let off a little and catch my breath, however I quickly told myself to shut up and push on as much as possible to try make up the lost time into the wind. So I had another fast 6 miles giving it everything I had. I got to my last U turn and prayed the head wind had died down a little for my last 6 miles but it hadn’t, I started to feel a little sick by this point, maybe I hadn’t timed my pre race pasta so well this time?! With just 4 miles to go the wind picked up even more and my leg and lungs felt like they had no more to give, it was brutal and felt like riding through treacle. I was eventually sick a little bit, but I was determined to get to the end and had no time to stop for vomiting, so I just turned my head to get it out over my shoulder and carried on. I pushed with all my might but felt sure the last 3 to 4 miles were too slow for me to end up with an 18mph+ average speed. Maggz had set off 50 minutes before me and had very kindly waited for me at the finish line, unfortunately I was unable to hug her at first as I collapsed in pile on the floor and needed a good 5 or 10 minutes before I’d caught enough breath to talk. Maggz and I had a good hug and a chat about the course before riding the 2.8 miles back to the HQ, pretty slowly I must add. Once back at base I heard a lot of riders taking about how tough the conditions were and how many of them thought a lot of the times were comparatively slow. I ended up with a time of 1 hour 21 minutes and 39 seconds giving me an average speed of about 18.4 mph. I was really happy with my time and had achieved what I wanted to do by being faster over this 25 miles than my first 15 mile event. I realise I’ve not painted a pretty picture of time trailing, and it’s definitely not for the faint hearted, it’s seriously tough with no rest breaks what so ever, however everybody is really friendly and you get a great sense of achievement when you finish, even if like me you’re nowhere near the front. Once the results came in it turned out I wasn’t in last place I was quicker than one other rider by 35 seconds and there were 5 riders who didn’t finish. Chances are those 5 riders didn’t finish due to mechanical problems, but I’d like to think they gave up because it was too tough! I will certainly be continuing with time trials because I love the challenge and pushing myself, and I hope to keep improving and getting faster with each one. Big thanks to Maggz, Wendy, Wyn and Gemma for their continued support and encouragement and of course the Douglas Bader Foundation! If you’re thinking of having a go at a time trial, just go for it and see what you’re made of! In the meantime let me know if you see any cheep Tri bar pads on eBay!
Thanks for reading, Jonny.
Here are a selection of photographs taken of Jonny and Maggie in action on Saturday
All at the DBF are so grateful to Jonny for his support of the charity. Not just for surmounting the extraordinary physical challenges he writes about so clearly above but for taking the time afterwards to send us these great blogs.
It is fascinating to get an insight into any sport and humbling and inspiring combined to learn how deep people are prepared to dig to achieve their personal goals.
Jonny did just that against all the odds; 8 miles cycled before the start, wrong kind of bike, missing arm pad, head winds, prosthetic leg! Despite all that, he managed to overcome exhaustion to achieve his goal of ataining an average speed of over 18mph over the 25 miles (tough to sustain that for 25 miles, let alone 12 of them being against a strong head wind) and getting a faster speed overall than his first Time Trial, which was 10 miles shorter. It’s probably also true to say that being the only para cyclist and having to compete against yourself requires far more determination than having another competitor to challenge.
Fantastic achievement, Jonny! We are collectively so proud of your efforts and of the inspiration you are giving to others through them. True Bader spirit!
If you’d like to know more about Team Bader Cycling and Team Bader Amputees, or think you’d like to give Time Trialling a go, please contact us using the form below. Please select the correct heading for the subject so we can direct your query to the right person.
As you will see from Jonny’s report, the challenge is as tough as you make it in a way, but the rewards from the point of view of satisfaction and a sense of achievement are worth the efforts. If you join Team Bader or Team Bader Amputees, you will be given a warm welcome, advice and bags of support whatever your ability and experience.
The benefits for amputees and other disabled of taking part in a sport have long been known. I don’t think you can overestimate what sport can give you.
Martine Wright, double amputee, 7/7 survivor, Paralympian and pilot – Ambassador to the Douglas Bader FoundationTags: amputee, Bader Amputees, double amputee, Jonny Ackroyd, Maggie Biggs, Martine Wright, Para Cycling, para cyclist, prosthetic leg, Team Bader, Team Bader Amputees