ERC Midweek TT Series - Re-evaluating my life choices

2 September 2020

And so picture the scene, I slaved away over the winter (give me some dramatic licence here) to plan a super-fantabulous TT series for you all in 2020. And what happens? A global pandemic. Typical. Bloody typical. Weeks and months go by from spring to summer and now to autumn before we can race again, and guess what? A flippin’ monsoon hits. For a few hours East Lothian became the Amazon Rainforest – the comparisons may not end there, as some may say certain parts of the East Lothian population are as civilized as ancient Amazonian tribes.

My partner intuitively asked me earlier this evening if I was racing or not, I said that ‘I had decided to act in my series organiser role and organise rather than race’. She immediately, and rightly, called bullshit. I didn’t race because I had looked at the forecast and could easily envisage that I would have needed a periscope more than a Garmin 510 tonight.

Upon arrival I could sense racing was in the air, though something had changed, this pokey midweek TT had an air of professionalism about it tonight. How dare you bring some skill, preparation and application to such an event…. The rollers were out, I even spotted a Tacx Neo. A Tacx Neo, in Tranent, that’s worth more than most cars around there!

Graham, Ken and Steve had done some great work in setting up and making sure we adhered to the rulings surrounding Covid and events. Cones were up, masks were on and the hand sanitizer was out. Thank you to you all for being sensible, adhering to the rules and treating the precautions in good spirit.

Tonight was the first time I had met Ken. Meeting him after he had just put out the signs (illuminating the A199 which was just what was required on such a wet and gloomy evening). I knew Ken was the man for the job, he came not only with a clipboard. But, a clipboard with a waterproof cover.

I decided to don Steve Canney’s utility high viz gilet, the snazziest high-vis jacket I had ever seen. In theory, it’s the kind you could use if you ever wanted to dress up as Bob the Builder for a fancy dress party. You’d totally ‘own it’ - the amount of available pocket space and breathability the gilet had to offer would put your costume far and above any others. Yet this evening the high-vis was in combo with a very catchy big bobble hat. It’s the ‘look’ for 2020.

In terms of racing, some of that actually happened tonight. I should probably talk about that for a bit. It’s been a year since I’ve been able to pull out the same old, well-worn, crowd pleasing lines. Lesley Marshall was our first rider off in slightly drizzly conditions but once you got about 10 riders in, that drizzle turned into a deluge.

We had a string of young riders tonight. Oliver Blyth, James Burnett, Alasdair Easton, Luis Ryder, Innes McDonald all under the age of 15. 15! 15 I say! Born after 2005, these guys won’t even know what a VCR was, look strangely at a CD player or understand that your tele used to be as deep as it was wide. Luis posted the best time of the under 15s with a 24:31, that’s pretty good going I must say. But even better was 12 year old, Innes with a time of 24:44. I might as well hang up my spray on lycra right now, because at 28 I don’t stand a chance.

Beth Morrow was the fastest women of the night with a time of 25:42, even if she did try to take a little shortcut until the high-vized-bobblehatted marshal sent her the right way. She beat out Nina Tomlin (27:07) and Lesley Marshall (31:58). Claire Weller couldn’t take part tonight due to her bike being in the workshop after a mechanical failure on a 100 mile TT – serves you right for thinking a 100 mile TT is a good idea I say.

Once we had got the first 15 or so riders to the turn then the rain really hit. At this point I realised my bobble hat was definitely not waterproof so ran back to the car to get a brolly. It didn’t do much good in the end. Not long after I was wetter than a fishes wet bits. My trousers were stuck to my legs. My shoes were portable paddling pools. And I was seriously re-evaluating my life choices – after a day of work, standing on a road junction of the A199, in the pouring rain & shouting to lycra clad cyclists that it’s clear carry on. I thought I had everything going for me, I’m young, in good shape, a chartered accountant, reasonably intelligent and yet found myself there, in that situation. I quickly snapped out of it though. I realised I could have been out there racing, and could only imagine the amount of cleaning my bike would need after tonight.

Road bikers, do take this with a pinch of salt, the sheet which we marked out who was on a road bike ended up in about the same state as a pad of A4 would be in Atlantis. Kyle Thomas was our fastest road biker with a 22:28 and 8th overall too. Not fair, that’s far too good. Luis Ryder along with Simon Titmuss (24:53) rounded out the road biking podium.

So to the big hitters. Elijah ‘I’ve ridded approximately 8000km all at 35kmph since lockdown’ Kwon came 5th on the night with a 21:46. Which is a fabulous result. At 16 I am excited, bloody annoyed and a smidge scared at what he could do in the next few years. A result which is made even better when in 4th place, only a second faster was Alan Dean with 21:45. I’m a bit dismayed by this, maybe I shouldn’t have shouted to Alan that he was about 8 seconds up on Sandy at the turn but what do I do from now on? Alan has been defeated. Maybe come 2021 I’ll just forget this ever happened so I can carry on writing as normal.

Sandy Waller was 3rd with a time of 21:19. A great result for Sandy. One for him to plug into his spreadsheet to understand the co-efficient between his time tonight, power, heart rate, stack height, saddle height, saddle for-aft, extension length, wind speed and air density.

Ciaran McSherry was the 2nd fastest rider on the night and fastest ERC member giving us a new winner of the Ian McCulloch trophy! Well done Ciaran, that shoutout on the ERC Racing Facebook page for a disc wheel obviously worked. I’d make the trophy engravers aware of this result sharpish because they’ve probably already prepared Alan’s name to be engraved on it.

And so the fastest time of the night went to Murray Lawson of the Spokes Race Team in a time of 20:57. Well done – you’ve already got Sandy both hating you and curious what CdA you achieved to get such a time. It seems we have a slight changing of the guard - over the winter various op-ed pieces will be written whether Murray can carry the burden of such a victory into 2021, is Alan a ‘fading force’, will Sandy keep his saddle height the same after it’s been set by an expert bike fitter for more than 3 days, and will Chris Borthwick keep remembering to compliment me on my race reports (Hi Chris, thanks again).

So there we have it 2020 ERC midweek TT’s are over the night they began. I look forward to implementing my 2020 plans in 2021, seeing more junior and women competitors and whoever signs up each week having as much fun as can be had by pelting it down the A199 on a bicycle.

Many thanks again to Ken, Graham and Steve for helping out this evening.

Be sure to check out Bob’s pictures too

See you all in 2021,