A Moment in TTTime
The Team time trial (TTT) a race in which teams of 4 riders from the same club or team race against the clock. The winning team in a TTT is determined by the comparing the times of the third-finishing rider in each team (though the relevant finish position can be otherwise specified in advance by the race organisers). This means that each team will try to get their first three riders (at least) across the finish line in a tight group.
It's one of cycling's most coordinated displays of power and teamwork, where individual targets, goals, power numbers are replaced by teamwork, smooth/efficient riding, planning and good communication.
Cycling NSW hold a State TTT Championship every year, and it has become one of our favourite events.
Here's a summary of what it looked like from the PLCC team car behind the racers at the 2018 Titles in Nowra by Nash.
It was a cold winter morning at HMAS Albatross & I had the privilege of driving Shannon Goard's bright green Skoda Octavia with "PLCC01" plates behind our first Parklife team to ride the 40km course. There's a spare bike on the roof, & spare wheels in the back. Brad Bird was next to me with the camera & Steve Elliott in the back ready to change a wheel or fix a bike if there's a problem.
The team we followed were called "The Jungle Crew". There was Gordon Allan - A young Para Cycling National Champion & record holder. He had the TT bike, disc wheel, and a carefully-tuned position that was so fast he just has to clip in to the pedals and he's doing 40kmh.
There's Nathan Comans - The calm, cool head who would call the shots. Probably also the team's style captain with that on-bike finesse & ability to never look like he's actually trying. Renee Everett - Queen of the Jungle Girls & strong motivator. a V12 engine under the bonnet (which would come in handy later). They call her "smasher" in Centennial Park.
Carlijn Kerdijk - "Fresh" from a long break from riding, but willingly obliged to come down for the weekend and race because that's the sort of thing she does for her club.
The riders rolled out of the race village on to the Braidwood Highway, and they began steady, but fast smooth turns just like they'd practiced in the 2 or 3 training sessions done together. As everything looked under control, Steve yelled some encouragement out the window & we sped ahead to get out of the car. Birdman took a quick few photos, then we jumped back in, floored the Skoda (as I'm sure Shannon wanted us too) and caught back up in a matter of seconds.
The team were working well. We were impressed by Carlijn's ability to push well into the red zone, and never miss a turn on the front. Renee's encouragement to the others was impressive, and Gordo & Nath's attentive qualities to keep everything together were key. As the road kicked up into a 6% climb near the half way turn-around, Carlijn would surrender as the intensity cranked up, but at the turn around, we'd discover that that intensity had meant they had almost caught the Penrith CC team in front of them. They were only 5-10 seconds from them after starting a minute behind. Incredible.
Penrith were also down to three riders, two big tall guys and one race-fit looking women, all rolling strong turns. The way back home is predominantly downhill until 5km to go, where they would have to tackle some undulations and a sharp u turn. Our jungle crew were so motivated by the catch, they went straight past Penrith which was exiting for us in the car. If you could imagine Steve, (sitting in the passenger seat with his Ray Bans on and arm resting on the window channeling Dave Brailsford from Team Sky) gave the crew in the Penrith support car a cheeky nod and wave.
The other team didn't seem to like the fact that our team caught them, so after a km or so, they went back past our guys, and started to pull away. The bigger guys on the Penrith team had noticeably increased the pace. They were good on the downhill. Whilst they were going faster, they had lost a little composure. Their light female rider seemed to struggle with the increase in pace on the fast gradual downhill run home. Both teams were averaging 45km+ at this point. This is the real fun part if you're on the bike. With sanctioned and controlled conditions unlike our regular training roads in Sydney, the high speed and high efficiency make this part of a TTT an incredible thrill as i'm sure anyone who has done one of these will agree.
When the gap between teams was over 100m, we pulled to the side and waved the Penrith car back through, to go back up to their team, they gave us an equally arrogant nod & smile. We were all enjoying this..
Our team had hardly conceded any time, remaining only 100m behind Penrith and in the last 5km, when the road kicked back uphill again, that's when the fireworks began. The Penrith team were still strong, but one of the guys had 'blown a gasket'. They were slowing down and had fanned across the road a bit. Our team had to make one final pass and this one had to be the knock-out blow. They knew this.
Enter our secret weapon - Renee Everett.
After a couple of long, smooth turns from Gordo and Nath to reduce that 100m to nothing, both in a sleek aero tuck Renee would ride the last 5% climb to the final U turn in the big chainring with every bit of energy she had left. The boys were on the wheel still close and composed. The pass was made. This seemed to affect the other team & they became distanced and they lost ground right away.
The cars played musical chairs again, this time both of us making a shrugging shoulders gesture. We'd have a laugh with these guys later on after the race.
Our team rolled in to the finish with a small lead. We parked the car ready to follow the next team, walked back to our trailer/tent set up, hugged, high-fived & exchanged war stories while Shaneo and Kieran handed around cold soft drinks and water.
They rode the 40kms in just over 1hr, and got on the podium of the "mixed" class they were entered in, but really, that's not what the morning was all about. It was the camaraderie & sacrifice from riding as hard as they could for each other that would put smiles on their faces and make them all closer friends because of it.
Long live the Teams Time Trial!