What’s in a name – the Willie Rafferty 10m TT

What’s in a name?

Willie Rafferty was a devoted cyclist and important member of the St Christopher’s Cycling Club. So much so that the club honours his name by holding a memorial 10m (16km) Time Trial on the roads he loved. The race is one of the most popular on the Scottish Time Trialling calendar and attracts a huge, top quality field every year.

Willie Rafferty was also my dad’s Uncle, and he remembers riding out as a boy over the hill from Castlemilk to ‘the lochs’ on rolling roads with his dad and uncle(s). ‘…And all I wanted to do was play football with my pals!’. I’ve also heard stories of how the brothers and friends made trips abroad, with one cycling and camping trip resulting in a French field being set on fire!

I decided at the turn of this year to focus on riding in some time trials.
I hoped this would give me some focus in 2013 and get some speed and stamina for the ‘cross season later in the year.

There are plenty of club and open time trials around the calendar, but it would have been foolish of me not to enter the ‘family’ TT, so enter I did.

The main goal was to try and beat my modest PB of 31’23”.
(See a post about my first ever open TT here).

I arrived at the sign-on half an hour later than planned thanks to heavy traffic on the motorway, then getting lost in the vicinity of the hall where everyone was meeting. That’ll teach me! A quick sign-on and change while blethering to my dad and fellow competitor Grant (who is organizing the Sharon Argue Memorial Race) and by then I was in a hurry to get to the start line. I made it with plenty of minutes(!) to spare and got ready to start.

60 seconds and then off you go… so time for a bit of banter… ‘Where’s the finish’… 30 seconds… ‘Who’s counting?’… 5-4-3-2-1 and away.

Down the hill to the underpass and then straight back up again. Hang on, how come this course isn’t flat? Shouldn’t all time trial be flat, unless advertised as a hilly TT? Why am I constantly up and down the gears? In fact why are my gears slipping themselves? This won’t be no PB!

After a wee bit of mild panic about the absence of flatness (!) I was able to settle in to a steadyish rhythm as gradients gradually took me up or down. As I approached the turn I was cheered on by some tifosi at the side of the road. The same tifosi cheered me by name on the way return …mon the Raffertys… and that bit of family support gave me some extra energy to push back up the gradient and into a bit of a cross/headwind.

Time seemed to be slipping away as I approached about three miles to go, and I forgot about the clock and tried to keep the average speed as high as possible. At this point I passed a wheelchair entrant, who then whizzed past me going downhill. I dragged myself up the rise to the start line and picked up speed again as I rolled ever onward to the finish line. I spotted two people at the side of the road, who looked like they could have been finish timers, but it didn’t feel right and, sure enough, as I pushed on I spotted the real finish and thrashed as hard as possible to get over the line.

A gentle spin down the hill brought me back to the sign on, and I was able to get changed and organized in a more sedate manner than before the race! I had enough time to sample one or two of the fantastic cakes on display, plus a mug of tea and a blether with my dad, Grant and a couple of other entrants. Unfortunately I then had to cut and run home to the family, which was a shame as it would have been nice to have stayed to the end to meet more entrants and family and eat more cakes of course.

I am not sure what my time was but I believe I came in under 31 minutes.
So that’s an improvement if correct: mission accomplished!

All in all this was a very enjoyable night, with a safe and well organized course and a great selection of cakes and sarnies at the end.

Only 365 days to the next one…

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