My biggest sporting passion is cycling, cycling in all its forms, road racing, criterium racing, a little bit of track racing and of course the ever painful time trial.
Most cycling clubs undertake weekly ten mile time trials for their members, it's seen as a great distance to push yourself hard and make small improvements to get faster. I myself have done plenty of these in the past and they really do hurt like nothing else.
Ten Miles going flat out is hard, but imagine doing that for Fifty Miles, yes fifty miles in that tortuous aerodynamic position always needing to be alert to traffic, road surface and other riders. Now that is hard going indeed.
Dukinfield Cyclists Club organised a fifty mile time trials held on a course near to Holmes Chapel yesterday and as the motorway is so handy for me, and in theory would be pretty quiet on a Saturday afternoon, I decided I would drive out and cover it for Martin Holden Images. The motorway behaved itself other than the infernal road works and 50mph speed limit and pretty soon I was parked up near the village of Twemlow, sat in my camping chair with the flask of Segafredo coffee next to me.
The start line was about 200m down the road, so I could make sure I caught all the riders at least once on their adventure in Cheshire.
Riders set off every minute, so each one (apart from rider 1) had someone to chase and hunt down. Don't worry about rider 1 though, the course was a three lapper, so he would eventually have someone to go for !
The full gallery of the images is HERE but there were a few shots that I really liked for various reasons:
This image gives you an idea of the lengths that the riders will go to in their search for aerodynamic speed. Teardrop smooth helmet with visor, skinsuit (great colours too), aero bars, tri-spoke wheel on the front, full disc wheel on the back and a recent innovation, knee length overshoes. Nothing is left to chance, even the drinking bottle is aero and made from lightweight carbon fibre:
The position on the bike needs to be aggressive with what the riders call a "flat back". This takes hours to get right with many riders having professional bike fits to put them into the optimal position for both speed and comfort. The sheer core strength to sustain that position for fifty miles is immense.
I always love to see the co-ordination of bike set up, skinsuit design and it all coming together and matching and everyone loves a Darth Vader helmet to throw into the mix as well don't they.
The first rider set off at 4pm and the last one rolled off the start line at 6pm and that meant a fairly late night for me with the final edited images going online shortly after 10pm - so as you can see, its a fair old investment in time and energy to cover a big event like this, but I love every minute of it, so it's just a whole lot of fun for me.